#### Comment Preferences

• ##### Thanks for the book lead ...(3+ / 0-)
Recommended by:
plf515, SciMathGuy, elropsych

... I've recently begun playing bridge fairly regularly (after having played very sporadically about 35 years ago and not at all since). I figure some basic probabilities would improve my chances greatly.

Here's one fairly common situation for which I tried to work out the probabilities: You're declarer and hold the ace, king, and jack of trump. There are five trump out against you. Is it better to try the finesse or to play the ace, king hoping to drop the queen? (Opponents haven't bid so you have no information from them.) I think the finesse is the better play.

Also, when you're not vulnerable and have nothing on, I think it's always better to play at game level rather than one below - even if you're short on points for game.

• ##### I think that in bridge(4+ / 0-)

so much depends on so many things (e.g. the bidding) that the pure probabilities rarely enter into it; you're dealing with highly conditional probabilities, and the conditioning is not precise.

• ##### Depends...(4+ / 0-)
Recommended by:
Dave in RI, plf515, SciMathGuy, NCrissieB

Often the best way to play is to play other suits and try to get more information about your trump suit. Off-trump cards played by opponents may reveal the location of the queen!  (You can get a count on the hand -- the distribution of suits for each player -- or be able to limit the point values or distribution of an opponents hand, with the bidding as an additional clue.)

When possible, playing a few almost certain winners before working on trumps is the expert's choice. You may lose a few hands when a side suit breaks 6-0 or something else nasty, but the Bayesianpayoff of additional information is usually pretty high.

Of course, sometimes you have to draw trump first - say, if the bidding has revealed the side suits as freak splits, or you don't have any sure winners to play & the opponents can hurt you with a lead.

If you don't know where you are going, you will wind up somewhere else. Yogi Berra

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