Alsager Bridge Club
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Bridge Playing Practice
Declarer Play (week commencing 15/07/14) No Trump Play

You are South in 3NT. West leads 5D and East plays QD. Prepare a plan for making the contract (e.g. count the sure winners, say where you think is the best suit(s) to develop extra winners and make a plan - e.g. what do you play on the opening lead and what do you play when you next get the lead).

You have 7 sure winners. West leads 5D and East rises with the QD. You must take the opening lead with the AD and then go over to dummy and finesse a heart. If the finesse fails, West can lead a diamond but the JD will then be a stopper whatever West does and you will have developed enough heart winners to make your contract.

If you hold up on the diamonds, East will lead a second diamond and trap your JD. West can clear the diamonds and put the contract in jeopardy by winning 4 diamond tricks and 1 heart .

This is one of those rare occasions where keeping the dangerous opponent (East) off lead is more important than the hold up play.

Declarer Play (Discarding a Loser on a Loser)

South is in 4S. West leads the KC,
West overtakes with the AC and leads
back the 6C taken by West who leads
a 3rd club. How do you play the hand
to give you a certain chance of success.

You count your losers / potential losers. You have two definite losers in Clubs and a potential loser in Diamonds - looks easy to make the game. But since you are the type of player who asks "Why did the opponents do that?", you're alarmed when East overtakes his partner's King of Clubs with the Ace of Clubs and leads a low club back, because it screams out that East has only a doubleton club. When West, reading his partner's clever signal, dutifully leads a third club, you are suddenly faced with the prospect of an additional loser because east might be able to over-ruff if you ruff the club in dummy. So what should you do?

The answer is not to ruff in dummy. Instead you should throw a small diamond from dummy. The opponents will win this trick, but you have now got rid one of your potential losers and you lose only lose 3 tricks and make your contract. This is called a loser on loser play. If you ruff the third trick in dummy, East has the Jack of trumps and can over-ruff to take the trick. You're then reliant on the diamond finesse working and it doesn't because the QD is with East. You'd lose 2 club tricks, 1 diamond trick and the club ruff and the contract would go 1 down.

NT Play

West leads the 5 of spades. What is the best chance for South to make 3NT?

As soon as declarer wins the openinng trick with KS, he must
keep attacking the diamonds unitl he has removed the Ace and 
King of diamonds from the opponents' hands. He will then
make the remaining 3 diamonds in Dummy + 3 spade tricks +
2 club winners + the Ace of hearts = 9 tricks

NT Play

West leads the 5 of Spades. What's the best way for declarer to make 3 No Trumps?

Take the opening lead in hand (the KS in dummy is needed later as an
entry). Lead out the winning clubs. Lead the AH and then the JH. Finally cross
to dummy to the KS and lead the winning QH which is your 9th trick. Don't go
across to dummy and finesse the hearts. The heart finesse loses and you
won't be able to get back to dummy to make the winning QH.

Declarer Play - Identify the dangerous opponent

There are times when you are in a position where one of the Defenders can do harm if he gets the lead, while the other Defender cannot. You are South in 4H.


1. Who is the dangerous defender - East or West?

2 West's opening lead is the QS and East plays low. Does South put up the AS?

East is the dangerous opponent. If East gets the lead and leads a diamond, you might well lose both diamonds if West has the AD. West cannot attack your weakness. If West leads diamonds, it allows you to make the KD on either the first or second round, depending when the opponents play their AD.

If West is winning the trick by the time the time the opening lead comes round to him, declarer should duck and let West win it and the non-dangerous opponent is left on lead. When the second round of spades id led, declarer can win with the AS and trump spades thereafter. If declarer takes the AS on the first round, it's possible that East might win the trick the next time spades are led. He may then lead a diamond and the fear you had of losing two diamonds might be realised.

Declarer Play (Week commencing 25/03) End Play

South is in 4S. The lead is the 2H. How does South give himself the best chance of making the contract using an end play rather than having to rely on a dodgy club finesse.

Solution: When East goes up with KH, South should duck (It's important to keep West off lead. Let East win the trick because he can't lead anything to hurt declaer, but, if West gets in, he can lead a club and you're forced in to making a finesse that might not work. The idea of the end play is to try to force / encourage East to lead the clubs and thus give South a free finesse). East leads a heart back, which declarer takes with AH in hand. Declarer now leads a low diamond and, if West plays low (as he should), plays the JD in dummy, so that again East (the non dangerous opponent) will take the trick. East returns another diamond, which declarer takes in dummy with AD. Declarer now leads a low trump from dummy and takes in hand with the AS. Declarer leads a third heart from hand and trumps high in dummy and leads a low trump from dummy to the QS in hand. Declarer has now taken out the trumps (note that declarer has to use trumps to keep returning to hand to execute his plan of keeping West off lead).

Declarer has now taken the opponents trumps out. He's also stripped hand and dummy of diamonds and has stripped dummy of hearts. He has only lost 2 tricks in the process. He now leads the last remaining heart from his hand and discards a low club (which is a loser anyway) thus allowing East to win the trick with the KH. Declarer has already performed the "strip" part of the end play and this is now the "throw in" part of the end play. East is now well and truly end played. He has no trumps to lead, he has no more hearts to lead. If he leads a diamond, declarer will trump it in hand and discard the QC from dummy (ruff and discard). If East leads a club, then he gives declarer a free finesse. Contract made.

You have successfully forced East to make a lead which is beneficial to you in that, whatever he leads, it will allow you to make a contract which would have gone down if South had tried to do the club finesse by leading a low club from hand and finessing the QC.

 Important Note:

In the previous two end play examples in U3A Homework (04/03 and 18/03), the end play has a 100% chance of success. In this example it relies on East winning the last heart lead that declarer makes from hand. If West has the winning heart when you do the throw in, then the end play doesn't work because West will undoubtedly lead a club - you still have the option of finessing the club, which though, as you can see, will fail. So the end play in this case doesn't guarantee success (it's a 50 - 50 chance), but it's a 50 - 50 chance on top of the 50 - 50 chance you get with the finesse, making it a 75% chance overll that you'll make the contract if you do an end play, as opposed to only a 50% chance if you rely solely on the finesse.

Declarer Play (Week commencing 18/03) End Play

How does South make 4S? West leads QH.

Assuming there are no helpful leads from the opponents til you get to the end pay, take the heart lead and lead a heart to strip the hearts from both your hands. Clear the trump suit so that opps are out of trumps. West leads a club when in with the AS and you take it with the AC. Clear the rest of the trumps (if not already cleared) and then play the KC. Next you play your last (low) club and East takes it, but is end played. If he leads a club back, you have no clubs left in either hand, so can discard a losing diamond and trump the club lead in your other hand. Same ruff nd discard situation if East leads a heart. If he leads a diamond, he gives you a free finesse. He's well and truly end played.

Declarer Play (week commencing 04/03) End Play

South is in 6S. West leads the 2H. Declarer wins and leads trumps
to find that they don't split, so there's now a trump loser and
potential diamond loser. Is there any way that declarer can
make the contract wthout having to guess where the QD is? .

South takes the heart lead and notices that he has a potential trump and diamond loser. He leads AS and KS to discover the bad news that west has 3 trumps - so definitely a spade loser. He now takes two club winners and trumps his third club. He takes his remianing two heart winners. He has now stripped his hand of hearts and clubs. He now puts in west with the QS and west is end played. If west leads his last heart, South discards his losing diamond and trumps in the other hand. If west leads a diamond, then he gives south a free finesse. 12 tricks made without the need to try the diamond finesse.

Declarer Play (week commencing 18/02) Discarding on long suits

West leads 3H. How do you make your 6S contract?

This is an easier example of discarding your losers on a long suit (clubs in this case). You must not be tempted into taking the diamond finesse (it's not necesary to take this risk). You lose the heart lead to the AH and then take the return lead, no matter what it is. Lead AS and if both opps follow, lead KS. Then lead AC (very important in order to unblock the club suit). Lead a low spade to the QS and run the clubs discarding your 2 losing diamonds and 1 losing heart.

Delarer Play (week commencing 04/02) Discarding on long suits

This is a more complicated problem following the current theme of combining discarding losers on long suits and ruffing. You are declarer in 6S. West has opened a weak 2D (5-9pts). West leads the JC. How do you plan the play to ensure that you make your contract? Clue: Where do you think the AD is?

It looks as though you have a heart and diamond loser, but appearances can be deceptive. Win the club lead, draw trumps noticing they split 1-3 and then lead 5D from hand. If West has AD (very likely from the bidding), he can do nothing to prevent you making your contract. If he rises with the AD, you have 12 tricks via five spades, two hearts, two diamonds and three clubs; while if he ducks, you win with the queen in dummy and discard your KD on the third club, thus eliminating your diamond loser. Ultimately, you'll be able to ruff a heart in dummy and then you make 12 tricks via five spades, two hearts and one heart ruff, one diamond and three clubs.


South bids 3S and North raises to 4S. What should West lead and then
what should West lead when he / she is on lead again?

Lead QD. It's a safer lead than the alternatives and doesn't give
anything away. When West is back in with the lead, he / she should
continue to lead diamonds. Even though South is ruffing them, it
loses nothing.


South bids 1NT. North responds 2C. South bids 2S and
North bids 4S. West leads 9H and East wins with AH.
What does East now lead?

The defence has a chance of a club ruff. Lead 7C. West takes
with the AC and leads 3C (low club to indicate he wants a low
order suit led back). East ruffs and leads a diamond back.


South bids 1S and North responds 2C. South bids 2D and North bids 4S.

West leads JH. What does East do and why?

From the East hand, it looks like the trumps are breaking badly (West probably has 4 and it looks like West has good hearts. The best defence is to force declarer declarer to ruff in his hand in order to reduce the number of trumps he has and hopefully he will lose control of the trump suit. East should win with the AH, lead QH and then lead 5H. When declarer ruffs, he now has the same number of hearts as West and this causes declarer a problem at the end. In any case, you never lose anything by forcing declarer to ruff in his long trump hand, but it is generally wrong to let declarer ruff in his short trump hand.


You have the unusual benefit of seeing all 4 hands
South bids 1S, North bids 2D, South bids 2S, North bids 3S and
South bids 4S.
West leads the JH which East Wins with AH.
What does East lead now?

East should lead 4S. West will win will both AS and QS and then lead 3S. North now has no spades left and declarer won't be able to trumo his losing clubs in the short trump hand and will go at least 1 down. When you suspect that declarer might want to trump losers in the short trump hand, lead a trump.

Defence Play

South is in 3NT and West lead JD. South takes it with the AD and leads 
a low club to dummy's strong clubs. What card does West play and what
card does East play (and why)? When West wins. what does he lead?

West plays high (KC) and East plays the 7C. The idea is to stop declarer establishing North's clubs. East plays the 7C so that he can play high - low in clubs and show West, his partner, that he has a doubleton. This tells West how many clubs declarer has and allows West to know that he must hold his remaining high club until the third round when South's clubs will be exhausted. When West gets in with KC, he must lead high heart(s) to get rid of North's AH and thus destroy the important entry in North's hand, so that South can't later enter the North hand via clubs or hearts to enjoy North's established club winners.

Declarer Play (Life on the London Embankment)

This is an exercise involving leading trumps.

1. As south, you are declarer in 3 Spades and
    a small club is led. How do you play the hand?
2. As south, you are declarer in 4 Diamonds and
    a small club is led. How do you play the hand?

Assume in both cases that trumps are eveny split

As always, count your winners and losers before you start.

1. You have to hope that the trumps are split  4 - 3. You expect to win 4 trump tricks (allowing for 1 loser); 3 diamonds and two clubs. However, when you are developing your long suit (diamonds) to make 3 winning diamond tricks, you don't want either of the defenders to trump in with a low losing trump. So, draw 3 rounds of trumps immediately and then develop the diamonds.

2. When you count the losers, you can see 2 trumps, 1 heart and probably 1 spade. That's one more loser than you can afford. Of course, you get rid of a loser by ruffing a small spade in dummy, but it must be done immediately, otherwise the opponents can clear dummy's diamond trumps and you won'tbe able to do the spade ruff to get rid of one of your 4 losers

DRAW trumps when you fear that opponents may ruff winners in your side suits.

DON'T DRAW trumps prematurely when you need to ruff losers in dummy

Declarer Play (Week Commencing 22/02/16) Cross Ruffing

You are South in a 4S contract. West leads 4H

When you have cross-ruffing possibilities in hand and dummy, it's important to count Winners during your plan of the play. You have on two definite winners outside trumps (AH and AD) and so you need to win 8 trumps in order to make your contract and you can only do this by ruffing tricks. In cross ruffs it is always advisable to make your winners outside trumps before you start the cross-ruff

Defence Play (week commencing 19/08/14)

South is in 3NT and West lead QD. South takes it with the AD
and leads  a low club to dummy's strong clubs. What card
does West play and what card does East play (and why)?

Declarer Play (week commencing 29/07/14) No Trump Play

South is in 3NT. West leads 6 of spades. Count your sure winners etc. In order to make the contract you must knock out the Ace of clubs and diamonds, but that gives West the chance to get in and run 3 spades which defeats the contract. How would you play the contract  to give yourself a chance of making it?

Declarer Play (week commencing 28/01) Cross Ruffing

West leads 4H. How does South make 6S?

Clue: In a cross ruff situation, it's important to count your winners rather than losers and then look for where your extra tricks are coming from if you don't have enough winners for yiur contract.

Declarer Play (Week commencing 21/01) Discarding on long suits

How does South make 4S? West leads QH

Declarer Play - Discarding on "Long" Suits

In this problem, the "long" suit is the club suit in dummy, because, once you've driven out opponents' AC, you can discard  a losing heart in hand on the boss club and then ruff a heart. Thus you'll have created a ruffing position where none originally existed. However, you must establish the club suit straight away before playing trumps. If you play a single trump before establishing the club suit, you'll go down because the opponens will attack and expose your heart suit before you've had the chance to throw your losing heart away.