On occasion, a partnership might wind up in a suit contract with only a 4-3 trump fit. The eponymous Moysian fit, named for the prodigious bridge writer Alphonse "Sonny" Moyse Jr. (1897-1973), has an academic yet entertaining history.

In Moyse's day, a partnership might open a 4-card major and raise with 3-card support. Moyse endorsed this freewheeling approach in many of his contributions to The Bridge World, sparking discussion about the actual playability of 4-3 "Moysian" fits.

But 5-card majors have largely taken hold in recent decades, pushing 4-card majors to the wayside. Nowadays a Moysian fit is more likely the result of a bidding misadventure than anything else.

The brain-teasing enjoyment (or stress!) of managing a Moysian fit, however, will persist in perpetuity. Timing can be challenging — trumps will split 4-2 more often than 3-3, thereby threatening the loss of trump control.

Alan Truscott penned the following example in The New York Times in 1977.1


All pass


Opening lead: 8

"North opened with 2C, strong and artificial. He showed his diamond suit on the second round and his partner made a slight error by introducing his feeble heart suit: A raise to 4D would have been preferable. As it was North raised hearts thinking his partner held a five-card suit, but South had to struggle in a Moysian fit.

"The declarer wins the spade lead in dummy and would like to draw trumps. If he plays the ace, king and a third round immediately he finds the three-three break which he needs but is defeated for the defenders cash three club tricks.

"Playing diamonds immediately does not work either, for East ruffs the second round and gives his partner the lead in clubs to secure a second ruff. A more plausible move, often right in such positions, is to duck a round of trumps, but that fails also. The defenders win and quickly play two rounds of clubs, forcing dummy to ruff and leaving South hopelessly placed.

"The right first move is to lead the CK, which serves to cut the defenders' communications. If West returns a club after taking the ace, South can ruff in dummy and play the ace, king and a third trump to score the game: All the defenders will collect is one trump trick and two club tricks.

"So the defenders do best to make a passive return, such as a spade. Whatever they do, South wins and takes two trump winners, leaving each defender with one trump. Then he begins to run diamonds, and the defenders find that all they can take is two trump tricks, sooner or later. When a diamond is ruffed, a trump remains in dummy to deal with a club lead.

"Notice that this play does not work until the CK has been played, for East would ruff and put his partner in with a club lead to play a third round of trumps."


Alphonse Moyse Jr. served as editor of The Bridge World magazine from the 1940s to 1960s. He also worked as the ghost writer for Ely and Josephine Culbertson for many years.

The current publisher and editor of The Bridge World, Jeff Rubens, also wrote an extensive series of 5 articles entitled "The Moysian Fit" in 1967-1968.


1Truscott, A. (1977, August 28). Navigating a Moysean Fit. The New York Times.

See also