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A 4-3 trump fit is known as a "Moyesian" fit after an expert who liked to play such hands, even with fewer trumps than the standard eight card fits.

Their main downside is that with six cards in the opponents' hands, one opponent would occasionally have a longer (five or six card) trump suit than the declarer. This would lead to control problems, and potentially to large sets.

In duplicate bridge, particularly matchpoints, the frequency of the wins is more important than the size of the wins. In my club, at least, players that bid good Moyesian fits (those with good high card control) tend to do well in the scoring. The boards on which they lose to long opposing suits don't hurt them much because the size of the losses don't matter as much as their rarity.

Would playing Moyesian fits generally be a better idea in duplicate, given the differences in scoring between rubber and duplicate bridge?

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    Differences in declarer/defender skill is crucial here. Some partners I am much happier to put in Moysians than other partners. Commented Mar 16, 2023 at 13:25
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    @AlexanderWoo: A key skill for "Moyesian" play is ducking, rather than ruffing in hand so that the ruff of an opposing long suit eventually takes place in the short trump hand. A second key skill is having extra high card points in reserve when you are bidding with one less trump than normal.
    – Tom Au
    Commented Mar 16, 2023 at 18:31
  • @TomAu: More fundamental to successful play of a Moysian fit: Be a superb declarer, as Alphonse "Sonny" Moyse Jr. himself was. Generalizing that "play of difficult hands requires not ruffing in the long hand" would presuppose that difficult hands are now easier. Not true, as perhaps a cross-ruff is the correct line. Barry Crane, like Moyse, was a proponent of 4-card major openings; and likewise was unconcerned at ending up in the occasional 4-3 fit in consequence. Also, do you mean Match Points in the title instead of Duplicate? IMP play is also "duplicate". Commented Mar 17, 2023 at 14:05

2 Answers 2

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I've can think of four common-ish scenarios for Moysian fits

  1. I made a takeout double and partner bid my three-card suit.
  2. I made a 4-card overcall and partner raised. This can get you a good result a the 2-level and moreover, can push opponents to the three level if they want to compete, especially if they assume you and partner have an 8-card fit. This is particularly valuable at matchpoints.
  3. I responded to an opening bid with a 4-card major, and opener raised on three (not three small, but usually Qxx or better). Many pairs swear by this style for matchpoints and has similar effects to #2. However, when they try for game, 90% of the time they'll play in 3NT.
  4. We explored for NT and found we lacked a stopper. The main considerations: (a) strength in the suit, and (b) the 3-card holder should also have shortness in the partnership's weak suit. If the 4-card holder is short in the weak suit, they will be "tapped", i.e. forced to ruff from the long hand or lose the trick, making it unlikely it's a good score in any form of scoring.
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  • In my duplicate club, pairs that are willing to bid Moysian fits tend to do well, except when the six opposing trumps split 5-1 or 6-0, which doesn't happen too often.
    – Tom Au
    Commented Apr 4, 2023 at 2:11
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An interesting question! However I think Moyesian is more the question of whether you want to play in NT or a suit, rather than a different strategy for rubber or duplicate.

When you can judge the right time to play one, you should score higher in both rubber and duplicate! - If a 3 card suit is accompanied by shortage in another suit for ruffs, then the higher-risk Moyesian often plays better than NT and scores a trick more. Although a 4333 shape usually plays better in NT.

It the question were altered to whether one should declare rather than defend with a Moyesian fit, I think it's still the case that when you can judge the right time to play one you'll do better at both rubber and duplicate. While duplicate is more of a part-score game, the Law of Total Tricks rarely justifies it and it's easy to bid on too high. Just think about how often you want to play a 4-4 fit as 3NT at duplicate, let alone a 4-3 fit.

Moyesians provide a good last chance saloon when NT looks suspect, which will often improve your scores, but aren't a substitute for a good 4-4 fit.

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