The Declarer's Plan - New Project

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After Examining the Opening Lead The Declarer Makes a Plan

Assess the Situation
  • How many tricks make my contract?
  • What are my sure tricks?
  • How many additional trucks must I generate?
  • What tactics are available to generate tricks?
  • Plan the sequence in which you will play the cards?

Declarer's Checklist of Ways to Generate Extra Tricks

  • When playing a trump contract, ruff (trump) losers in the hand with the fewest trump.
    1. You are playing a suit contract and this is your trump suit: In your hand A K Q J 10  Dummy 5 4 3 2.  If you play the five trump, you will win 5 tricks.  If you are able to ruff a suit in your hand, you will still get 5 trump tricks.  
    2. However if you are able to ruff a trick in dummy and then play the trump suit you will have gained a trump trick.
    3. Consider the following hand:  
      K           9        K          K
      9                     6          Q
      8                     5          7
      3                     3          4
      A          8         2          A
      Q         5                    J
      J          4                      10
      10                              3
    5. Your contract is four spades.  If you count sure tricks, you will count 5 spades, 4 clubs   You need at least on more trick to fulfil your contract.  You will have to eliminate loosers in hearts by ruffing them in dummy.  If you can ruff the two heart loosers in dummy you will increase your winners in the trump suit from 5 to seven.  That will give you 7 spade tricks and 4 club tricks.  You will fulfill your contract with an overtrick.  
    6. Let's say that west leads the heart king then seeing the singleton in dummy, switches to a diamond.  You play the king and East wins with the ace.  East plays another diamond which you ruff in your hand.  next you ruff a hart in dummy, return to your hand with a trump and ruff you last trump with dummy's king.  Now pull the remaining trump and play your clubs for 11 tricks.  
    7. Note that you gained two tricks by ruffing in in the hand with the fewest trump.  Observe that you ruffed one diamond in the hand with long trump.  That kept the opponents from winning a truck, but it did not increase your total trump tricks.  
  • Force out the defenders high cards in a suit to establish lower ranking high cards in your hand or dummy.
    1. For example, you hold K Q J of a suit.  Playing the king of a suit forces the opponents to play the ace or concede a trick to your king.  Once the opponents have played the ace, the queen and jack become tricks for you.
  • Deplete all the opponents cards in a suit so that small cards in that suit (in your hand or dummy) become winners.
    1. Suppose you hold A K Q 3 2 of a suit in your hand and the 4 5 6 of the same suit in dummy.  You have 8 cards in that suit and the opponents have five.  If you play the A K and Q of that suit and the opponents cards are divided 3 and 2, you will have removed all their cards in that suit.  Therefore when you lead the 3 and the 2 those cards will be winners, because the opponents cannot follow suit.

  • The finesse.  
                        Example A                                                     Example B
                         north                                        north
                   K                                                A
                   5                                                Q
       west                 east                                5
                   south                                west         east
                     4                                            south
                     2                                            8
  1. In example A, you are south as declarer.  You wish to win a trick with the king in the north hand.  If you play the king, the opponent with the ace will play it and you will win no trick.  However, if you play the 2 from the south hand, west must play before you play from the north hand.  If west has the ace, she can play it.  You will call for the 5 and your king will be established for a trick, later.  If west chooses not to play the ace you will play the king and it will win a trick.  
  2. In example B, you would like to win two tricks in the suit.  If you play the ace and then the queen, the opponent who has the king will win the second trick and you will win only one trick in that suit.  But, suppose you play 4 from the south hand.  Again, west must play before you call a card from the north hand.  If west plays a low card, you will call for the queen.  If west has the king, you will win the trick you can cash the ace for the second trick.  
  3. This type of play is called a finesse and it is common bridge play, used to generate extra tricks to help fulfill a contract.  The finesse is a 50-50 chance, so in general you will win half the finesses you try and lose the other half.  Therefore, the best declarers try to think of other more certain ways to gain tricks.  Nevertheless, when no other more likely options are available, the 50-50 chance is better than no chance at all.  
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