How to Finesse a Queen Past a King in Bridge - dummies

How to Finesse a Queen Past a King in Bridge

A finesse in bridge is a technique for taking tricks with lower honor cards (jacks, queens, and kings) when your opponents have higher honor cards (queens, kings, and aces). You need to finesse your lower honor cards past your opponents’ big-bully higher honors.

When you want to take tricks with lower honor cards, such as the king, queen, or jack, you need to lead from the side opposite the honor card with which you want to take a trick. Think of leading from weakness toward strength.

If you want to take a trick with a queen, do her a favor and lead toward her; she may be able to escape the clutches of the king. This image shows you how the queen can elude the king.


You want to take a trick with your ♠Q, but you don’t know who has the ♠K. (Yes, you can see the ♠K in East’s hand in the image, but if you were playing for real, you couldn’t see that ♠K unless you were Superman.) Here’s how this hand might play out:

  1. You lead a low spade from the dummy, the ♠2.

    Remember, with a finesse, you want to go from weakness toward strength. East, the second to play after the lead, usually plays his lowest card, the ♠4, so as not to give away any information about his hand.

  2. You, South, play the ♠Q, which wins the trick.

    Your finesse works.

If West (last to play to the trick) had the ♠K, your finesse would’ve lost.

This image shows another very common finesse involving the queen. This time, the ♠Q is in the dummy separated from her guardian, the ♠A.

Begin by leading a low spade, the ♠6, from your hand, the hand opposite the ♠Q. You’re hoping that West, the second hand, has the missing honor, the ♠K. In this case, West does have the ♠K. West has a couple of play options:


  • If West plays a low spade, the ♠2, you take the trick with the ♠Q.

  • If West takes the trick with the ♠K, your ♠Q becomes a later trick.

Of course, if East, fourth hand, has the ♠K, it gobbles up your ♠Q, and your finesse loses. C’est la vie.