July 19th, 2005

Weekly bridge column

				       MOYSIAN FIT

			            by Stephen Rzewski

	             vul:  E-W
                     dlr:  South

					♠ 83
                                        ♥ J1097
					♦ AQ64
					♣ 632

		        West                               East

		       ♠ AK1072                           ♠ QJ654
                       ♥ K532                             ♥ 86
                       ♦ 52                               ♦ 93
                       ♣ 108                              ♣ 9754

				        ♠ 9
                                        ♥ AQ4
                                        ♦ KJ1087
                                        ♣ AKQJ

	              bidding:   S      W       N       E

                                 1♦     1♠     dbl      3♠
                                 4♣     P       4♦      P
                                 4♥     P       P       P

                                opening lead:  ♠ A

	A major-suit game where declarer has only a 4-card trump suit opposite 3-card 
support is often referred to as a “Moysian fit”, named after Alphonse “Sonny” Moyse,
 a renowned player of the Culbertson era and editor of “The Bridge World” magazine 
during the 1950s-60s.  Moyse was a strong advocate of this type of fit, although for 
most players, it is one to be avoided because of the paucity of trumps and the 
likelihood that the opponents’ holding will divide 4-2 or worse (the odds of a 3-3 
division are only about 36%).  Occasionally, though, it does prove to be the best 
contract, but delicate judgment is required.  In this author’s experience, the most 
important points to consider when electing to go this route are:  (1) the trump suit 
should be very strong, so that declarer can control its play effectively, and (2) if 
the opponents have a suit to lead which will force declarer to ruff, it helps greatly 
if there is shortness in that suit in the hand with the 3-card support, so that the 
ruff can be taken without reducing the 4-card length. 

	Today’s hand occurred in a Sectional Open Pairs on Cape Cod some years ago. 
North’s double was “negative”, promising at least four hearts and enough in high-card 
values to make a noise.  East’s 3♠ call was pre-emptive.  Holding five trumps and two 
doubletons, he resisted the urge to bid 4♠ because of the unfavorable vulnerability. 
Had he done so, South would likely have doubled and set that contract two tricks to 
score +500, more than the value of a non-vulnerable game.   After North showed a 
preference for diamonds over clubs, South tried 4♥, patterning out his shape as 1-3-5-
4.  North knew that South had only three hearts, since he had not bid hearts at his 
second turn.  Perhaps she should have pulled 4♥ to 5♦ with such weak trumps, but 
South probably wouldn’t have offered the contract unless he had strong hearts 
himself.  Besides, the lure of achieving a superior matchpoint score was too tempting 
to resist, especially since few, if any players figured to be in the major-suit 

	The defense started with the ace and king of spades, South taking the ruff in 
the short hand. Now came the tricky part:  do you see how declarer played so as to 
bring in ten tricks…..?

	Obviously, in order to enjoy the side winners, declarer must draw some 
trumps.  But if he plays the ace and queen, West will win the king and play a third 
spade.  Now the ruff must be taken in the long hand, and at that point, West will 
have one more trump than dummy, and declarer will eventually lose control of the hand 
from repeated spade leads and go down.  The key play that South must make is to start
trumps with the queen, not the ace.  If West wins and plays another spade, declarer 
can ruff with his remaining ace, then get to dummy with a diamond to play the J109 of 
hearts and draw the remaining trumps.  At the table, West ducked the queen of hearts 
(best).  But South now continued with the ace, then simply abandoned trumps and 
played minor-suit winners.  West scored both his trumps, but whenever he ruffed in, 
dummy had the trump advantage, and thus declarer maintained control.  South scored 
his ten tricks for +420, a cold matchpoint top, as most of the other pairs played the 
routine 5♦ for +400.  The few who bid to 6♦, a reasonable contract which depends on 
the heart finesse, ended up with an unlucky down one.