UNBLOCKING                 refusing to finesse



Refusing to Finesse
One of the most useful strategies in Bridge is the finesse. Every beginner player knows that to master the
game, you have to master the finesse. And most do. The problem is though, that some beginners come down with "finesse fever": finessing whenever the opportunity presents itself whether they have to or not. (Bill Clinton had the opposite problem. Note his statement during the 1992 presidential campaign: "I did not finesse.") 
        Players with finesse fever either ignore the adage 8 ever, nine never; or assume that there always is an exception to the 8 ever part. An egregious example of this was a player was in 
6 S with 12 Spades between his hand and Dummy. The only missing card was the K S. He took the finesse and. . .  it lost. He said, with a tearful smile, that it was a 50/50 chance. And he was right. This like most finesses have a 50% chance of winning. Percentage wise this is much higher than you would get for a five year CD at your local bank. 
        Most good Bridge players however, do not have finesse on the brain. They know when to finesse and when not to finesse. And sometimes "when not" is  more important than the "when to". They will postpone the finesse; play for the drop; or explore other options. Maybe it is imperative to pull trump quickly. So instead of finessing with the A K J 10 9, play three rounds (A  K  J). If the Queen falls great.
        There are hands where the finesse is the wrong play. Let's look at the examples on the right.  The lead is in the Hand.

In example 1 if you get to Dummy with the A S and finesse for the Q C, then you will never be able to run the Clubs. The suit will block whether the finesse wins or loses. The cards in the Dummy will never be reached in your lifetime. Instead play the A C, K C then the 2 C. Even if the Q C does not drop, the A S is the entry to the remaining good Clubs.

In example 2 you could take the Club finesse by playing the A
C and letting the J C ride. If the Club finesse wins then the only entry to Dummy is the A H. And if the Q C does not fall on the K C then you will have to lose a Club and the rest of the good cards in that suit will be untouchable. A better line or play is the A C followed by the J C. Overtake with the K C and continue the suit. Even if the Q C remaining good Clubs.

Do not take the Diamond finesse (which could lose) in example 3. Play the 7 u to the A u and take the Spade hook by playing the J S and letting it ride. If this finesse wins it can be repeated and you will make four tricks.


        SA 3
        C J 10 9 7 3


         S 9 7 5 3
         C AK 2

         H A 3
         C 10 9 8 7


         H 9 8 6 4 2
         C A J

        S J 3
  D A Q J 


        S A Q 10