Some suit combinations allow you to create extra tricks by capturing the opponent’s honors. You finesse in a suit where you have one or more, but not all, of the top five honor cards (eg. A K Q J T). Finessing involves playing the suit in the hope that a certain opponent has one or more of the honor cards outstanding.
What is a finesse?
A finesse is an attempt to win a trick with a card that is not a certain winner, usually by playing it as the third card to a trick in the hope that any card that could beat it is held by the opponent who has already played their card.
The Problem With the Diamond Suit below we have no certain winners – and we would like to create 3 winning tricks from the Diamond suit. To do this declarer is hoping that West has the Queen and East has the Ace (if the outstanding honor cards are split between East and West there is a 50% chance of the distribution being what you want ).
There are two types of finesse, the indirect and the direct finesse.
1. An indirect finesse occurs when a low card is led from one hand towards a high card in the opposite hand. For example in the diamond suit below if Declarer leads the 4 of diamonds up to Dummy – Declarer hopes that West has the Queen and has decided to cover Wests card with the smallest possible card (but in this case not the 7 of diamonds because Easts 8 of diamonds would then take the trick)
2. A direct finesse is when a high card is lead from one hand to a still higher card in the opposite hand. For example: leading the 10♦ from your hand towards the King in Dummy, hoping that the second player to the trick has the Queen. The advantage of this is that if the second player ducks, and East does not cover with the Ace then you can lead again from Declarer’s hand without using your side entries to get back into your hand.
The Leading Card (from declarer’s hand) Lead the 4♦ from Dealer’s hand as the first card to the trick. This is the start of your indirect finesse where you are leading low towards your high cards
The Second Card played to the trick West when its their turn follows the rule that second card “plays low” putting up the 3♦
The Third Card played to the trick Declarer then plays from dummy the 9♦ hoping that the Queen of diamonds is in West’s hand. If West plays the Q♦ – dummy will then cover it with his King
The Fourth Card played to the trick East has to choose…. do they use their Ace to capture dummy’s 9 or do they let it win a trick?
♦ K J 9 7
if west plays low put up 7D
♦ Q 3
if west plays the queen – cover with king
♦ A 8 5 2
to win a diamond trick east must play his ace!
♦ 10 6 4
hoping West has QD lead the 10D
Comment:With this suit distribution above you have the choice of whether to make a direct or indirect finesse -you do not need to make a direct finesse but the advantage of using is that you retain the lead in Declarer’s hand without needing to re-enter using side suits, however in this hand entries are not a problem as you have several side suit entries (see the practice game in the panel below) into Declarer’s hand.