Finesse Tactics Unveiled: Mastering Tricks Against the Ace and Queen

Finesse Tactics Unveiled: Mastering Tricks Against the Ace and Queen

Last time, a card play situation called Finesse was introduced. To recap, Finesse is a way an extra trick can be made by the declarer

Arvind VaidyaUpdated: Saturday, April 27, 2024, 01:23 PM IST
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Last time, a card play situation called Finesse was introduced. To recap, Finesse is a way an extra trick can be made by the declarer. We examined ‘Finesse against the King’ in previous column. Now, we shall take up ‘Finesse against the Ace’ and ‘Finesse against the Queen.

A)   Finesse against the Ace

Imagine a following layout of cards, between declarer and his dummy

                       432

                      north

      west(A?)                          east (A?)

                      south

                       KQx

Because you have semi solid holding of KQ together, you are sure to get one trick once the ace is driven out. The issue is if you can make two tricks out of this layout. Yes, you can and it depends on which opponent has the ace – East or West? Let’s say you start with x card from the north hand. If East has the A and he gleefully hops up, south will play his x card and the KQ both get promoted to score two tricks later. However, if east play x and south’s Q is won by Ace with west, south will get only one trick with his King.

Effectively speaking, when East holds the Ace, it gets ‘finessed’, but if west has it, it does not. In simpler terms, whenever east has the Ace, south can always bypass it (even twice) and score both K & Q.

B) Finesse against the Queen

The last big card we need to consider for learning finessing is Queen. Check following suit combinations:

AKJ facing      xxx

Ak   facing      J10x

AJxx facing     KTxx

In each case, the queen is missing and you would like to trap it by finessing. In the first layout, x card is played towards AKJ and when next opponent follows with x card, you play the J. If the Q is located under AKJ, the J will obviously win a trick and thus you score an extra trick. If the Q is placed over the J? too bad, but you at least tried!

Next layout is slightly intricate. Again, Q is missing but you are blessed with holding AK and J10. Start with the Jack, if it is covered by Q, your 10 gets promoted. If no Q appears on J, you run the J – do not play A or K on your own jack. If Q is placed under AK, the J will still win (remember, opponent is not obliged to cover J with the Q).

In the last layout, please note that J and 10 are now in different hands? Here, Q in either opponent’s hand can be finessed. Either you play x towards AJ combination and insert J or you play x towards KT combination and insert 10. Declarer must judge or guess who holds the Q.

Let’s study now another important technique associated with card play.

If you hold AKxxxx facing Qx, always play big card from the short hand first. Play the Q to start with, then continue with next card to the A or K and continue enjoying rest of the tricks in this suit. If you play first A or K and then play x to your Q, you will get stuck in the wrong hand!! There will be no communication to the winner cards in other hand because you do not have access any more to that hand.

This is called ‘blocking the suit’. You have winners ready but suit is blocked! Hence this simple precautionary technique is quite important to know.

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