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Take the Drop ?

In Bridge, to “drop” means to lead out your higher honour(s), in the hope that the opposing honour will fall underneath, will drop. It is the alternative to the finesse. Take:

  • (a) AQ10864 facing J97532

  • (b) AQ10864 facing J9753

  • (c) AQ1086 facing J9753

In each case, would you bang down the ace, and hope for the missing king to “drop”? Or would you take a finesse, involving leading from the other hand to (say) the queen? Finesse or Drop?

  • In (a), you are missing just one card (the king). He must drop.

  • In (c) you are missing three cards. Let us assume they are splitting 2-1 (if they are 3-0, then only a finesse can work). A prior, the king is precisely twice as likely to be in the hand with two cards - because either one could be the king. The king is unlikely to be singleton (and drop). The odds heavily favour taking a finesse.

  • (b) is much closer - almost a toss-up. The odds slightly favour the “drop”, but any sixth-sense, or clue from the bidding/play to date, should swing you to finesse.

West Deals
N-S Vul

10 9 4

Q 8 5 4 2


A Q 9


10 8 6 4 2

8 6 5 4 2








7 5 3 2

K 7

7 5 3

J 10 7 3


J 8 6

A J 10 9 6 3

A Q 9







1 NT1



All pass




  1. Preferable to 1  - avoiding the need for a rebid.

What happened
West cashed  AKQ against 4 . Declarer won  8 switch with  J and, reflecting that a 1-1 split is slightly more likely than 2-0, led to  A. He cursed when West discarded, now losing to  K. Down one.

What should have happened
It is dangerous to take too reductionist an approach at Bridge. Suits can rarely be taken in isolation. The expert declarer wins the diamond in dummy, and advances  Q (key play - there is no cost in tempting East into an injudicious cover). When East smoothly plays low (not an easy thing to do), declarer puts on his thinking cap.

Although the a prior odds, missing two cards including the king, (slightly) favour the drop, there is a overpowering reason to finesse. Have you spotted it?

West passed as dealer, yet has revealed  AKQ. There is no room for  K - or he would have opened the bidding. Run  Q - successfully. A second heart sees you beat East’s  K with  A. Game made.

If you remember just one thing...
Consider all clues when deciding how to play a suit, not merely the a prior odds.

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