More Card Play: Which Card to Play When?

The Next Step lesson modules have been designed to build on the Online School Curriculum. They include some Quick Tips to help you focus on the lesson topic. Then you can play and review the lesson hands.

This week involves deciding what your first and later moves need to be when declaring the hand. It’s the most important part of the plan. If you have more time to spare, click here to complete the first Card Play lesson.

Quick Tips

  • Making the correct play at trick one can often avoid problems later

  • You ARE allowed to take some time to think, so don’t let the opponents hurry you!

  • Consider where to win a trick, in your hand or dummy, and whether to win it at all

  • Most importantly, know WHY you’re winning a trick in one hand rather than the other

  • That’s usually to do with Entries to the suit you want to win tricks in

  • Ask yourself in a suit contract, is it safe to draw trumps first? or

  • Do you need to throw a loser away first on a winner in the other hand?

  • If the opponents are entitled to a trump trick, and threaten to take their winner if they gain the lead, do not draw trumps until you’ve reduced your losers

  • Your plan must vary with the new information you gain about the unseen hands, as you play to each trick

  • Try to keep an idea of who’s got what as you play (ie the shape of at least one opponent’s hand) This is hard work but worth it!


This week’s hand:

We are focusing on card play this week, so rather than giving our panel a hand to discuss bidding, they have been asked to watch this game and then explain what the next step is.
This is Hand 2 in the hands for today. Listen to the whole review when you’ve played it.

What move would you make next?

David Appleton.jpg

David Appleton

Answer: We hope they have led a fourth highest spade. Subtracting the spot (5) from eleven, there are six cards not in the leader's hand higher than the ♠5 and we have five of them. They might have the ♠7, 10 , Q, or A.

We need to get to dummy, so need to evaluate each of the three possible cards we could play in spades:
a) the ♠2 is the worst play: it guarantees they can choose not to let us cross over to dummy
b) ♠ J will work against the ♠7 or the ♠10, but fails to the others.
c) the ♠8 will work against the ♠7, Q, and A!
Why the ♠A? Well, we can throw our ♠K under the ♠A and lead up to the ♠J.

Hence, in total, trying the ♠8 is the best play as it works more often, and against more holdings than the other possible cards to select.

GeO Tislevoll.jpeg

GeO Tislevoll

Answer: You need an entry to dummy to take the diamond finesse which most likely must go well if you are going to win this contract.

The entry to North has to come from the spade suit. If the lead is 4th best, East has only one higher than the ♠5 (rule of 11). East has the ♠7, 10, Q or A. To play the ♠2 is almost a no-play as they can prevent you from an entry.
To play the ♠J will work when the lead is from ♠AQ (♠J wins).
That is two cases, East has the ♠10 or the ♠7.  But playing the ♠J goes wrong if East has the ♠Q or the ♠A.
To play the ♠8 is the best option as it will work in three cases: when East has the ♠7, Q or A.
If he has the ♠7, the ♠8 wins. If East has the ♠Q he must play it or let you win the trick with the ♠8. If he plays the ♠Q over the ♠8, you win and play another spade towards the ♠J which will give the needed entry.
If East has the ♠A and plays it over the ♠8, you must drop the ♠K under the ♠A so you later can play a spade towards the ♠J to get the needed entry to take the diamond finesse. 


Joan Butts

Summing Up:
To me the most interesting thing about David’s and GeO’s analyses, which concur, is just how much notice they take of the cards in the opponents’ hands; which specific cards are relevant, and why playing one card rather than another will produce a better result.

In this case it is the necessity to play spades so that you’ll forge a spade entry to take the diamond finesse. The contract is in big trouble if that finesse doesn’t work.

So, I’d say the moral of the story is to think about exactly which small cards are out against you.

Declarer play often has one sequence of card play being better than another, so gaining experience means being able to formulate and work out these options.

Related Workbook

My Managing the Play Workbook has more related lessons on card play. It is also a great gift for your bridge partner.

Test your knowledge

The quiz below may not work properly on some mobile devices. If you are having trouble using it, please click here to open the quiz in its own window.