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Bridge: Setting Up a Long Suit with a Finesse

9 of 9 in Series: The Essentials of Finessing in Bridge

When you’re missing a critical high card in the dummy’s long suit in a hand of bridge, usually a king, you may have to rely on a finesse. A finesse involves leading from weakness to strength, trying to win a trick with a lower honor card. To pull this off, the player who plays second to the trick must hold the honor card you’re missing.

You can’t forget about entries to the dummy when setting up suits. After you set up a suit by trumping the small cards, you need to reach the dummy, where the established tricks reside, to enjoy the fruits of your labor. If you don’t have enough dummy entries to set up a long suit, forget it. You’re spinning your wheels.

Finessing in a side suit requires the following basic steps:

  1. Determine which suit you want to work with and image out which of the high honor cards you’re missing.

  2. Determine how many cards your opponents have in that suit.

  3. Lead from weakness to strength, hoping that the opponent who plays second to the trick has the missing honor.

  4. Establish the suit by trumping the dummy’s small cards until the opponents are out of the suit.

  5. Draw trumps, ending up in the dummy.

    If you can’t end up in the dummy, draw trumps ending up in your hand and then enter the dummy in another suit. Most important when setting up a long suit is to be able to enter the dummy after the opponents’ trumps have been removed.

  6. Sit back and collect the tricks you’ve established.

This image shows a suit where finessing can establish an extra trick for you.

image0.jpg

You need to take three tricks from the diamonds. Say that spades are trump, and you have high spades coming out of your ears. You want to take the finesse in diamonds, and you’re missing the critical ♦K. You hope that West, who plays second to the trick, has it.

Before you set up tricks by finessing in the diamond suit, ask yourself how many diamond cards your opponents have. Otherwise, how will you know when both of your opponents are void in that suit? Because you have seven diamonds, you can be sure that they have six.

You might play the hand like this:

  1. Lead a low diamond, the ♦6, from your hand toward the ♦Q in the dummy (weakness to strength).

  2. When West plays low, you play the ♦Q and take a finesse, which is a fifty-fifty proposition.

    Good news: The ♦Q wins the trick because West has the ♦K. Your finesse worked! The opponents now have four diamonds left.

  3. Play the ♦A from the dummy.

    Both opponents follow low.

  4. Play your remaining diamond.

    Your opponents have two diamonds left.

  5. Lead a low diamond from the dummy.

    Alas, East discards, meaning that West has both remaining diamonds. The nerve! Never mind.

  6. Trump this diamond in your hand with a spade.

    You leave the cards in this image. You can still succeed, but you need two more dummy entries!

    image1.jpg
  7. Have the dummy to trump a diamond.

    After you do that, the dummy’s remaining diamond is a winner because neither East nor West has any more diamonds.

  8. If you can get to the dummy one more time, you can play your established diamond and discard a loser.

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