Quick summary

When the Queen is missing, finesse when you have 8-cards, play for the drop with 9.

When finessing, play the Ace first to strip out a "bare" queen.

Exceptions: You can often deduce both the position of the missing queen, and the distribution

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With 9 cards, play for the Queen to drop

When the Queen is missing: finesse when you have 8-cards, but with 9-cards you should play for the drop.

The reason is that when the opposition have 4-cards, it is slightly more likely that they will have Qx on either side, rather than Qxx on the "right" side.

Exceptions: You can often deduce both the position of the missing queen, and the distribution

  • the bidding shows the 4 cards split Qxx, with Q on the wrong side ('offside)'
  • a takeout double shows shortage in one suit, placing the Q in the other hand
  • a takeout double shows at least 3-cards in the other suits
  • the high bidding shows the opponents have a distributional hand, which allows you to work out that a 3-1 split is more likely
  • the play, so far, plus the bidding, shows that the vital queen must be in a certain place
  • the opponent point count and cards already played shows the Q is in the wrong place
  • a 2-suited overcall shows two short suits, placing the queens in the other hand

When finessing, play the Ace first to strip out a "bare" queen.

With 11 cards, play for the King to drop

When the King is missing: finesse when you have 10-cards or fewer, but with 11-cards you should play for the drop.

The reason is that when the opposition have 2-cards, it is slightly more likely that they will have a bare King on one side, rather than Kx on the "right" side.

Exceptions: As above when finessing the Queen, you can often deduce both the position of the missing King, and the distribution

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