Passion of The Game of Bridge

Declarer Play: Playing Suit Contract

Theoretically, you will play a suit contract 4 times more often than NT contract. Playing a suit contract is a little bit more complicated as the highest card in a suit will not always win if a trump suit is being played. “Trumping” or “Ruffing” become part of the 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.

And as a reminder, there are several things you need to do before start playing the contract:

  1. Count all the HCP (high card point) in both your hand and dummy’s hand. The total hcp is 40, then you know how many points the opponent have.
  2. 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)
  3. 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 Suit Contract

There are 2 additional factors compare to playing NT contract that you need to prepare: (1) How many loser in each suit that you have – (2) How many trick needed from ruffing (use trump to make the trick).


4 Contract
Opening Lead:J K862

Let see the hands above. The trump is Heart suit. Opponent did not bid during the auction and the HCP is split 20 – 20. Since none of the opponent make a bid, then the point could be also spread evenly between them. Good bidding to reach the contract, but now how to play it.

Looking at the opening lead, you first need to assume that it will be from a short suit as the LHO might want to trump it.

Look at the losers: no loser in Spade, 1 loser in Heart, 1 loser in Diamond and 1 loser in Club. Outside the loser, we still need to trump 1 diamond and 2 Spade. So we need 3 trump card in the dummy before we can fully draw all the trump

The trump outside your hand is only 4 cards – if it’s split evenly, 2 rounds of trump will withdraw all the trump in opponent hands.

Let’s play it:

  1. First trick win on dummy by Ace of Spade (1 trick for us, 0 trick for opponent)
  2. Play trump to get to hand – first to reduce LHO trump a spade (if LHO hold singleton trump) the risk is the opponent play Ace of trump and another trump reducing trump in dummy we need to trump 2 Spade and 1 Diamond. But this can be compensated by establishing Club. Play small trump to the Ten, all follows and Ace of Heart win (1 trick for us, 1 trick for opponent).
  3. LHO continue another Heart, RHO throw a small Diamon, and Jack of Heart on hand wins (2 tricks for us, 1 trick for opponent) – Now we have only 2 trump on dummy with 1 more trump in opponent hand
    4 Contract after 3 tricks
  4. Then we play King of Spade and throw the singleton Q of diamond. If LHO trumps with the last trump, it can be counted as 1 Diamond loser anyway – but LHO still follow with small Spade (3 tricks for us, 1 trick for opponent)
  5. Play small Club to the Queen – RHO win with King (3 tricks for us, 2 tricks for opponent).
  6. Any return (Spade or Diamond) will be ruff in the dummy. RHO return Diamond, ruff on dummy (4 tricks for us, 2 tricks for opponent)
  7. The J of club, covered by King and ruff on hand. (5 tricks for us, 2 tricks for opponent)
  8. Now play a Diamond to be ruffed on dummy. (6 trick for us, 2 tricks for opponent)
    4 Contract after 8 tricks
  9. And now, play the establish 10 of C and throw a Spade (7 tricks for us, 2 tricks for opponent)
  10. Another club to force the last trump to ruff (ditching a Spade) (7 tricks for us, 3 tricks for opponent)
  11. Then any return will be win in hand with all cards are high (2 trumps and Queen of Spade) – At the end: 10 tricks for us, 3 tricks for opponent

Contract made.

Yes, the exact distribution might vary time to time and give you another unexpected problem sometimes. That’s the beauty of the game!

Do you have any other way to make the contract ? Post a comment and tell us how you do it!

One comment

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