Developing Tricks in Suits

Lesson Notes 

Developing Tricks in Suits

You have the three techniques for making tricks in no trumps at your disposal (promotion, length and the finesse), PLUS another two when you're playing with a trump suit. So there are five in total...

(1) Promotion
(2) Length
(3) Finesse
(4) Using the Trump Suit
(5) Discarding Losers on Winners

When you've decided to have a trump suit, this suit becomes "numero uno" and declarer's decisions are affected because there's more to think about. When you make your plan, count both winners and losers. If you see only the losers you can afford, (e.g. in 4♥ you can see only three losers), play so that more losers do not materialise, i.e. draw trumps early and take your other tricks. 

But if there are too many losers (say they make a good lead), you will need to develop a side suit by trumping it or discarding losers on winners before you draw trumps. Missing the trump A and K often means you need to reduce losers before you lose to these top trumps. 

Make the drawing of trumps a priority except at the following times: 
(1) You need trumps to trump losers in dummy
(2) You need to use trumps as entries to develop extra tricks. 
(3) You need to use the trump suit before you lose the lead (you're missing the A &/or K), when the defenders could take enough tricks to beat you.
(4) You need trumps to stop the defenders from taking too many tricks in a side suit.
(5) You need to use your trumps separately to make your contract

Using the Trump Suit
In suit contracts, trumping losers with dummy's trumps will often give you extra tricks. Having shortages in dummy allows this to happen. Sometimes you should delay drawing trumps and do your trumping first. e.g. here you reach 4♥ and need to find the tenth trick. 
Dummy                      Declarer
♠ 75                            ♠ 432
♥ 542                          ♥ AKQJ97
♦A43                           ♦ K52
♣A6532                       ♣ 4

You have nine tricks there (six hearts, two diamonds and one club), and your tenth will come from trumping a spade in dummy. 

 When you have seven or more cards in a side suit, the potential for making extra tricks increases. Trumping some cards in this suit will often turn the long cards into winners eventually.
Dummy                      Declarer
♠ 75                            ♠ 43
♥ K42                          ♥ AQJ975
♦ AK432                      ♦ 86
♣A65                           ♣ 743
Here you reach 4♥ and on the ♣K lead, have four losers, two in clubs and two in spades. You need to play on the diamond suit hoping that it breaks 3-3 to allow you to discard a losing club or spade when your long diamonds are winners.   

Discarding Losers on Winners
For this to work you need a suit with a different number of cards between declarer and dummy. You also need winners to take care of losers in the other suit (e.g. ♠AK54 opposite ♠Q3).  If a card is a winner and you have none of that suit in partner’s hand, you don’t need to trump it, you can throw away a loser in the other hand instead.

To Draw or Not to Draw
In general, you want to draw the opponents’ trumps as soon as possible. However, if you have quick losers and will lose the lead when you draw trumps, dispose of your extra losers first. If you're able to draw trumps without giving up the lead, do it first.

When you’ve made your plan, which may need to be changed as you discover more about the hand, you also have to remember to check for entries to allow you to reach the suit you’ve been working on. 


Resources

Want more information? These books will help you learn about playing the hands as declarer. 

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