Test yourselves with the hands below, and see if you can choose the right finesse:
Start the test now!
11. You play 4♠ and West leads the ♣J. Which finesse do you take, if any?
You play 4♠ and West leads the ♣J. Win in dummy and lead a LOW Diamond to your ♦J. If East has the ♦KQ, you manage to promote a Diamond trick for a club discard. If not... You will still make if the Heart finesse succeeds.
12. You play 6♥ and West leads the ♦Q. Which finesse do you take, if any?
You play 6♥ and West lead the ♦Q. As you want to make your Clubs, you need to pull out trumps first. You cannot afford to play the ♥K and run the ♥10, as if the ♥Q is with West - you will lose this trick and the Diamonds later. Planning to ruff Diamonds is not too good either due to entry problems.
The best line is to run the ♥10. If West wins with the ♥Q, your ♥K protects you from a Diamond continuation.
If West returns a Spade - you play the ♠A, pull out trumps, and throw 2 Diamonds and a Spade on the good Clubs. If the ♥10 holds the trick, continue with the ♥K, a Club to the ♣K, ♥A (if Hearts split 3-2 you can claim 13 tricks) and Clubs, throwing 2 Diamonds from hand. West can ruff the 4th Club and play a Spade - but you take the ♠A and throw your remaining Spade loser on the 5th Club.
13. You play 3NT on a ♠Q lead. Which finesse do you take, if any?
You play 3NT on a ♠Q lead. You have 8 tricks off the top. the 9th trick will come from a successful Heart or Diamond finesse.
Question is, which finesse should you take first?
You must take the Heart finesse. Win the ♠A and play a Heart to the ♥K.
Why? If the ♥A is with East - You will score your ♥K as the 9th trick. If not - You still have a chance to try the Diamond finesse later. But, if you try the Diamond finesse first and it fails - East will return a Spade and now you are down for sure, no matter where the ♥A is (you will lose one Heart, one Diamond and 3 Spades).
14. You play 3NT and West leads the ♦6. Which finesse do you take?
You play 3NT and West leads the ♦6. Win the ♦A and run the ♣10 for a finesse. As cards lay here – You make 10 tricks as the Club finesse works.
However, if Club finesse fails, you can still try to make the ♦Q if West returns Diamond.
But as cards lay here, if you try the Diamond finesse at trick 1, you will not survive a Spade switch at trick 2 (after East winning the ♦K at trick1).
15. You play 4♠ and West leads the ♦4. East wins with the ♦A and continues with the ♦Q. Which finesse do you take, if any?
You play 4♠ and West leads the ♦4. (East opened the bidding with 1♦.)
East wins the ♦A and continues with the ♦Q. As the ♦4 cannot be doubleton (you have the ♦32) it is most likely a singleton. If you cover with the ♦K, West ruffs, returns a Heart and you lose one Heart, 2 Diamonds and a Diamond ruff.
So play low on the ♦Q. East wins and play another Diamond, but you finesse to the ♦10 and when West ruffs and returns a Heart - win the ♥A, pull out trumps and throw the ♥Q on the ♦K.
16. You play 4♥ after West opened 1NT. West leads the ♥3 and you win with the ♥9. Play it from here.
You play 4♥ after West opened 1NT. West leads the ♥3 and you win with the ♥9. You need to try to ruff 2 Spades, but also to try to avoid losing the lead to East, as a Heart return from East will sabotage your plan.
So, play Diamond to the ♦A and then a Spade from dummy, covering whatever card East plays (if East plays the ♠Q - Win ♠A and continue with another Spade. East cannot have more than one Spade honor as he has at most 2 points on this bidding).
When West gets the lead, he cannot afford another Heart, else he doesn't make his ♥K. Now you manage to make your two Spade ruffs.
Note: If you play the ♠A and another Spade from hand – East can win the trick and return a Heart – And you are down one.
17. You play 4♠ which East doubled. West, who bid 2♥, leads the ♥Q. Where is the finesse here?
You play 4♠ which East doubled. West, who bid 2♥, leads the ♥Q.
Win with the ♥A, play a Diamond to the ♦K and then another Heart from dummy, finessing East (sort of Expass = playing to your K).
If East ruffs - He ruffs "air", as you will follow with a low Heart. If East discards - You win the ♥K and ruff a third Heart. East can overruff and play the ♠K, but you win with the ♠A and ruff the fourth Heart too. Defenders make only 3 Spade tricks.
Note: If you play the ♥K from hand, East will ruff, continue with the ♠K and you will not be able to ruff two Hearts in dummy as East will overruff the third Heart and cash his trumps. That way you will lose 3 Spades and a Heart.
18. You play 6♥ on the ♣J lead. Which finesse do you take?
You play 6♥ on the ♣J lead. The best chance is to win the ♣K and finesse spade to the ♠Q.
If the finesse loses to West, use the ♠J to try the Heart finesse. If the finesse wins, play ♦AK and continue with the ♥Q from hand. When West wins his ♥K (this round or the next one – as when you continue with the ♥J he must win), you will have the ♥10 as entry to dummy in order to throw a Spade loser on the ♦Q.
19. You play 3NT and West leads a Spade. Which finesse do you take, if any?
You play 3NT and West leads a Spade (East opened 1♠). It is clear from the bidding that West has maximum 1 point, and both missing aces are with East. If you try to establish the Hearts, East will win the ♥A, continue with Spades and you are stuck with 8 tricks, as Diamonds are not splitting 3-3.
Playing a club to the ♣10 is an option (a very bad one...) to try and hunt for 4 Club tricks. Another option would be to play for the ♣J doubleton...
Best line is: Win the lead, play a Diamond to the ♦A, and then a low Club from dummy. East must play low, else you score 4 Club tricks. Win with the ♣ K and start playing on Hearts. That way you steal a Club trick to be your 9th trick.
20. You play 4♠ on the ♦K lead. Which finesse do you take, if any?
You play 4♠ on the ♦K lead. If you win the ♦A and play a trump - You will lose tempo! West will win and switch to the ♥J. You can try the ♥Q but East will cover and now your contract depends on a Club finesse, which fails. You lose one trick in each suit on this line of play.
Best chance is to play the ♣J from dummy at trick 2! Opponents will win but that play will allow you to throw your Heart loser on the third round of Clubs.
A matter of tempo: Establish your trick before opponents establish theirs (and also make sure to keep a Club entry: If you play ♣A and ♣Q, you will not have a quick entry to dummy).
Stay tuned for Part 3 of the test!