Or at least, I was surprised not to know.
Consider the following combinations:
A: AQ983 in hand opposite 542
B: AJ82 in hand opposite K543
and assume you are maximizing average tricks, with no entry restrictions.
Alan Applebaum was asking a bunch of people on Friday, just before the LM pairs started, about A. Almost everyone (including some top players) played low to the 8, then if that lost planned to hook the Q the second time. This is actually wrong, because it only gains when lho has JT doubleton and loses when he has stiff “jen,” compared to hooking the 9 the second round – it’s a restricted choice position, but one that seems to have gone unnoticed by almost everyone.
Then later that day at the table, position B came up, which happens to be a very close cousin. Our opponent cashed the K, and when the T appeared on the left hooked the J, commenting that she wasn’t sure that was right. Actually it’s right to hook the 8 (or cover righty’s 9 cheaply) on the second round, for similar reasons. You win against stiff T ( or 9), lose to doubleton T9; by restricted choice the stiff “tine” is more likely. At the table, only the third-best approach of going up ace worked; lefty had QT tight. I bet many good players would briefly consider going up ace, then hook the J because they know going up is too susceptible to falsecarding…but wouldn’t even consider the best option of hooking the 8! All I can tell from the recap sheet is that about 25% of the field dropped the Q; no idea how many hooked the J versus the 8.
By the way, there was another consideration on this hand: About 25%** of the field got to the optimal 6nt while the rest, as did my opponents, bid to 6h with this as the trump suit and no other losers anywhere. I’m ignoring the very few who went minus in a grand. Those in the inferior 6H would be justified in taking an anti-field approach in the play, which rates to gain about 70% of the mps when right but lose only about 30% when wrong. I can’t say for sure if the J or 8 is anti-field, but I do know the A is! Disappointingly, a glance at the recap seems to show no correlation between the contract and the number of tricks taken -- those who went +1020 should be a bit ashamed, as 990 was already a good score!
** Update, 7/30: I actually counted frequencies of the scores, see comments.
6 months ago