Nancy Evins: Playing finesses with finesse

Nancy Evins • Updated Feb 18, 2018 at 2:00 PM

Finesses are funny things. When should you play for one, how do you decide whether it should be a finesse, and can you make the opponents help you?

If you think I know all the answers, I’m sorry. I’m even sorrier that I don’t know.

It took me many years to realize that leading the queen from Q X X X to my A X X X was not a finesse. If I played the queen from dummy, and it was covered by the first opponent, I could play my ace. That is one trick.

If the first opponent didn’t have it, and the second one did, I still had one trick.

The worst case of not just a bad finesse was a few years back. It was not only bad, but also ridiculous, unreasonable and utterly stupid.

The player who made this dastardly mistake was heard to mourn afterward he was good for nothing as a bridge partner.

A woman who chose to comfort him said, ”Oh, no, that’s not true. We can always use you as a bad example.”

This true story could start out, “a psychologist and a dentist were learning a new system.” No, this is not like a preacher, a truck driver and a duck enter a bar type of story. All the duck wanted was quackers. It was playing a newer system of opening two clubs to show a strong hand, rather than telling what the best suit was.

The responder was to answer two diamonds to keep the bidding open and learn about the suit.

So the psychologist opened two clubs, the dentist obediently bid two diamonds and nearly fainted when his partner then bid six diamonds. He had only two diamonds in his hand and thought his partner had somehow misunderstood the new bid.

When dummy’s hand came down, there were 10 diamonds in it, leaving only one card out, the king of diamonds.

So angry and frustrated was the dentist that yes, instead of dropping the king by playing the ace, he finessed. It didn’t work.

Years later, he drove to my house in East Tennessee to play bridge with my parents and me. The first thing my father said to him, when introduced, was “are you the one who finessed the king of diamonds?”

“Oh, so you’ve heard about that, have you?” sniffed the tooth puller.

The deepest finesse I have ever made was playing the deuce of a suit from dummy, and when the opponent placed his three on it, I played the four, and it held as I knew it would.

I’ve already told this story, so I won’t repeat it, but it does cheer me up when sometimes I could be used as a bad example.

But speaking of getting cheered up, I must tell you that I have won, not once but three times, in a two-month period, $1.5 million, plus a new car.

Readers, have you ever won a Publishing Clearing House prize? Do you know of anyone who has?

They say your chances are less than getting struck by lightning. I haven’t had that experience, except I had just last week an electric shock with a bill from the power company for more than $720.

But the people calling me can’t get over how blasé I am about this, and I can’t understand why they can’t take the “handling fee” for the car out of $1.5 million.

The last caller, a few days ago, asked, “Wouldn’t you be surprised when people from Publishing Clearing House are outside your door with a check?”

And I truthfully answered, “I sure would.”

Nancy Evins, of Lebanon, is a certified bridge instructor. Email her at [email protected]


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