An obligatory finesse occurs when declarer is "obliged" to duck an honor. For example:

Dummy
K765
WestEast
??? ???
South
SQ432


Needing 3 tricks in the suit, you lead toward the king, which holds the trick. You continue with a low card from dummy, East playing low. At this point, you have an obligatory finesse. Play low from hand and hope that West started life with the doubleton ace.

A similar example needing 4 tricks:

Dummy
Q32
WestEast
??? ???
South
SK7654


You lead low to the queen, which wins. A spade back to hand should be ducked in case West began with the doubleton ace.

See also

  • Backward Finesse
    A finesse that's taken in the "opposite" direction of a regular finesse.

  • Chinese Finesse
    The lead of an unsupported honor as a pretense to a legitimate finesse.

  • Double Finesse
    A finesse against two opposing honor cards.

  • "Eight Ever, Nine Never"
    A rule for finessing with 8 or 9 cards missing the queen.

  • Intra-Finesse
    A type of finesse against three opposing honor cards.

  • Marked Finesse
    A finesse made obvious by the auction or play of the hand.

  • Ruffing Finesse
    A finesse for an enemy card (usually an honor) by threat of a ruff.

  • Simple Finesse
    A finesse for a card (usually an honor) held by the opponents.

  • Triple Finesse
    A finesse against three opposing honor cards.

  • Two-Way Finesse
    A card combination in which either defender can be finessed for a queen.
Online Audio Lessons by Marty Bergen