Bridge rules Bridge strategy & bidding Bridge championships

Avoidance play

In contract bridge, 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 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.


A J 9 6
7 5 2
A Q J 10 2



K 10 8 4
Q 8 4
A 9 6 5
K 3

South plays 4 and West leads K (indicating the ace), East playing the 3 (signalling 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 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.