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Moysian Fit - Referring to declarer's 4-3 trump split named after Alphonse Moyse Jr., who (in certain situations) strongly advocated opening 4 card majors and raises with 3 card support.

Playing a 4-3 Moysian  trump fit is often challenging since one opponent often has as many (64%) or more trump (16%) than the declarer.  The declarer's dilemma is how many rounds of trump to play - playing more than 1 round of trump usually commits the declarer to a given line of play, hoping opponents' trump split relatively evenly.  The two primary strategies when playing a Moysian fit are:

Control playing strategy - hands easier to identify losers, maintaining overall control; holding the Ace of trump may be imperative to control the timing of trump removal (adjusting the number of trump rounds to play based on real-time data).  As expected, the control strategy is usually best at game and slam levels.

Scramble trick-taking strategy - hands easier to identify winners (quick tricks) including pitching losers on Dummy and cross-ruffing, strategies often used in part score contracts.

While these strategies are often sound, here's a notable exception:

Possible auctions for following hand:



1C - 1H;
2N - 3D;
3H - 3S;
4H - P

1C - 1H;
2N - 3S;
4H - P


For those not playing New Minor Forcing, 3D in natural showing shape and game forcing (responder new suit rebids are forcing when opener jumps).  For both auctions, 3S is Western Cuebid asking partner to bid 3 Notrump with a stopper.

For those playing New Minor Forcing, responder rebidding 3D would show 5+ Hearts.  As above, South is forced to bid 3S - Western Cuebid asking partner to bid 3 Notrump with a stopper.

  5 4
A J 10
A 3 2
A K J 3 2
Q J 10 9
5 4
K Q 9
Q J 10 9

Contract: 4H

Declarer: South

A K 8 7
9 8 7 6
J 10 2
6 5
  3 2
K Q 3 2
8 7 6 5 4
Q 10

North opens by bidding 1 Club (not 1 Notrump) with an excellent 17 High Card Point hand, all honors working plus 1 distribution point for the promotable Club suit.  South responds 1 Heart with a slightly more than a minimum hand and North rebids 2 Notrump showing balanced values to show 18-19 playing points lacking 4 Hearts.  South considers passing 2 Notrump but decides to keep the auction alive, hoping the Club Queen-10 and connected Heart King-Queen might be of value to North's powerful hand.  For partnerships who do not play New Minor Forcing in this situation, responder's 3 Diamond rebid rightly shows shape.  Otherwise, 3 Spades might be used to ask North to bid 3 Notrump with a stopper, ala Western Cuebid - especially in a fourth suit forcing auction at the 3 level.  Regardless, without a Spade stopper, North accepts a 4 Heart auction with the 4-3 Moysian trump fit.  True, North's hand is disadvantaged not holding a Spade stopper for the 3 Notrump contract with the lead coming up to the North hand.  Yet on other hand, North's excellent honors in the 3 card Heart suit provides juicy honors to help partner clear the trump suit.  Ditto on Clubs - a great honor holding to help declarer South promote a long side suit to generate tricks.

Declarer can win 4 Hearts, 1 Diamond, and up to 5 Clubs.  However, if an opponents' Heart holding breaks 5-1 (15% chance), the contract fails.   While a control approach appears best, consider a safe alternative here: Ruff 2 Spades, win 3 Hearts, 1 Diamond, and 4 Clubs; it's better to try for at least one normal split (4-2 Clubs).

With many 4-3 Moysian fits, it's often wise to explore establishing a side suit in the face of losing trump control - even with hands as shown above.  Obviously, the contract level is a primary factor in determining the ideal strategy.

Generally, the declarer should strive to:

Maintain a stopper (control) in the short suit, sometimes requiring a holdup

Maintaining enough trumps on the longer trump side to avoid losing control of the short suit (opponents' pumping/dinging trump)

Pitching losers (loser on loser) from long trump hand to maintain trump parity with opponents'

Avoid drawing trump without first or second round trump controls

Incidentally, when pondering a Moysian 4-3 fit, the responder should give careful consideration to the worthless side suit major that prevents them from playing in 3 Notrump.  Looking at the hand above, North is gratified the Spade suit is merely a doubleton, not a problematic worthless side suit tripleton.  On some hands, responder holding a 3 card side suit might challenge the declarer to make the contract.  Should North hold a 3 card Spade suit above, South will be forced to ruff from longer 4 card trump suit.  For some hands, South's honor length will quickly be 'tapped' putting the defenders in control of their suit (Spades).  In that situation, the declarer's counter defense would be to forfeit a third Spade in the North hand rather than allowing the defenders to tap South's 4 card Heart suit.  However, noting the excellent Heart and Club honors in the above North-South hands, lacking a poor 5-2 Heart fit by the opponents South's 4 Heart game is solid even when North holds 3 little Spades (for instance, a 3=3=2=5 shape with the same honors). 

For a detailed discussion, see Bridge World articles February-April, 1967 by Jeff Rubens

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