EIGHT EVER / NINE NEVER

 
  This bridge maxim pertains to Declarer play only. The other maxims: second hand low; third hand high; and cover an honor with an honor,  were for Defensive play only. 
        What does this maxim, Eight Ever, Nine Never, mean? Eight and nine what? And what is this ever never stuff?  Are there any maybes? Or perhaps a few perhaps. And what do the numbers 8 and 9 refer to?
          Sometimes we just draw a blank.

 
 

 

           Answers: Ever means ever or always finesse for the Queen; and Never means never finesse  for the Queen.  These numbers, 8 and 9, refer to the combined number of cards in a suit between Dummy and Declarer. So if there are eight cards in a suit between Dummy and Declarer’s hand and the Queen is missing (she ran away with the King?) then take the finesse. 
         With nine cards in the combined hands and the Queen missing do not take the finesse. Play for the Queen to drop by playing the Ace/King.  If the Queen does not drop or if the finesse loses then cry, curse, blame your partner or contemplate suicide.  For even though bridge is just a card game the psychic / spiritual /emotional stakes are very  high. 

 
  EXAMPLE 1. It is Eight/Ever.  Play the 5S  to the Ace then play the 7 S to the Jack.  If the Queen is onside and the suit splits 3/2 you will make six tricks. 
        EXAMPLE 2. It is Nine/Never.  So play the 
H and K H (the order does not really matter) and hope the Queen drops.  If it does you have no losers in the suit. 
        EXAMPLE 3. It is finesse time.  But how?  Where is the Queen? If you sort of know - from the bidding and previous play - then act accordingly.   But if you draw a blank, then try to entice a Defender into playing the lady.  Lead the J C from Declarer’s hand.  If West has the Queen, he might cover the Jack. Remember the old saw cover an honor with an honor.)  If the J C does not get covered, then win with the A C and finesse the other way.  That is, play the 2 C and let it ride. 
      EXAMPLE 4: The percentage play (75%) is to play for split honors: Q D in one of the ddefender's hand and J D in the other. Now take the finesese. If it loses and when you get the lead, finesse again. (see Double Hook.)
     With all of these examples it is always assumed that this is the superior (or only) line of play.  Watch out for the EXCEPTIONS.
EXAMPLES
1.
DUMMY
S  A 7
 
 

HAND

S  K J 9 8 6 5
2.
 DUMMY
H  K J 6 4 3
 
 

HAND

H  A 8 5 2

 
 
 
 
 
3.
DUMMY
C  A 7 6 2
 
 

HAND

C  K J 10 9
4.
DUMMY
D  A K 7 3
 
 

HAND

D  10 9 8 4
 
  EXCEPTIONS
  • If taking the finesse blocks the suit. 
  • If playing for the drop fails the dangerous opponent will get the lead. 
  • If taking the finesse loses the opponents will ruff a winner.
  • Missing high cards for the finesse so you must play for the drop.
EXAMPLE 5. Even though it is 8 Ever for Diamonds, the finesse should not be taken. If the finesse loses a Spade return knocks out Dummy’s last entry. And the stiff Ace/King of Diamonds blocks the suit.  Play the top Diamonds.  If the Queen does not fall play the 2 D. You will always get 4 Diamonds, 2 Spades, 2 Hearts and a Club for 9 tricks. 
          EXAMPLE 6. Declarer wins the third Spade.  The danger hand is West. So even though it is 9 Never for Diamonds, do not play for the Queen 
to drop. Because if West has the Queen tripleton he will win and run the Spades.  Play the K D  then take the finesse.  Even if it loses East can do no harm and the rest of the Diamonds are good.  You will make 5 Diamonds, a Spade, 2 Hearts and 2 Clubs for 10 tricks. 
EXAMPLE 7. East plays the A D and returns the 3 D. It seem that East started with a doubleton Diamond. It is 8 Ever in Hearts but do not take the finesse.  If the finesse loses West will return a Diamond for East to ruff. And you will lose a Spade; a Heart; a Diamond; and a Diamond ruffed for down one.  If you play trump for the drop, even if the Queen does not fall, you will 
only lose a Heart, a Spade and a Diamond.  Making game.
EXAMPLE 8: There is no finesse even with 8 cards in the suit. The only hope of making all the trump is to play for the Queen and Jack to drop under the Ace and King.
EXAMPLES
5.
DUMMY
S  A K 5
H  10 4 2
D  J 10 9 7 3
C  9 3
 
 

HAND

S  9 4 3
H  A K 8
D  A K 2
C  A 8 6 4
6.
 DUMMY
S  8 7
H  9 6
D  A J 9 7 5 3
C  A 7 6 
 
 

HAND

S  A 6 2
H  A K 5 3
D  K 9 2
C  K 5 2
CONTRACT: 3NT  OPENING LEAD: 
QS
  CONTRACT:3NT 
  OPENING LEAD:
         K S

 
 
 
 
   
7.
DUMMY
S  A J 7
H  K 6 3
D  9 7 6 5 2
C  A 5
 
 

HAND

S  9 3
H  A J 10 9 8
D  K Q 8
C  J 
8.
DUMMY
S  A Q
H  A 10 4 3
D  9 5 3
C  K 7 6 5
 
 

HAND

S  K 7
H  K 7 5 2
D  A Q J 4
C  A 8 4
CONTRACT: 4 H
OPENING LEAD: 
D
   CONTRACT: 4H
  OPENING LEAD:
         Q C
.
 
 

 PREVIOUS | HOME PAGE | HAND INDEX | GLOSSARY | LIBRARY & LINKS | E - MAIL