Avoidance play
In contract bridge
Contract bridge
Contract bridge, usually known simply as bridge, is a trick-taking card game using a standard deck of 52 playing cards played by four players in two competing partnerships with partners sitting opposite each other around a small table...

, avoidance play is a play technique whereby declarer prevents a particular defender from winning the trick, so as to eschew a dangerous lead from that hand. The dangerous hand is usually the one who is able to finesse
In contract bridge and similar games, a finesse is a technique which allows one to promote tricks based on a favorable position of one or more cards in the hands of the opponents....

 through declarer's honors, to give a ruff to the partner or to cash one or more established winners. Avoidance play can be regarded as one type of safety play
Safety play
Safety play in contract bridge is a generic name for plays in which declarer maximizes the chances for fulfilling the contract by ignoring a chance for a higher score. Declarer uses safety plays to cope with potentially unfavorable layouts of the opponent's cards...



South plays 4 and West leads K (indicating the ace), East playing the 3 (signal
Signal (bridge)
In the card game of contract bridge, partners defending against a contract may play particular cards in a manner which gives a signal or coded meaning to guide their subsequent card play; also referred to as carding.-Standard signals:...

ling the odd number of hearts and discouraging the continuation). West continues with a club, increasing the probability of defensive ruff in that suit.

The declarer has plenty of tricks, but is missing the trump queen and two top hearts; giving up the third heart early would probably mean losing the contract. Since A is almost certainly with West, if East gets the trump queen, he could finesse declarer's Q. Thus, the declarer must not allow East to get the trick, and so must play a trump first and finesse against the queen in East's hand. If West has the Q and takes it, he could only take one more heart trick.

Note that, even if South had fifth trump instead of a diamond (playing in 5-4 fit), the same technique—finessing the queen against East—would practically ensure the contract (safety play). If the trumps are distributed x—Qxx, the percentage play
Percentage play
Percentage play in contract bridge is a play influenced by mathematical factors when more than one reasonable line of play is available. It is a generic name for plays in which declarer maximizes the chances for obtaining a certain number of tricks or the maximum number of tricks when considering...

of playing AK in trumps would endanger the contract, as East could ruff a later round of clubs with Q and play a heart through. With the avoidance finesse, West could win a "non-existing" trump trick if the trumps were distributed Qx–xx, but could not set the contract.
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