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What to expect of your opponents

The technically correct play isn’t always best.

Here is a simple example where there is no issue against an expert, but you don’t always play against experts.

You are in a grand slam and having shown all the keycards and the queen you need to pick up this trump suit; the rest of the hand is solid.

86

AKQ975

for no losers.

Let’s say that you have a safe entry to dummy if needed.

You start with the A from your hand and LHO follows with the T or J and RHO follows small.

For the sake of argument you know nothing else about the hand.

Do you cross to dummy and finesse?

Against a player who would always drop an honor from JTx, which should be routine but isn’t for all players, finessing loses in 4 cases and wins in 2 cases. But against a player who would never make the mandatory false card, your only losing case is JT tight, so the odds are 2:1 in favor of the finesse. 

Three questions:

1. Assuming that you are simply trying to make the play most likely to be successful, and you don’t personally know your opponent, when (if ever) do you finesse? For example I would expect it to be winning to finesse in a weak club game. I would not consider finessing in the platinum pairs. How do you think about the wide range in between - basically in what field/circumstances would you expect your unknown opponent to falsecard/not falsecard?

2. Do you generally make the play that you believe is winning against your actual opponent, or do you (for example ) play club games as though you are playing in a serious event to avoid acquiring bad habits? 

3. How would you advise ambitious non-experts to think about this type of situation? Practice as though you are playing in a serious event, or always consider your opponent?

Bonus question: does it ever matter which spot (2, 3, or 4) RHO follows with?

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