†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† ††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††INTERMEDIATE BRIDGE COURSE†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††





†††† Third Hand Play:An old adage does exist which advocates the use of third hand playing high.Ingeneral, however, there are too many exceptions to enable one to develop a specific set of rules for third hand play, nor is it always appropriate to follow this narrow course of third hand always playing high.Rather than to memorize and exclusively use this old axiom, one should alternatively utilize information gleaned from partnerís lead, dummyís hand, possible layout of the suit in question, the contract; etc., in order to better determine the actions of partner in third position relative to partnerís opening lead. Third hand play is extremely important for, in simplistic terms, it is the last card your side will play to the trick, and it can, therefore, have profound significance.


††††††††† 1. Third hand high:†† In each of the following layouts, your partner has led the 5 and the 3 is††

††††††††††††† played from the dummy.†† Which card must be played by the third hand in order to ensure the††††

††††††††††††† maximum number of tricks to which the defenderís are entitled?


††††††††††††††††† 73††††††††††††††††††††† 983††††††††††††††††††††† A83

†††††††††††††††††††† KJ652†††††† A84†††††††† Q1065††††††† K72††††††††† Q975 ††††††††††††K106

†††††††††††††††† Q109††††††† †††††††††††††AJ4††††††††††††††††††††† J42


††††††††† Conclusion:Usually speaking, under most circumstances, the third hand defender is most†††††

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† effective when contributing the highest card available when trying to

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† maximize the number of tricks taken by the defenders.


2.      Only as High as is Necessary:Playing the highest card available in Third Hand Play is not

††††† always the best play.Keep in mind the objective which must remain to promote cards in

††††† partnerís hand by playing only the highest card necessary to do the job.In the following card

††††† layouts, partner again leads the 5 followed by the 3 from dummy.†† What card would you play

††††† and what inferences might partner deduce from your play?


††††††††††††††† A93†††††††††††††††††† J83†††††††††††††††††† A63

†††††††††††† 5†††††† QJ10††††††††† 5†††††† KQ10†††††††† 5†††††††† KJ10


††††††††††††††† Conclusion:Third hand should, under all conditions, play only as high as is necessary,

†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† playing the lower of touching cards when there is a choice to do so.Before

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† deciding how high is necessary, however, the defender must look at both

†††† †††††††††††††††††††††††††††††partnerís lead as well as the cards of the dummy.


3.      Trapping High Cards:†† When deciding how high a card to play, third hand must try to

†††††††††††††††† visualize the entire layout of the suit.Not being able to see either partnerís hand or declarerís,

†††††††††††††††† it is often helpful to consider the bidding and the logic of the situation.†† Remember, the†††††††

†††††††††††††††† general idea is to try to keep dummyís high cards trapped whenever possible.†† In each of the

†††††††††††††††† following layouts, which card must you play in third seat in order to enable your side tot

†††††††††††††††† eventually take the maximum number of tricks in the suit shown.


††††††††††††††††† Q73†††††††††††††††††† J83††††††††††††††††††††† K3

††††††††††† K965†††††† AJ4†††††††††††††† Q765††††††† K102††††††† J9754††††† A106

††††††††††††††††† 1082††††††††††††††††† A94††††††††††††††††††††† Q82


†††††††††††† Conclusion:When partner leads a low card, he/she is probably leading from an honor.††

††††††††††††††††††††††† Try to visualize partnerís holding and, whenever possible, keep dummyís high cards

†††††††††††††††††††††††† trapped

- 26 - †††††


4.      When Partner Leads a High Card:†† So far we have addressed the situation where partner has led a low card which usually necessitates third hand playing high.†† When Partner leads a high card, however, third hand may not need to play high, especially when there is an honor

††††† needing to be trapped in dummy.†† In each of the following examples, partner has led the Jack

††††† and dummy has put in the 4.†† How should the defenders play the suit such that all the tricks to

††††† which they are entitled are secured?


†††††††††† K74†††††††††††††††††††† Q84††††††††††††††††††††† 754

††† J1085†††††† AQ6†††††††††††††††† J1095††††††† A63††††††††† KJ109†††††† A63

†††††††††††††††† 932†††††††††††††††††††† K72††††††††††††††††††††† Q82


†††††††††††††††††††††††† Conclusion:When partner leads a high card, you may be capable of trapping a high card

†††††††††††††††††††††††† in the dummy by playing a low card rather than third hand high.†† On the other hand, if

†††††††††††††††††††††††† there are only small cards in the dummy, you may have to overtake partnerís high card if

††††††††††††††††††† †††††there be an opportunity of potentially trapping a high card in declarerís hand.


5.      Unblocking:†† There are times when it is appropriate for third hand to play high even though it might, at first glance, seem unnecessary.†† One of these conditions is when the suit would

††††† otherwise block; i.e., one would not be able to lead the suit back for partner to take his/her

††††† winners.In the following examples partner has led the underlined card with dummy†††

††††† following as indicated.†† Assuming partner to have no other outside entries except for the suit††

††††† shown, which card must third hand play in order for the defenders to maximize their tricks?


††††††††††††††††††††† 942††††††††††††† A92††††††††††††† A83†††††††††††††† A94

††††† KQJ75††† A3†††† QJ1063††† K4†††† J10965††† KQ2†††† Q10752††† K3

†††††††††† 1086†††††††††††† 875†††††††††††††† 74††††††††††††††† J86


†††††† Conclusion:In order to avoid stranding partnerís winners, third hand must sometimes

†††††††††††† play a high card, even though it is not needed to win the trick.†† The goal must rather be to

†††††††††††† maintain a small card with which to lead the same suit back to partner.


6.      Putting it all Together:†† Partner has led the indicated card.†† Which card should third hand

†††† play so as to maximize the defenderís trick-taking capacity, and why?


††† 1083†††††††† A83††††††††† AQ3†††††††† Q83††††††††† K3†††††††† 843

†† 4††† KJ5†††† 6†† QJ2†††† 10†† KJ4 †††4†† KJ10†††† 2AJ4†††† Q††† K7



CONCLUSION:†† The general guideline dictates that third hand usually plays high.†† Before automatically contributing your highest card, however, take a look at both the specific card which partner has led as well as the cards visible in the dummy.†† One must play a card that is no higher than is necessary while, at the same time, attempting to entrap any high card in the dummyís hand.At the same time, one must guard against blocking the suit by being left with the highest card in the suit when partner is waiting to take his/her remaining winners.











†††† - 27 -