# Different kinds of “two direction” finesses in bridge?

I once read in a book about a "backward" finesse. You, declarer, have AJ9, and dummy has Kxx. Ordinarily, you would finesse twice from dummy toward AJ9. Except that your left hand opponent has indicated by a bid (or double) that he has the queen. If that's the case, you apparently finish "backwards" by leading the J, and covering with the K in dummy if the left hand opponent covers. Then you lead back an x to the A9 on the theory that right hand opponent is more likely to have the T. Why is that?

Another, apparently similar type of finesse is what I call a round trip finesse. You have K854 opposite QT32, and you're apparently finessing for the A, J, and maybe the 0.

How do you decide which way to finesse for an ace?

So you finesse toward the QT32, then back toward K854.

A third kind of finesse is sometimes called a two way finesse. That is, you have ATxx in hand, dummy has KJxx, and you are finessing for the queen. By counting, or other means, you determine that West/East is short in the suit. Then you win the K/A, to drop a presumed singleton, and then finesse the other way for the queen.

All of these finesses differ from what I call "one way" finesses, low in one hand toward, say AQ, or AQT.

What are the rationale behind the two directional finesses? Is the two way finesse a special case of the "one way" finesse or more like the other two directional finesses. And is the reason for a two directional finesse the fact that opposing honors are more likely to be split than to be concentrated in either opposing hand?

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The simple, unhelpful reason/rationale is that it gives you the best chances under the circumstances.

For instance

Kxx

AJ9

You need 3 tricks and know that LHO has the Q. Your best shot is to play RHO for the Ten, (which is ~50% assuming no other information is given). Playing the J first sets up the finesse position for the Ten. (Consider a similar one way situation, xxx opposite AJ9. Needing two tricks, you first play to the 9)

You can try playing the AK to drop the singleton Q or doubleton QT, but that is inferior in terms of chances.

I remember reading a book where in one of the problem hands, the right play in trumps was to finesse one way, and if that wins, repeat the finesse the other way! (I might add the hand later if I remember it).

Not sure if that helped.

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MANY questions here. Roudinesco is a good reference here, if very dense. Mike Lawrence has written some great (very readable) books on how to play specific card combinations in context of a given hand. The Rodwell files is also splendid, though arguably at a higher level. I might even offer some of the hands here as interesting examples of declarer play.

If you believe from the bidding or signals in the play that the queen lies over the jack (thus with your LHO or left hand opponent), then you might as well lead the queen, expecting a cover. Now, you are left with A9 opposite xx. There are two ways to play the combination that remains - winning the ace in the hopes the ten will drop on your left, or taking a second finesse with the 9 spot.

So you lead a low card from dummy, and a spot card appears on your right. Dropping a short ten on your left requires that the person with the queen had EXACTLY the holding of QT doubleton. Since your opponents started with 7 cards in the suit, you are essentially hoping the cards were initially distributed QT versus xxxxx. Such a specific holding would be rather rare, and far less likely than the possibility that RHO has ANY number of cards with the 10. The latter holding is essentially a 50-50 chance.

The above reasoning is not at all uncommon when you work out how best to play a card combination.

The combination of QT32 opposite K854 is one that is often guided by your knowledge about who might have the ace, as well as how many tricks you need in the play, and how much transportation you have between hands. Is this a case where you wish to maximize the probability of taking 3 tricks? Or is it a case where you wish to ensure that you never take fewer than 2 tricks? These two scenarios will favor different approaches in your play. You should know your goals when you play a hand. Is this IMPs or match-points?

For example, suppose you have 7 sure tricks outside of this suit in 3NT, and you have that holding in your contract at IMPs (teams) scoring. With plenty of stoppers in the other suits, you must play this holding for at least 2 tricks. Can you assure that you will ALWAYS take 2 tricks? This is a safety play situation.

Lead low towards the QT32. If RHO shows out on the first round, you will play the queen, then finesse LHO to ensure 2 tricks. If RHO plays a low card, you will play the queen. Next, play a low card towards the K8x. Go up with the king if LHO shows out or play the 8 if LHO follows low. You can ensure taking at least two tricks in the suit 100% of the time by careful play against any holding.

In another case, only 2 tricks in the suit may leave you a trick short. If this is trumps and they have two aces to win outside the trump suit, you cannot afford two trump losers in a 10 trick game. Again, there are many scenarios here to consider, too many to outline here. Most of them will involve deciding who to play for the ace, and possibly the jack.

The two-way finesse hand is as you describe it. If you can infer the hand with more likely length in that suit, then you will play that person for the queen. However, it still may be right to play for the queen in the short hand if they MUST have it from the bidding. For example, LHO shows up with 13 points, yet opened a 15-17 1NT and all other cards are accounted for. Even if they are know to have a doubleton, they should still have the queen.

Always use all the information you have available to bring to bear on a given hand. There are often clues to how to play a hand, hidden in the bidding, their signals, etc.

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 Welcome to the site. An upvote to get you started. The question to which it is linked said that the idea was to maximize the chances of getting to two tricks you need. Apparently the idea was to lead to the Q-T in dummy (two high honors). – Tom Au Sep 10 '12 at 18:38 If you read my response, I explained how to ensure, with 100% probability, how to take 2 tricks with that suit. As stated, it applies IF you are MUST take two tricks, but are willing to have a lesser chance of three tricks. – woodchips Sep 10 '12 at 18:43

The key point is that you have a QT minor "tenace" in dummy (over the Jack) that you want to lead to.

If the suit is divided 3-2, you'll make two tricks, one with either the Q or K, the second with a "long" low card. So let's worry about the 5-0 and 4-1 distributions.

Lead low to the QT. If West shows out, East has five cards, AJ976. Play the Q, which (probably) loses to the Ace. When you are back in dummy, lead the T to the K8x through J976. If J covers, win with the K, then lead from dummy through 9xx to 8x next time. Otherwise T and K win two tricks.

If West plays, duck if he plays the Ace, otherwise cover with the Q. If East shows out, the suit is divided 5-0, and you will win two tricks with the K and Q (if West plays the A), or Q and T on finesses.

Let's say the suit is divided 4-1 either way, which is possible if both follow. The worst that can happen is that West plays low and East captures your Q with the A, singleton or not.

When back in dummy, lead low toward your K8. If East shows out, West has J9x. After winning with the K, lead low toward Tx in dummmy, with the T scoring the second trick.

If East plays, capture the J or 9 with the K. Then your T and 8 are equals against the J (and the T beats the 9).

Otherwise finesse the 8. If West show out, you win a trick with the 8 and later the K. If West can take the 8, the suit is divided 2-3, and you will win two tricks with K and the fourth card.

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