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Eight Ever Nine Never

This is a common bridge rhyme designed to help memorise the rule where declarer has eight or nine cards in a suit including the Ace and King, and is trying to choose a strategy for drawing the opponent’s’ queen without losing a trick.


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When to finesse and when to play for The Drop?

Definition

“Eight ever, nine never” is a designed to help the declarer who has eight or nine cards in a suit including the Ace and King and who is trying to decide whether or not to take a finesse and cannot afford to lose a trick in the suit. ‘Eight Ever’ means when you hold an 8 card fit in a suit you should always try for the finesse. ‘Nine, Never’ means that you should never chance a finesse with a 9 card fit you should instead play for the drop leading out your Ace and King hoping that the outstanding honor is in a singleton or doubleton and must be played.

The Odds

Faced with the decision between making a finesse or playing for ‘the drop’ declarer should look at his holding in the suit. The finesse always has a 50-50 chance of success, whereas playing for the drop with a 9 card suit has a slightly higher percentage success at 53%. The drop becomes more likely to succeed the more cards the declarer holds in the suit.

North

Dummy
♠ Q J 7
♥ A J 10 6 4 3
♦ K 3
♣ 8 3

Play the Ace of Hearts first – hoping the Queen will drop

South

Declarer
♠ K 9 4 2
♥ K 9 5
♦ A
♣ A K J 9 4

If you are in Slam and cannot afford to lose a heart trick

The Rules

With a nine card fit – leading out your Ace and King gives  a 3% better chance of success than playing for the finesse of the outstanding Queen honor card.

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