Once, I was playing with my husband in a couples’ game, and he was declarer. Besides support for his suit, I also had ace, queen, jack and 10 in a side suit.
He was in his hand and led a small card toward this suit and played the queen.
The lady he was finessing was heard to give a tiny chuckle, and when it worked and he came back to his hand and led toward the jack, she was quite amused, I suppose, at making him work at this.
Then he played the ace on the board, and her king fell. In days of yore, I would have been calling for smelling salts for this woman who seemed to be choking to death.
She held K X X in that suit and obviously thought he would finesse again, never dreaming that he wouldn‘t.
Paying attention to the enemies’ bids often helps. I am always glad – why I’m not sure – when if I open a minor and West – I try to be South both at the club and in these writings – bids the same suit, I now know he has at least 10 cards in the majors. That leaves only three to be minors and could be 3-0 or 2-1, so I figure that he is the one to be finessed.
If I am holding the kind of hand where the finesse could go either way, I always pick to finesse him.
Here is a hand I might have with diamonds the contract and me missing the queen.
North: Partner diamonds: A 10 X X
Me: K J X X
As you can see, I could finesse either side. I carefully play the ace just to see who follows, and both East and West do.
Now, I come from dummy, East playing a diamond and me putting in the Jack, which loses to West’s queen. Oops. West holds a doubleton in diamonds – Q X.
Another hand would be that I can only finesse one way, and it is still toward West, so I thank my lucky stars. I am finessing for the king, and I hold the ace and queen in my hand, so I lead from dummy, East follows and I put in my queen.
West pops up with the king, which turned out to be a singleton.
Most experts say finesses work only 50 percent of the time. I don’t know how they know it, but it seems to me that my opponents’ finesses work about 70 percent and mine less than 10 percent.
So much for lucky stars.
Nancy Evins, of Lebanon, is a certified bridge instructor. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.