The Finesse - Facts sheet

1. Simple Indirect finesse
In an Indirect finesse a low card is lead from one hand towards an almost high card in the other, trying to avoid being captured by a higher card of the Opponents.
An Indirect finesse has a 50% chance of success of winning 1 extra trick.

♣ x x   > x     x Q A ♣ | ♦ x x   > x     x x K
♥ A x   > x     x x Q | ♠ K J x   > x     x <   10 A ♠
(Two-way finesse)
2. Multiple Indirect finesse
In a Multiple Indirect finesse a low card is lead from one hand towards two or three touching Honours in the other, trying to avoid being captured by a higher card of the Opponents.

A Multiple Indirect finesse has a 50% chance of success. If the finesse is succesful, it can be taken again for a second or even third time.   Even if the finesse fails one or more additional winners have been secured.

♣ x x   > x       x J Q A ♣ | ♦ x x   > x     x Q K
♥ x x   > x     10 J Q A ♥ | ♠ x x   > x     x J Q K

3. Direct finesse
In an Direct finesse a high card is lead from one hand towards a higher card in the other, trying to capture the Opponent's almost high card.
For an Direct finesse you need to have 4 of the top 5 or 6 cards to succeed. Even when the finesse fails it will produce one or more extra winner. A Direct finesse has a 50% chance of success.

♠ 10 J   > Q     x x x A ♠ | ♥ 9 10   > J     x x K A ♥

4. Double finesse
In an Double finesse the Opponents hold two Honour cards in the suit concerned. A Double finesse usually fails the first time and has to be taken twice.
A Double finesse can be a Direct or an Indirect finesse.   "With 8 cards or less, double finesse !"
If you can afford to lose one trick a Double finesse has a 76% chance of winning 2 out of 3 tricks.

♠ 9 10   > J     x x x A ♠ | ♥ x x   > 9     x 10 Q A ♥
♦ x x   > x     9 10 K A ♦ | ♣ x x   > x     9 10 J A ♣

5. Ruffing finesse
A Direct finesse where a high card in one hand is lead towards a void in the other. If LHO covers, ruff the trick, if LHO plays low discard a loser from a side suit :   ♥ J Q   > K     - ♥

With a singleton   ♣ 10 J Q   > A     x   :   lead the A♣ first, then Q♣ for a ruffing finesse.

6. Deep finesse
In an Deep finesse the Opponents hold three Honour cards in the suit concerned. A Deep finesse usually fails the first time and has to be taken twice.
The chance of success depends on the actual card combination held

♠ x x   > x     9 Q A ♠ | ♥ x x   > x     9 J A ♥
♦ x x   > x     9 J K ♦ |  


Finesse thinking

  1. Is taking this Finesse the best option for making my contract ?

  2. Can this Finesse endanger my contract ?

  3. When should I take this Finesse ?

Probable chance of success

100% : Direct finesse   -   ♠ 10 J   > Q     x x (x) A
                Always gains one or more extra tricks when the finesse fails

100% : Multiple Indirect finesse   -   ♥ (x) x   > x       10 J Q A ♥
                Always gains one or more extra tricks when the finesse fails

79% : Deep finesse   -   ♥ x x   > x       9 J K ♥
                79% chance of winning 1 trick out of 3   |   25% chance of winning 2 tricks out of 3

76% : Double finesse
            ♠ x x   > x
    10 Q A ♠     |     ♥ 9 10   > J     x x (x) A ♥
            ♦ x x   > x     10 J A ♦      |     ♣ x x   > x     x J K ♣
            76% chance of gaining at least 1 extra trick from 2 finesses

68% : 3-2 split when Opponents hold 5 cards in the combined hands
            ♠ K x x x     x x x A ♠     |     ♥ x x x     x x x K A ♥
            68% chance of gaining one (with 4-4) or two (with 5-3) extra tricks

63% : Deep finesse   -   ♥ x x   > x       9 Q A ♥
            63% chance of gaining one extra trick from 2 finesses

50% : Simple Indirect finesse
            ♠ x x   > x     x Q A ♠     |     ♥ x x > x     x x K
            50% chance of gaining one extra trick

38% : Deep finesse   -   ♥ x x   > x       9 J A ♥
                38% chance of winning 2 tricks if 2nd player plays low
                50% chance of winning 2 tricks if 2nd players plays K or Q

35% : 3-3 split when Opponents hold 6 cards in the combined hands
            ♣ x x x     x x K A ♣     |     ♦ x x     x x x K A ♦
            35% chance of gaining one (with 4-3) or two (with 5-2) extra tricks


© 2013 Michael Furstner