Only summaries are included below -
see book for details
I Never Met a
Five-Card Suit I Didn't
Have Their Day in the
How Low Can
Hold That Finesse
“A finesse is a tool; and you don't use a tool without rhyme
or reason, just because it happens to be lying about.”
you like to finesse? Would you believe I do not?
will never forget my initial exposure to finesses. I was 14,
and my mother had just given me my first bridge book, the
best-selling 5 Weeks to Winning Bridge by Alfred
Sheinwold. After 18 chapters of basics and bidding, I could
not wait to play. Chapters 19 and 20 dealt with finessing. As
I read, I practiced with a deck of cards. It was going well,
and I could not wait to play so that I could finesse until I
Chapter 21 was titled “When Not to Finesse!” Wow! Sheinwold
began by stating: “Having learned how to finesse, we must now
decide whether to do so.” You could have knocked me over with
a feather. He gave many examples of hands where it was wrong
to finesse. Incredible.
course, the above is inevitable. In any game, the first step
for new players is to learn the basics. Once they understand
them, the next step is to apply that knowledge.
it comes to finesses, a major philosophical difference
separates the masses from the most accomplished players. Most
players are eager to finesse. Finessing is simple and it
provides immediate gratification. Experts do not like to
finesse, and never have. Why? Finesses lose half the time.
I compare the expert's mindset with that of a professional
gambler: Do you think he gets rich on 50–50 propositions?
Take Everything in Sight
the ability to see all 13 cards, and no shortage of entries
to each hand, can you win three tricks against perfect
defense? The lead is in the South hand.
Lead low from the South hand and insert the nine when West
correctly plays low. East will win the 10. When you regain
the lead, cash dummy's ace, capturing West's king. It is now
easy to lead dummy's two and finesse through East's
remaining J7 — you have the Q8 behind him. For those
interested in bridge lingo, this is an example of an
are East and it is your lead against a notrump contract. Can
you win four tricks in this suit?
answer is to lead the jack, which serves to neutralize
dummy's ten. If South ducks, your jack holds. Your side then
wins the ace and king, ending in your hand with the good
Suppose South covers the jack with his queen. West wins his
ace and returns the nine. Now you are sitting pretty with the
K82 behind dummy's 107. This surrounding play allows
you to run the suit. Well done!
I Never Met a Five-Card Suit I Didn't Like
average declarer’s point of view is often short-sighted. All
he notices are his honor cards. He begins the play of a hand
by grabbing the obvious winners, then tries a finesse or two.
When the smoke clears, all he has won is what he had coming —
no more, no less.
expert has a totally different perspective. He is able to win
tricks with small cards that his less experienced counterparts
never noticed. He appreciates long suits and their ability to
produce extra tricks. Any schmoe can win tricks with aces and
kings; the expert finds it aesthetically more pleasing to win
tricks with twos and threes.
Finesses Do Have Their Day in the Sun
Although forgoing a finesse is often the correct play, at
times a finesse is necessary:
When there is no alternative;
When the finesse is odds on based on the bidding or
When the finesse offers the best chance to develop the key
How Low Can You Go?
“One advantage of bad bidding is that you get practice at
playing atrocious contracts.”
Everybody knows how to finesse with AQ opposite 43. But that
is just the tip of the iceberg. It is possible to finesse
against virtually any card.
CHAPTER 14 -
TRUMPS ARE WILD