Pre-requisite Review Lesson 2 – Basic Leading and Playing Lesson 2 was introduced first to facilitate early game-playing. Now we’re getting into slightly more details regarding declarer play – the first important milestone to cross for any budding bridge player
Step 1: Count Your Winners If you have enough winners, take them and claim your contract For trump games, you have to draw out all of opponents’ trumps before you can claim winners in other suits as sure winners By drawing out opponents’ trumps, you make the game an NT game If you don’t have enough, you have to find other ways to generate more winners
Step 2: Promotion Holding KQJT may give you 6 points but does not present any immediate winners. Therefore, you need to promote your winners. When holding a sequence, playing any card within the sequence will force opponents to play a higher card (if they want to win the trick). With KQJT, after opponents play A, the other 3 become winners. Drawing out opponents’ high cards to “promote” your other cards to winner status – hence this is known as card promotion This is also known as “establishing a suit”
Step 3: Run Long Suit Caveat: unless it is the trump suit – there is usually no point in running a trump suit after opponents are out. Holding AKxxx opposite Qxxx may look like just 3 winners, but it stands to make 5 winners as the cards under the AK will most probably become winners as opponents will probably run out after A, K and Q are played. Again, remember to draw trumps before playing such a suit out if playing in a trump contract.
Step 4: Trumping in Short Hand Holding 5-3 in spades (trump suit), trumping with one of the 5 does not generate an extra trick. You were already going to take 5 tricks (or however many you were supposed to get depending on which high cards you have) Only trumping in the hand with 3 trumps will generate extra tricks, provided the trump card used is not a winner
Step 5: Finessing Review Lesson 2. 2 kinds of finessing Playing towards an honour when missing the one above it, hoping the opponent in between has the missing honour E.g. leading low to the Q in AQxx Sandwiching an honour E.g. leading Q from QJxxx into Axxx
Cross-ruffing as a Possible Strategy Sometimes, it does not make sense to play out all your trumps – you may just have insufficient winners overall. Cross-ruffing can help you make full use of your trumps. Generally this is only possible with distributional hands. E.g. Dummy’s hand: Declarer’s hand: S: Txxxx S: QJxxxx H: Jxxxx H: - D: - D: Qxxxx C: AKx C: Qx Declarer opens 2S and Dummy bids up to game (4S). 2S is a pre-empt, which you will learn about eventually. Trump the hearts in declarer and the diamonds in dummy! These hands can generally make 4S even with only 15 points between them.
Note: Finessing In general, we leave finessing as a last resort. This is because it only has a 50% chance of working out while other ways of playing generally have higher chances of working out. E.g. with an 8-card fit, opponents split 3-2 about 68% of the time. i.e. holding AKQ in a 5-3 fit will give you 5 tricks 68% of the time.
Congratulations! You are now a full-fledged Bridge Beginner!