This was the bidding:

S       W       N       E

P       1S       P       1NT

P       2H      P        4S

You are North and lead the 10 of Diamonds from this hand:

S  K4

H  K862

D 10973

C  J85

Down comes the dummy:

S Q107

H J4

D AJ52

C K103

After a long look and a lukewarm “Thank you, partner”, declarer asks for the Ace of Diamonds from dummy. Your partner (South) plays the 8 of diamonds and declarer follows with the 4.

OK – given the information so far, what can you tell about the cards you can’t see? How many points should declarer have? How many points should your partner have? Further, can you suggest what high cards each is most likely to have?


  1. There are 22 points you can’t see.
  2. Declarer did not open 1NT or reverse his hand.
  3. Partner and declarer have only one Jack and one King between them.
  4. Partner seemed to like the opening lead.
  5. Declarer did not play a low Diamond from dummy on the opening lead.

Answers below – don’t peek until you’ve decided what high cards Partner and Declarer have.



Remember, these are only your best assumptions after Trick 1:


Declarer probably has 13 or 14 points – although it could be as low as 12 or even as high as 16. If he had 15 points he might have opened 1NT, unless he had a singleton. That would leave your partner with 7 to 9 points.


Your partner’s play of the 8 of Diamonds on the opening lead implies that he has the King of Diamonds.


The fact that declarer played the Ace of Diamonds from dummy and then the 4 from his hand suggests he does not have the Queen of Diamonds. With the Q4 of Diamonds in his hand, declarer would usually play small from dummy. So – let’s put both the King and Queen of Diamonds in your partner’s hand.


Your partner could have up to 4 more points to go with his KQ of Diamonds. It would make sense from the bidding for declarer to have the AJ of Spades and the AQ of Hearts – which would mean that your partner has either the Ace of Clubs (9 points in total) or the Queen of Clubs (7 points in total). Again - these are only assumptions. Every trick played will help to confirm or disprove them.


You should always assume that the contract can be defeated until evidence suggests otherwise. Therefore, place your Partner with the Ace of Clubs, leaving Declarer with S - AJxxx, H – AQxx, D - xx and C - Qx. If this is Declarer’s hand, the contract can be set.


Repeat this exercise every deal: Listen to the bidding. Add the points in your hand and Dummy. Now try to place the rest of the high cards in partner’s and declarer’s hands. You will be amazed how much it will improve your play.


Bonus question:


Declarer loses the trump finesse to your King of Spades at Trick 2. What specific card do you return? E-mail me at dpcattani@shaw.ca with your answer.