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Definition:  ‑ An attempt to gain power for lower ranking cards by taking advantage of the assumed favorable position of higher‑ranking cards held by the opposition.   NOTE: ‑ In all cases, the burden of finessing is eliminated, or at the very least reduced if the opponents lead the suit instead.




Purposes and Types:


1.      To Avoid Losing a Trick:  In (a), South would lead towards the Q hoping the K would be held by West, thereby finessing against the K, hopefully winning the Q and avoiding losing a trick in the suit (A Simple Finesse).   In (b), when West leads the 3, South plays the 9 from Dummy hoping to force the King thereby promoting the Q in Dummy and thus avoiding losing any tricks in that suit (A Deep Finesse).


                  A Q                            Q 10 9 2

            (a)                      (b)   J 6 3           K 8 7 5

                   X X                              A 4



2.      To Gain a Trick With Law‑Ranking Cards: ‑ In (a), Needing two tricks in the suit, South would cash the A

      and then lead towards the Q hoping that the K is held by East.   In (b), Needing one trick, South would lead

      towards the Q twice, hoping both the A and K are held by West.


                   Q X X                      Q X X

            (a)                       (b)  

                   A X X                       X X X      



3. To Prepare For a Second Finesse in the Same Suit: ‑ In (a), South would lead towards the 10, losing trick (1)  

    to the Q or K in the East, and then towards the J hopefully winning trick (2) with the alternate missing honor 

    being held by West.    In (b), South leads towards the 9 hoping West started with either the Q 10, or the K 

   10, thereby promoting the J in the North hand on a second finesse towards the J.


                                        A J 10                   A J 9

            (a)                      (b) 

                    X X X                    X X X












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4.      The Double or Deep Finesse: ‑ A finesse against two outstanding honors.  The only serious chance of making three tricks is to finesse the 10.   At least two tricks will be gleaned if the honors are split between East and West.

                                                                    A Q 10


                                       X X X


The easiest way to remember when to take a simple finesse, and when to take a deep or double finesse is as follows:   Divide the outstanding cards as equally as possible between the defenders.   If one of the opponents must have at least three cards or more, finesse deep; if one of the opponents may have only as few as two, use a simple finesse.


           Examples:         (a)    AQ1092                     (b) AQ1092


                                             653                                7654


In (a) with 5 pieces out against declarer, the split is probably 3‑2 and a deep finesse of the 9 is indicated.   In (b) with only 4 pieces out against declarer, the split is probably 2-2 and a simple finesse is indicated.


5.     The Ruffing Finesse: ‑ A play in a suit contract which is successful if the missing honor lies behind the finesse holding; i.e., to the right of the Void.   In the example shown, Play the Ace, then the Queen letting it ride.  

                            Example:               AQJ10




6.      The Backward Finesse: ‑ Used either because  1) a belief that the missing card is off‑sides, or 2) an avoidance play so as to keep 0ne defender from leading,  or 3) to gain a needed top score.  In the example below, one would lead the Jack towards the Ace, instead of playing the Ace first and then finessing through the KJ.

                            Example:              AXXX




7.      The Continuing Finesse: ‑The play of the cards such that the finesse, once begun, can be continued repeatedly from the same hand without the need to return to that first hand to repeat the process.   It is used when no further re‑entry cards are available to return to the origin of the finesse, or when one does not wish to use up additional entries in order to continue the finesse.  In the example shown one would play the Jack towards the AQ103 and then continue by playing the 9 towards the AQ10 if the finesse wins.


                               Example:                J92                   AQ103


8.      The Chinese Finesse: ‑ An attempt to win a trick by leading an unsupported honor.   In the example shown, needing to avoid any loser in the suit South leads the Q hoping West will duck in fear that South has the Q J 10.


                                                                         A 5

                                                         K 8 6 2               J 10 7

                                                                       Q 9 4 3