ACBL14B – Declarer: Finessing                        Ward Trumbull

                                        Ace & Queen without the King       Oct 8, 2007

                                                                                                                 Page 1 of 2


Expanded Explanation


      This is an expansion on the missing king finesse that was outlined in item 3 of ACBL1 4.  This type finesse occurs consistently when playing bridge.  It helps if you know in advance your correct options.


1. The Simplest Finesse Decision


     If all the honors of the suit are in one hand (declarer or dummy), your

option is simple.  Lead small to the honors hand.


                  Dummy                                             Declarer

         --------------------------                       ------------------------------

         7 4 2                                             A Q J 10 6


Lead the seven to the 10 and hope the king is the Right Hand Opponent’s (RHO) hand.  If so, cross back to dummy in another suit and repeat the finesse leading the 4 to the jack, and so on.


2. The Dumb Finesse


    When the ace, queen and jack are not all in the same hand, you are liable to make “THE DUMB FINESSE”.  First, all good bridge players know when to “cover an honor with an honor”.  Second, learn to finesse assuming you are playing against good bridge players.


                  Dummy                                             Declarer

         --------------------------                       ------------------------------

         J 4 2                                             A Q 6 5 3


If you finesse for the king by leading the jack and expect to play declarer’s 3, you have just made the “dumb finesse”.  If RHO has the king, he/she will play it (cover an honor).  You then only get the ace and queen.  If the LHO has the king, he/she will take the trick, and you will only get the ace and queen.  That’s a NO-WIN finesse.

          ACBL14B – Declarer: Finessing                         Oct 8, 2007

                                        Ace & Queen without the King        Page 2 of 2


2. The Dumb Finesse (continued)


      The percentage play is the dummy’s 4 to declarer’s queen.  If the finesse fails, you get the ace and jack only.  If the finesse works (RHO has the king), play the ace immediately.  If RHO has 3-or-more cards in the suit, you still will only get the ace and queen.  BUT if he/she had the king doubleton, you will get all 3, ace, queen and jack.


3. The Dumber Finesse


      When you have only the ace and queen in opposite hands, there is only one way to take the finesse.  That is, lead towards the queen.


                  Dummy                                             Declarer

         --------------------------                       ------------------------------

         Q 4 2                                             A 6 5 3


If you lead the queen, good players will cover with the king and you will only get the ace.  This is the “dumber finesse”.  However, if you lead toward the queen, half the time the king will be on-side (ahead of the queen) and you will get both the ace and queen.  A safety play is to cash the ace first to (once-in-a-while) pick up a singleton king in either opponent’s hand.  Typically, that safety play would be made in a suit contract.  In notrump, it might be safer to hang onto the ace.