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Declarers learn to finesse against their opponent’s honors. It is wise to remember your opponents can finesse against in your honors. To protect your honors, try to avoid letting an a defender who can lead through your honors gain the lead. This tactic is called an Avoidance Play.

The hand to the right illustrates an Avoidance Play. West leads the ♠5, their 4th best spade, against 3NT. Dummy (North) plays the ♠8. East plays the ♠9, lowest of the touching 10-9. Declarer wins the ♠Jack. Since the 3rd hand playing to a trick will typically play their highest card (or lowest of touching high cards), Declarer places West with the ♠Ace-Queen. If East gains the lead, East can lead a spade to finesse South remaining ♠King. This makes East the Dangerous Opponent. South wants to keep East off lead.

Declarer has won a spade trick and have 7 quick winners: AKQ AK ♣AK. This brings declarer to 8 tricks. Declarer would like to get an additional diamond trick without letting East gain the lead. Declarer has a 2-way finesse against the Queen. Declarer chooses to finesse against East for the Queen to ensure East doesn’t gain the lead. Here, West has the Queen and declarer wins 10 tricks. Even if West had the Queen, finessing against East ensures 9 tricks.

The following board illustrates a Hold Up play combined with an Avoidance Play.

West leads the ♠King, top of an honor sequence, against 3NT. East-West has 8 spades between them. If the spades break 4-4, declarer will lose just 3 spade tricks. If spades break 5-3, declarer can hold up their ♠Ace until the 3rd round of spades to cut defensive communication. Declarer has 8 quick winners: ♠A AKQ AK ♣AK. The hearts are blocked, but declarer can afford to cash the King-Queen to unblock the suit.

Declarer has a 2-way finesse for the Queen. The “8 ever, 9 never” adage suggests attempting to drop the Queen. If West has ♦Qxx, as shown, cashing the Ace-King will allow West to beat 3NT with 4 spade tricks and 1 diamond trick. Declarer prefers to finesse against West for the Queen to keep West, the Dangerous Opponent, off lead. Here, West has the guarded Queen. Finessing against West allows declarer to win 11 tricks.