- 24 -
PLAY OF THE HAND IN SUIT CONTRACTS
You are declarer at a Suit contract. The opening lead has been made and your partner has put down the dummy hand. What should you as declarer do before even making a single play?
1. Take Note of the Opening Lead: ‑ Declarer should memorize both the suit and numerical number of the suit led. The opening leader has taken the time for his/her choice and so, just perhaps, it may have some meaningful significance as to the play of the hand to declarer as well as to the partner of the lead. It may for example be:
a. the lead of a singleton, defender attempting to set up a ruff.
b. the start of a doubleton high‑low signal.
c. low from an honor.
d. the top of a sequence.
e. the start of a middle-up-down triplet.
f. forth best from a long suit.
Declarer has a right to ask the partner of the opening leader as to what significance can be inferred from the lead and what are their agreed‑upon understandings as to its implied meaning.
2. Do Not Make a Single Play Until You Have First Counted Your Losing Tricks: ‑ One must first formulate some plan as to how to eliminate the losing tricks through one of the following methods:
a. Trump them in dummy ‑ if dummy is shorter in that suit than is declarer
b. Throw them away ‑ if an outside long suit can be developed where losers can be discarded
c. Finesse them away ‑ by hoping for a favorable location of the opponent's cards which will
convert declarer’s losers into winners.
Example: (The contract is 4S) Your Hand Dummy
Spades - AKQXX JlOXX
Hearts - JXX X
Diamonds - X AKXX
Clubs ‑ KXXX XXXX
The six of Diamonds is led. You count the losers: none in Spades, three in Hearts, none in Diamonds, and four in Clubs. That makes seven losers in all, and you can only afford to lose only three of them if you are to make the contract. In other words, at least four of the probable losers must be converted into winning tricks. Dummy has only a singleton Heart, so two of the Heart losers can be trumped in dummy. There go two of the losers. After dummy's King wins the first Diamond trick, declarer has no more Diamonds and can therefore discard one of the losing Clubs on the Ace of Diamonds. A forth loser may possibly by converted into a winner by leading a Club from the dummy towards the King for a finesse.
So, your plan is formed. Win the first trick with the King of Diamonds in the dummy and lead the singleton Heart so that the losing Hearts can be trumped before trumps are drawn. The opponents will obviously win the first Heart and return a trump so as to reduce the ruffing power of dummy. Win the trump trick in your hand and then trump a Heart in dummy. Return to declarer's hand with a second round of trumps and than trump another round of Hearts. Then play the Ace of Diamonds, discarding a small Club from your hand. At last play a small Club from dummy towards your King. If the Ace is to the right of declarer, the contract will be made.