Now the bidding is over and you have your bridge contract to play. Your LHO (left hand opponent) has select the card for opening lead and put it face down in the table. Your partner lay the card on the table as dummy and it is time for declarer play.
There are basically 2 different declarer plays: playing a suit contract and playing NT (No Trump) contract. I suggest you concentrate on how to play a NT contract first as it give you the skill also needed to play the suit contract.
But before even play, there are several things you need to do:
- Count all the HCP (high card point) in your hand and dummy’s hand. The total hcp is 40, then you know how many points the opponent have.
- Analyze the bidding. If there is no bidding from opponent, then you don’t have any new information. But if opponent has bid during the bidding, you need to determine: the minimum card of the suit he/she bid and point of that opponent.
Make an educated assumption or guess as where the points are (LHO or RHO)
- Analyze the opening lead.
- First thing: is it from long suit or short suit?
- Is it lead from a honor (Ace, K, Q or J) or not ?
- Why he/she lead/choose the suit to lead? Is it partner’s suit? What is the intention?
Don’t be overwhelm at this stage if you don’t understand some of the questions above, you will be very soon. Just bear in mind that those items are things that need to be done to be a successful declarer.
Playing NT Contract
Playing NT contract is basically finding a trick to be won. You must count your existing trick first, then you know how many trick more that you need to establish.
Let see the 3NT contract hands above. To make the contract you need 9 tricks. Currently you only have 5 tricks (A,K of diamond, A of spade on hand and A of clubs, K of spade on dummy) – so you need 4 more tricks.
From where we can get additional tricks?
Well, for a start look at Club suit. We have 8 cards on both hand (meaning opponent only have 5 cards between them) and the only honor missing is K of club. If K of club is with LHO (left hand opponent) then most likely opponent will not win any trick in club. (Just play Q of club from hand, if LHO produce K, then play Ace from the dummy. if LHO produce small card, play small from the dummy: this technique is called “finesse“).
Therefore potentially we will have 4 additional tricks from Club suit if K of Club is with LHO – or only 3 additional tricks if K of club is with RHO.
If it is only 3 tricks, then we need to get another trick from Heart suit. So, in total we could have 9 tricks and make the contract.
Now look at the threat from opponent. They lead Q of diamond, most likely from 5 cards or 4 cards suit and we only have 2 “stopper” before they establish their suit . Remember defender cannot get more than 4 tricks in order for us to get 9 tricks.
From our potential trick analysis above, in order for us to get 9 tricks, we know that defender could win 2 tricks already (King of club if RHO holds it, and A of heart), then from diamond we cannot afford to lose more than 2 tricks.
There are 8 cards of diamond between opponents, so if it’s split 4-4 then we are safe. But what if it’s split 5-3? (which is seems likely since LHO lead the suit) – so, we need to make sure LHO don’t have the chance to make 3 diamond tricks.
So, on the opening lead, you play small on the table and win with diamond K on hand – our first trick (we have only 1 diamond stopper now).
Then immediately play small heart to King to knock out the Ace of Heart. Once the Ace of heart win – first trick for opponent, our Q of heart is another trick ready for you. Most likely the opponent will return another diamond.
On this trick, you need to “duck” the diamond (let the opponent win) – 2 tricks for opponent. Why? Because if it’s split 5-3 (RHO have only 3 trick), by the time another diamond is played, RHO will have no more diamond to establish his/her partner’s long suit when he/she win with K of club.
On another diamond continuation, you win on hand with A – 3 tricks for you (2 tricks for opponent)- then play Q of club. Say RHO win with K of club- 3 tricks for you (3 tricks for opponent). But he doesn’t have another diamond to lead. If he has another diamond, that’s mean the diamon is split 4-4 and we are still alright.
Now any return back from RHO, you already have your 9 tricks to cash. Contract made.
The sequence is also important. If you did not play heart early, meaning the rest of opponent’s 5 cards of Diamond has been established before Ace of Heart being played, you will be in the mercy of who owns the Ace of heart. If Ace of heart held by the one has long diamond, then the contract is in jeopardy.
Do you have any other way to make the contract ? Post a comment and tell us how you do it!
Category: Bridge Basic