Mark Blumenthal

Idiot’s Finesses – 1

Most books dealing with defensive techniques in bridge teach subjects such as counting declarer’s high card points. They discuss the various defensive tools such as unblocks, holdups and false cards. However, no book I have read touches the combination of unblock and false card called the ‘idiot’s finesse.’ Why is it named an idiot’s finesse? Because only a declarer who is not too bright could fall for such a ploy.

The idea behind an idiot’s finesse is to give the declarer an opportunity to go wrong when there would be none. A basic example is this:


Qx                             Jx (you)

A8xx (declarer)

Declarer leads leads to his king, and you holding Jx play small. Declarer now leads small back to his hand and your jack makes him play the ace dropping your partner’s queen. What if instead you were to play the jack on the first round of the suit?  Now when declarer leads towards his ace you play small. Now it becomes possible for him to put in the eight and lose to your partner’s queen. Certainly  some declarer might think, “This an example of restricted choice.  The jack was already played, and there is a finessing position.”

It could never happen, you might think. You would be surprised. My first experience with an idiot’s finesse was almost as simple as that.:



West East
Axx xx
xxxx Qxxxx
QJ10 xxxxx
Qxx 10xx

Sitting West and defending against six spades I led the queen of diamonds. Declarer knocked out the ace of spades, and I continued with the jack of diamonds. After drawing trumps declarer led a club to the jack  which naturally won and led a club back to the ace upon which I followed by playing the queen.

Now declarer ran his tricks hoping something good would happen. Seeing he had no other recourse, at trick twelve he led a small club towards dummy’s king nine. When I followed with a small club declarer remembered that the queen had dropped, and that the ten was still out.  After due deliberation he finessed the nine, losing the last two tricks.  Of course these plays don’t always work.  Sometimes declarer ‘guesses’ corrrectly.


Anony fussMay 14th, 2009 at 2:01 pm

why didn’t declarer just cash both his club Aces? 🙂

Chris HasneyMay 14th, 2009 at 4:32 pm

rofl. It is so hard to get all 52 cards divided into 13 each and not have a dup when one is writing. I know why, it has to do with writer’s blindness and the use of similar hands for similar examples.

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