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Which Finesse to take?

Exercise: Bearing in mind the importance of retaining a finesse position for as long as possible, how would you play the following:

  • (a) A642 facing Q8753

  • (b) Q1042 facing AK65

  • (c) AJ876 facing K5432

  • (d) AJ765 facing K10432

(a) Cash the ace first, before leading to the queen. Occasionally the king is singleton.
(b) Cash the ace-king. You are expecting the jack to drop in three rounds, but should preserve Q10 finesse position in case J9xx is sitting underneath.
(c) Cash the king first. You are expecting the queen to drop in two rounds, but if the player sitting in front of he AJ876 holds Q109, you will have a marked finesse position, using the AJ.
(d) You have two finesse positions: AJ and K10. You cannot retain them both, and must decide which opponent (if any) is more likely to be void. Cash the high honour to the left of that player (see deal).

East Deals
E-W Vul

K 4 2

K 10 6 4 2


9 7 5

J 10 3

Q 9 8

8 6 4

J 10 3 2








7 5

A K 7 5 3 2

A Q 8 6 4


A Q 9 8 6

A J 7 5 3

10 9













3 1



All pass


  1. Good bid. Even though a spade fit has
    been located, it is worthwhile introducing
    hearts: (i) partner can judge the worth of
    his hand better, knowing he is facing a
    major two-suiter (ii) hearts may play better
    (as here).

  2. Should West muster up a 4  bid? As
    you can see East will make 5  (assuming
    he drops South’s singleton  K - against
    the odds but he has no dummy entry to
    finesse North for the card).

What happened
East took  AK, cashed  A (felling declarer’s  K), and followed with  Q. Declarer ruffed and, pleased with his game, crossed to  K. Fatally - for West’s guarded  Q now had to win a trick. Down one.

What should have happened
You need to decide which opponent is more likely to have a void trump. Although East opened the bidding (superficially suggesting he is more likely to own  Q), he showed a shapely two-suiter. West could hardly have no hearts - or he would surely have huge support for one or both partner’s minors. East is more likely to be void. Trump  Q, and cash  A (key play). East duly discards, but you can lead to  9 and  10, drawing West’s  Q with dummy’s  K. 10 tricks and game made.

If you remember just one thing...
With a “two-way finesse position”, take care which one to release

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