1. Count your losers. If a 5-3 or 6-2 fit count losers in the longer trump hand only. If too many losers, can you?
2. Count winners - are there enough outright winners? Do you need to watch your entries?
3. Distinguish between different types of losers:
Plan accordingly as the order you take action is important
4. Decide which suits to attack and in which order
A) If you have enough natural winners to make the contract:
B) You do not have enough natural winners
5. After you have made use of trumps, attack your longest side suit, count cards until you have only winners left
6. Use shorter suits with top tricks as entries, if not needed cash these last
PLAN 1 (RUFF)
If you can play trumps first before you set up a ruff do BUT in some cases you cannot e.g. if trumps are unevenly divided (5-3, 6-2, 5-4).
Every ruff in the short hand is an extra trick so do not play trumps too early if the short hands trumps are needed for ruffing (ie ruff first).
When you want to ruff a loser in the short hand set it up first, before defenders can remove dummy’s trumps.
Make sure you have enough entries back into the hand from which you want to ruff from
If 4-3 in a side suit and you need to ruff the last card you may need to lose the lead up to 3 times and will need one more trump in the short hand than the number of times you have to lose the lead.
If 4-4 in trumps once you have cleared trumps - can you use the extra trumps to ruff?
Maintain entries to the hand with the extra card for this to work (ruff in hand with less trumps).
Crossruff can give you extra entries to make extra tricks. Best done if you hold all the higher trumps.
If you have winners in a different side suit. Cache these first.
PLAN 2 (EXTRA TRICK)
Can you set up an extra trick by ruffing out dummy’s long suit? Must have enough entries to set up the suit and cash the winners once established.
If you have too many fast losers can you cache an established suit quickly to throw off a loser? Before you do this you may need to make as many clearance plays as you can in trumps without giving up the lead.
You also need to have an entry to the hand with the long suit (usually dummy).
Sometimes it is better to discard a loser on a losing trick if the opposition is forced to use a trump to win
Playing a long uneven off suit - cache high cards but first chance start ruffing. Hold onto rest of high cards until opponents are out of trumps.
Plan 2 depends on having entries to get back into dummy and that it is not unusual to refrain from drawing all of opponents trumps.
DUCKING A LEAD
Allows you to cut communication between opposing players BUT only do so if you know where the cards are (know opponent’s agreements with leads and discards)
RUFF & SLUFF
You need an extra trick and best chances is a finesse in a unplayed suit but not certain which way to finesse. So to set this up:
That way opponents have a choice of leading the suit or leading a suit that you are out of so that you can ruff in one hand and throw off in the other.
Also called strip & end-play.
Use this when you have:
Finesse - only use if it is the only way to make your tricks.
Note: Only lead a high card for a finesse when you have a sequence of honour cards and don't mind if the opponent's cover the honour.
Without a sequence of honour cards, don't lead an honour card for a finesse... Lead low towards the honour you hope to make.
PLAN 1 & 2 TOGETHER
You have decided to set up an extra trick in a long suit (to throw off a loser) by:
To do this you need:
Clear trumps first or use trumps as entries if you can
Leave one small trump out while cashing out a side suit that may contain a possible loser. Thus allows you to trump the loser (or discard if not needed)
A suit of Qxx opposite Jxx will always give you a trick if lead by opponents - so can you use a strip and end play?
COMBINE DUCK & CLEARANCE PLAY
Use when have a 4-4 (or 5-3) trump fit of low quality headed by Ace. By ducking first then taking second trick with Ace you limit trump clearance to 2 rounds and so still have a trump in dummy.
When you ruff so many times on the long hand the long hand becomes shorter than the short hand. This requires dummy to draw trumps so:
NOTE it is better to ruff high so do not get overruffed
Don’t try to cross ruff with sure winners in another suit.
If you want to ruff with winners in the suit you are ruffing in, ruff first if you can.
1 Count your winners as soon as dummy goes down
2. Not enough top winners? You can:
3. Decide the suit that offers most potential tricks and lead it first
4. Cash winners in the short suit last
NOTE: Be cautious leading the suit the opponents chose as opening lead.
When declarer in a NT contract, you can determine how many tricks to duck by subtracting the number of cards that you and your dummy hold in the suit led from 7. Then duck that many times.
Hence if spades are led and you have a total of six spades between both hands, subtract that from 7-6 = 1 so hold up only one round and take the second spade trick.
On the other hand, if you have five spades between you, hold up twice and take the third trick, etc.
High to encourage, low to discourage
Low I like, high I don’t like