Saturday, February 16, 2013

The Dealer's Play of a No-Trump Hand

The dealer's play of a "no-trump" hand is both the most interesting and the most intricate part of Bridge. Very often a single error will result in the loss of three or more tricks; so that it behooves the dealer—as he has no assistance from his partner—to make himself thoroughly conversant with the strategy of the game.

The following rules cover all the important points in the dealer's play.

Keep the commanding card of your adversary's suit.

This the beginner invariably refuses to do; he is too anxious to take a trick and does not realise that he will often gain several by passing.

Before playing the commanding card of your adversaries' suit, wait—if you can—until the leader's partner has played his last card of that suit; he is then unable to return the lead, and there may be no card of re-entry in his partner's hand.

Rarely refuse to take tricks with your Kings and Queens.

When an entire suit is against you, it pays to take the lead; the adversaries may change the suit.

When you see in your hands enough tricks to win the game, always take the lead.

Always take the lead when doing so makes a card good in either of your hands.

Play for the longest suit in the two hands.

After taking the lead, count the cards of each suit in the combined hands and make it your object to play for the longest. It may sometimes be necessary, in order to lead the suit to the best advantage, to wait until it can be led from the other hand.

With two suits of equal length, play for the one in the hand that has cards of re-entry.

With two suits of equal length, play for the one that is shown on the table. Don't give your opponents unnecessary information of your strength.

With two suits of equal length, play for the one which, when established, will give you the greater number of tricks, as
7 cards in one hand and 1 in the other.
6 cards in one hand and 2 in the other.
5 cards in one hand and 3 in the other.
4 cards in one hand and 4 in the other.

Holding only seven cards of a suit, you will often find an adversary with four cards of that suit.

Holding only six cards of a suit, remember that your adversaries have seven and that leading the suit will establish it against you.

When the best card of your suit is against you, lead to get it out of your way. It pays to establish one suit. The beginner will usually play his high cards, and, after establishing one or two tricks in that suit for his adversaries, proceed to do the same with another suit and end by abusing his partner for making it "no-trump" with so weak a hand.

Lead from the weak hand to the strong.
This is the secret of playing the two hands well. Play for the longest suit in the two hands; but arrange the lead so that it comes from the hand that has no high cards.
Lead from    to
x x x  K x x x
x x x  A Q x x
x x x  K Q x x
10 x x  K J x 4

Holding a combination of Ace, Queen, Jack in the two hands, try to catch the King by leading the highest card from the one hand up to the Ace in the other.

This is really a continuation of the last rule, but its importance demands a separate heading. The correct play of this combination will win more tricks than any one other play in Bridge.

If the King is guarded, and you lead the Ace or from the Ace, the King must win; but if you lead from the other hand, there is an even chance that you will find the King on the side you wish. If it is in the other hand, it would probably make anyhow.

Avoid blocking your suit, by leading or playing the high cards from the shorter of the two hands.

As with A K x in one hand and Q x x x x x in the other, play A K x.

As with A Q x in one hand and K x x x x x in the other, play A Q x.

Keep a re-entry card in the hand that has the long suit.

If you are able to take the trick in either hand, do not take it with the hand that has the long suit, unless that suit is established. If you cannot place the lead in the hand with the long suit, it is useless to establish that suit. It is often advisable to refuse to part with the highest card of a long suit, if that card is the only re-entry for the suit.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Unblocking to Get Rid of High Cards

Unblocking is getting rid of high cards so that your partner can make smaller ones.

You seldom unblock except at "no-trump."

Study the "no-trump" leads, and on the lead of any high card prepare to get out of your partner's way.

It is rarely that you can lose more than one trick by unblocking, and a failure to take advantage of the position when it presents itself may result in the loss of three to six tricks.

With four cards of the suit of which your partner leads the A, K, or Q, keep the lowest card until the final round.

Holding On Partner's Lead of Play
K  x   A K
A  x   K A
K  x   Q K
Q  x  x K and A Q on A
K  Q  x A Q
Q  J  x A J
Q  J  x K J
K  Q  x J Q

Sunday, February 10, 2013

The Original Lead in No-Trumps

Here's what to lead in no-trump situations:

LEADHOLDING
ACEAce, Queen, Jack, and others with a Re-entry card.
Ace, with 7 or more others.
Ace, Queen, with 5 others.
Ace, Jack, with 5 others.
KINGAce, King, Queen, and others.
Ace, King, Jack, and others.
Ace, King, ten, and 3 others, with a Re-entry card.
Ace, King, and 5 or more others.
King, Queen, Jack, and others.
King, Queen, ten, and others.
King, Queen, and 5 others.
QUEENQueen, Jack, ten, and others.
Queen, Jack, nine, and others.
Ace, Queen, Jack, and others. No card of Re-entry.
JACKJack, ten, nine, and others.
TENKing, Jack, ten, and others.
4TH BESTFrom other combinations.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Opening Lead at No Trump

Unless your partner has doubled (see Heart and Weak Suit Conventions) lead from your longest suit. It is not advisable, especially when you hold no cards of re-entry, to lead aces and kings, except when you hope to catch all of the smaller cards. Two rounds may exhaust the suit in your partner's hand; and if you have no re-entry card and he has none of your suit to lead you, your long suit, even though established, is absolutely worthless.

The lead of an ace, king, or queen indicates great strength, either seven cards or three honours.

Holding two suits of equal length and strength, lead a red suit in preference to a black, especially if the make has been passed,

Holding two suits of equal length, keep for re-entry the suit with the higher cards, as,
holding— A 8 6 3 2
and
Q 9 8 6 3
if you open the Q suit
and establish it, the ace is a sure re-entry
card; if you open the ace suit the queen is a
very doubtful card of re-entry.

With a weak long suit and no re-entry card, many good bridge players open the highest card of a short suit, preferably hearts or diamonds. The theory is that, had the dealer been strong in the red suits, he would have declared a red trump; and with a worthless hand, this short suit lead may assist partner.

While there is much to be said in favour of this play, I would suggest that, unless your partner thoroughly understands the game and your play, it is safer to open your long suit.

When you are opening a long, weak suit from a hand without re-entry cards it is advisable that you convey this information to your partner. This you can do by leading the top or an intermediate card of your long suit; your partner, by applying the "Rule of Eleven," can see that you are not leading the fourth best card, and unless it is for the best interest of the two hands will not return the suit. For example:
From10 8 7 6 3,lead the8
From9 8 5 3 2,lead the9
From8 7 5 3,lead the8

Friday, February 8, 2013

Return Your Bridge Partner's Lead

If your partner has had the original lead, RETURN THEIR SUIT. There are very few "no-trump" hands where it is possible to bring in more than one suit, and if, instead of returning your partner's suit, you lead your own, you are playing for one suit and your partner for another, and as a result you will probably establish neither.

When it is evident that your suit is stronger than your partner's—i.e., if you have re-entry cards and can establish the suit in one lead—then, by all means, play for your own suit; but don't be deterred from returning your partner's lead simply because you see that the best card of his suit is against him. That card will have to make anyway, and by forcing it out of dummy at once you may enable partner to make the rest of his suit.

In returning your partner's lead, return your highest card. The importance of this is apparent: your partner can see the cards in his own and in the dummy hand, and if you return your best card he also knows what the dealer holds in that suit. It may prevent his leading up to the dealer's tenace; it may show him that the suit should be abandoned or that it should be again led from your hand. Returning the highest card minimises the risk of blocking the suit. Very often, by not getting rid of a 7, 8, 9, or 10 early in the hand, you make it impossible for your partner to make his small cards.

Don't be deceived by the dealer's play. His object is to fool you; and if he holds cards of equal value, he will probably take the trick with the highest.

Notice carefully your partner's first discard. It shows you the suit to lead and may also affect your own discard.

Don't, because the dealer leads the suit, refuse to take tricks with your aces and kings. By taking the trick, you may make a card good in your partner's hand. It is only the dealer who is in a position to know when to refuse tricks; he sees the two hands.

When there is no chance that your partner can take a trick in the suit led, it is sometimes wise to keep the commanding card until one hand cannot put the other in the lead, especially when there is no re-entry card in the hand with the long suit.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Non-Dealer's Play of a "No-Trump" Hand

With a declared trump you aim to make your high cards; but at no-trump the high cards take care of themselves and you must try to establish your small cards.

If you are the leader at "no-trump," open your longest suit. Save the high cards of your other suits for re-entry and try to establish the small cards of your long suit.

Don't lead your aces and kings to take a look at dummy; later in the hand you will need them to get the lead and bring in your established suit. The majority of "no-trump" makes are strong in three suits. Your long suits may be the weak spot in the dealer's hand.

Try to infer, from the dummy hand and your own, the high cards the dealer must hold to have declared "no-trump." You will be surprised to find how many times an inference thus drawn will enable you to play your hand to advantage.

Having started your long suit, usually the best play is to continue that suit until it becomes established, especially if you hold one or two re-entry cards.

Don't change suits unless your suit is hopelessly against you. When it requires two leads to clear your suit, and you hold no cards of re-entry, abandon it and play for your partner's suit—the suit that he has shown by his discard, or the suit which must be his, judging from your own and the dummy hand.
In leading to your partner's declared suit, always lead your highest card; this will enable him to tell what high cards are held against his suit and it will prevent your blocking his hand.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Not Leading Trumps

The exception to the trump lead is when the weaker of the two trump hands contains a short suit and can ruff; then, before leading trumps, allow the weak hand to trump your losing cards.

Unless a cross ruff can be established, it is usually bad play to weaken your strong trump hand by forcing it to ruff. If you do this, you will find it difficult to exhaust trumps from the adversaries' hands and to make any commanding suit cards you may hold.

If your adversary has doubled, be cautious about leading trumps. It is good play to lead through the doubling hand; but bad play to lead up to it.