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January 11, 2003
Should You Play for the Drop or Finesse?

Should You Play for the Drop or Finesse?

You have learned that how you play a suit varies based on what you know. However, you must have a good understanding of the starting place. What is the correct mathematical play if no other information is available? Below is a set of card combinations. In each case decide the best play for the number of tricks indicated. Should you play for the drop of the missing honor or should you take a finesse? You are in the South hand.

Problems:

North   No. 1
You lead low from the South hand and LHO plays low. You need 6 tricks.

AQJ1098

South
76543
___ Play the A (drop).
___ Play the Q (finesse).
___ Guess. The plays are exactly equal.

 

North   No. 2
You lead low from the South hand and LHO plays low. You need 5 tricks.

KQJ987

South
2
___ Play the K (drop).
___ Play the 9 (finesse).
___ Guess. The plays are exactly equal.

 

North   No. 3
You lead low from the South hand and LHO plays low. You need 8 tricks.

AKJ109876

South
2
___ Play the A (drop).
___ Play the J (finesse).
___ Guess. The plays are exactly equal.

 

North   No. 4
You lead low from the South hand and LHO plays low. You need 4 tricks.

AKQ10

South
2
___ Play the A (drop).
___ Play the 10 (finesse).
___ Guess. The plays are exactly equal.

 

North   No. 5
You lead low from the South hand and LHO plays low. You need 5 tricks.

AKQ109

South
2
___ Play the A (drop).
___ Play the 10 (finesse).
___ Guess. The plays are exactly equal.

 

North   No. 6
You lead low from the South hand and LHO plays low. You need 6 tricks.

AKQ1098

South
2
___ Play the A (drop).
___ Play the 10 (finesse).
___ Guess. The plays are exactly equal.

 

Answers:

Values rounded to 1/10th of a %.

No. 1 - Play for the drop of the king by playing the A. It is 2.0% more likely.

West East Occurrence
2 K 26.0%
Drop 26.0%
K2 --- 24.0%
Finesse 24.0%

No. 2 - Play for the drop of the ten by playing the K. It is 10.8% more likely.

West East Occurrence
xxx xxx 35.5%
10x xxxx 8.1%
xxxx 10x 8.1%
xxxxx 10 1.2%
Drop 52.9%
10xx xxx 17.8%
10x xxxx 8.1%
10xxx xx 16.2%
Finesse 42.1%

No. 3 - Play for the drop of the queen by playing the A. It is 7.8% more likely.

West East Occurrence
xx xx 40.7%
xxx Q 6.2%
Drop 46.9%
Qx xx 20.4%
Qxx x 18.7%
Finesse 39.1%

No. 4 - Play for the finesse against the jack by playing the 10. It is 27.8% more likely.

West East Occurrence
Jx xxxxxx 2.1%
Jxx xxxxx 8.8%
xxxxxxx J 0.2%
xxxxxx Jx 2.1%
xxxxx Jxx 8.8%
Drop 22.0%
Jx xxxxxx 2.1%
Jxx xxxxx 8.8%
Jxxx xxxx 16.4%
Jxxxx xxx 14.7%
Jxxxxx xx 6.4%
Jxxxxxx x 1.3%
Jxxxxxxx --- 0.1%
Finesse 49.8%

No. 5 - Play for the drop of the jack by playing the A. It is 0.4% more likely.

West East Occurrence
Jx xxxxx 4.4%
Jxx xxxx 13.3%
xxxxxx J 0.5%
xxxxx Jx 4.4%
xxxx Jxx 13.3%
Drop 35.9%
Jx xxxxx 4.4%
Jxx xxxx 13.3%
Jxxx xxx 17.8%
Finesse 35.5%

No. 6 - Play for the drop of the jack by playing the A. It is 11.1% more likely.

West East Occurrence
Jx xxxx 8.1%
Jxx xxx 17.8%
xxxxx J 1.2%
xxxx Jx 8.1%
xxx Jxx 17.8%
Drop 53.0%
Jx xxxx 8.1%
Jxx xxx 17.8%
Jxxx xx 16.2%
Finesse 42.1%

-Gary King
 

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