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Tips in Tables

Note that these tips are called TIPS, not rules.  In bridge, many recommendations are considered rules, when in reality, they are guidelines or rules of thumb, be they bidding conventions or card play observations.

6/9/08.  If searching for a particular Tip, simultaneously press Ctrl-F, then enter identifying text in the Find: box that comes up.
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Recent
~  Usually when the opponents are bidding on distribution, the best opening lead is a trump


General
~  Bridge is a game of mental energy.  Trying to learn lots of conventions all at once may give you too much to think about, wear you out mentally, and degrade your performance
~  Experience teaches you what is pertinent on a hand and what to ignore.  When you learn to focus on the truly key points and stop spending mental energy on irrelevancies, your game will improve
~  A good bidding system doesn’t result from cobbling together a bunch of inconsistent/overlapping conventions.  You need a comprehensive system with conventions that complement one another
~  Do not let an occasional bad board or poor session detract from your concentration or overall enjoyment of the game.  The bad boards you have recorded are history.  Letting them upset you will only serve to add to the list.
~  Although Billy Welu was talking about delivery & release of a bowling ball when he said, “Trust is a must, or your game is a bust,” he could have been talking about bridge partners
~  There are no re-deals in duplicate bridge.  If you pass out a hand, score it & move on to the next board.  Doesn’t matter if it’s in the 1st round, do NOT re-deal.  In scoring the board, please put zero (0) in the N-S & E-W columns to aid the director’s data entry.  (Bridgemates have a green-lettered PASS key.)
~  The bidding box Stop card is analogous to a verbal call of Skip Bid.  Please Wait.  You wait about 10 seconds before calling.  It’s immaterial when the Stop card is put away.
~  Note that these tips are called tips, not rules.  In bridge, many recommendations are labeled rules, when in reality, they are guidelines or rules of thumb, be they bidding conventions or card play observations
~  The trouble with playing bridge too quickly is that, by the time you realize you’ve made an error, it is often too late to recover.  Playing on autopilot is not the path to your best game.
~  To maximize the time opening leader and declarer have to make and respond to the opening thrust, opening leader should concentrate on & make the opening lead.  Only then, while declarer is studying the lead & dummy, should opening leader write down the contract.  As opening leader, take the time you need for the blind opening lead, but do it before you write down the contract.
~  Counting may be painful, but it needs to become 2nd nature
~  If you count only one thing, make it high card points.  They will often tell you who has what.  Obviously, start with your own before you bid.  Next, listen to the bidding for clues.  Third, but by no means last, immediately count dummy’s points.
~  If you count only one thing at the bridge table, make it high card points, especially when on defense, or as declarer after an opponent has revealed an opening hand by opening the bidding
~  There is no excuse for not counting each hand; try it with 2 suits—the suit led and the trump suit.  When you can up it to 3 suits, you automatically have a count on the 4th!  And shame on the impertinent defender that leads a trump.  Doesn’t she know you need to get a count on the hand, and that you’ll lead a trump when it’s appropriate?
~  To elevate your game to another level, observe & remember spot cards
~  The value of high cards goes up or down depending upon the position & distribution of surrounding cards.  You should make appropriate adjustments if the bidding reveals the likely location of these cards.
~  Be aggressive in the early stages of the auction.  Bidding has a way of getting out of hand.  Waiting in the bushes is for hunters, not bridge players
~  Be aggressive in the bidding with fitting hands; be conservative with non-fitting hands
~  In general, five-card suits headed by 100 honors should be treated as six-card suits
~  A cornerstone of bidding is: if game (/slam) is still possible, keep the auction open; if not, stop as quickly as possible in as sensible a contract as possible
~  High cards in short suits—too bad, especially Queens & Jacks—time to devalue.  High cards in long suits—yes, that’s the way we like it.
~  Thinking of bidding higher in a competitive auction with fewer trumps than the Law of Total Tricks calls for?  If so, you need extras elsewhere, namely decent trumps, a side singleton or void, quality points, and no slow trick(s) in the opponents’ suit(s)
~  Generally speaking, do not compete for a part-score at the 4-level
~  The person who is short in the opponent’s suit is the one who should strive to take action in the auction
~  After your side has opened/entered the bidding and opponents preempt, you may bid 1 level higher than you would have without the preempt
~  Experienced matchpoint players covet plus scores and know they don’t have to bid every close game.  Often, winning the contract and making game-level tricks brings in a good result
~  In the history of bridge no one has ever:
    Been vulnerable on Board 1,
    Had a 2-way finesse for a King
~  When everything looks straightforward, consider what bad developments might occur
~  When there are two choices—duck or win—consider them both.  When you can play either high or low, analyze both
~  Once you have made an assumption about the location of an important honor, that assumption may help you to place another important honor (or honors)
~  When no legitimate chance is apparent, resort to a little trickery
~  One way to unblock a suit is to discard the blocking card(s)
~  Red on red, black on black—especially at the end of the night when everyone is nodding off
~  When the opponents (including dummy) must win a trick in a suit, it often pays to give it to them as quickly as possible
~  If the previous play has marked you with a particular card or cards and you have a chance to make several discards, try to discard the cards you are known to hold
~  When a lead marks you with a specific card or cards, play those cards as quickly as possible, providing it does not cost you a trick
~  When the opponents preempt, take a look at the vulnerability. If you are vulnerable and they are not, subtract one card from the normal expected length
~  A good rule of thumb is to assume that any defense supplied by a preempting partner is a bonus
~  At IMPs, possible Team and Partnership strategies are:
    1) one Pair plays steady while the other Pair “goes for it;”
    2) in the Partnership, stretch to invite but not to accept
~  If a player says, we were 3 “boards” better than average, a “board” is considered to be average on a board, not top on a board


Bidding
~  Play of the hand may be the most fun, but great play in the wrong contract usually matchpoints poorly.  Don’t neglect working on your bidding.
~  Working on your bidding should be a never ending process of continuous improvement with each of your partners
~  Aspiring players’ hand-record-assisted post mortems should, at least occasionally, include analysis of the opponents’ successful bidding methods
~  Partner is sometimes stuck for a bid, especially on his 3rd call.  Allow for a little deviation
~  Short team matches (say 6-8 boards) such as Compact KOs and regular Swiss Teams, require disciplined bidding
~  When you lack the tools for delicate exploration of the best contract given the bidding so far, bid what you think you can make
~  When you’re in a situation where all bids are imperfect, think of the subsequent auction and go for the bid that will help partner the most
~  The alert system is for the benefit of the opponents—it is unauthorized information for you & partner.  The flip side is if you become the declaring side, you must inform the opponents before the opening lead of any misexplanations or disagreements.  If you are defending, wait until play is over and then explain.  If declarer feels damaged, he/she should call the director.
~  The bidding box Stop card is analogous to a verbal call of Skip Bid.  Please Wait.  You wait about 10 seconds before calling.  It’s immaterial when the Stop card is put away.
~  When you hold ace-king-ace, open the bidding unless you have a balanced hand and will be bidding a weak suit that you don’t want to suggest as the suit for partner’s possible opening lead
~  Playing Standard American with game invitational values as responder, if your 1st bid was at the 2 level, you’ve already shown at least game invitational values, so you may make a minimum rebid.  But if your 1st bid was at the 1 level, you must rebid 2NT, or 3 of an already bid suit, or 2 of a new suit.
~  In the uncontested auction 1-2-2-3, 3 is invitational.  If you bid 3 with less than 10-12 points, you may get too high when 2 or 2 is the limit.  True, you may land in a low-percentage making game (due to poor defense or a lucky lie of the cards), but this kind of hit-or-miss bidding does not lead to consistently good results.
~  You hold game values, respond at the one level in a 4-card major to partner’s opening bid and receive a single raise; consider bidding 3NT in case partner raised on 3-card support
~  If RHO overcalls just before you can make a splinter bid, you may still be able to show that stiff or void if you can make a jump cue-bid at a safe level.  A jump cue-bid is a splinter
~  Learn to avoid overbids on weak, shapely hands.  Especially if you haven’t found a fit
~  If RHO’s 1st seat preempt forces you to bid at the 4 or 5 level, bid when you can hope to make opposite a balanced hand with scattered moderate strength, but not when you need specific cards
~  Bridge bidding isn’t meant to be a guessing game; avoid unilateral action when partner has a bid coming and is likely to know what to do or at least have information to share
~  When your side has bid only a minor, a cue bid of the opponent’s suit shows a good hand and uncertainty about either the strain or the level
~  It often pays not to be too aggressive against pre-empts because the suit breaks tend to be bad
~  Do not rebid a five-card suit unless you have nothing else sensible to do
~  If the opponents never make a contract that you’ve doubled, you’re not doubling enough
~  Penalty doubles are in the arsenal of every good pair/player; they yield a lot of tops.  If they aren’t in your arsenal, you need to risk some bottoms while you learn what makes a good penalty double
~  Wild distribution can overcome a good penalty double.  Even the best pairs double contracts & then see them make, but they continue to double so the opponents won’t rob them blind
~  When you hold “soft” values, be even more leery than normal of doubling freakish hands
~  Save making close doubles and bidding close games for the weaker pairs; against good opponents, be wary
~  When 3 players are bidding vigorously, the 4th player with a strong balanced hand should proceed with caution: the others may all have freak distributions.  It will often be better to support partner than to double for penalty.
~  A good rule of thumb in deciding whether to double or not, or to bid on or not, is to assume that any defense supplied by a preemptor is a bonus
~  In a competitive auction, do not make a premature penalty double with an undisclosed fit for partner.  First, show the support, then double if the opponents persist
~  You seldom double a partscore for penalty when partner has not bid
~  Ironically, it is often safer to double low-level partials than high-level voluntary bids
~  Low level penalty doubles of suit contracts, or low level passes of partner’s takeout doubles, are based on trump length and strength, not high card points
~  When a 1 or 2 level takeout double made by your left-hand opponent has been converted to penalties, “redouble” by either player is a cry for help
~  Trump leads are generally effective against doubled partials
~  After one partner opens the bidding and the other redoubles, either the opening side buys the contract or the opponents play in something doubled for penalty
~  After you open the bidding and your LHO doubles and partner redoubles, any subsequent double by either you or your partner is a penalty double—even at the one level
~  After partner opens and second hand overcalls 1NT, double for penalty with 9 or more HCP.  You have them out-gunned unless you frequently open light, including Rule of 20 openings.  In that case, tread a little more lightly, but mostly rely on partner to pull the double.
~  If an opponent makes a long pause during the auction, before you bid, consider what the pause means.  If he then passed, was he thinking of bidding game?  Was he thinking of rescuing his partner?  Was he wishing you’d bid, simultaneously rescuing his partner & walking into a juicy penalty double?  Think twice before stepping in with a bid.
~  Partner opens a major where you hold 3 cards and game-forcing values.  RHO doubles.  Show your game-going values with 3-card support by redoubling and then jumping in the major
~  Your opening suit bid is doubled, redoubled, and RHO bids.  If you pass, it’s forcing.  If you double, it’s for penalty, promising 4 cards in the doubled suit.  If you bid, even with a jump, it shows a minimum hand with good offense, but poor defense
~  If your opening suit bid is doubled, redoubled and RHO passes, your pass shows a full-value opening bid and keeps the possibility of a juicy penalty double alive
~  Experience suggests that penalty doubles of strong 1NT openers without a source of tricks, just scattered high cards, are dubious
~  Bidding a new suit after a Redouble is forcing
~  If the opponents bid and support a suit to the 2-level and then pass, re-open the bidding with a delayed overcall, delayed double or delayed 2NT
~  The double of any artificial bid is a penalty double and strongly invites the lead of that suit.  Do not double an artificial bid if you are likely to be on lead.  It will probably help declarer more than the defenders.
~  “Don’t save me from my bad bid.”  If a good player jumps into the auction in your stiff or void suit, don’t rescue him prematurely.  If doubled, he may SOS redouble or rely on your judgment whether to sit or run.
~  Rescue partner once but not twice; this typically applies on misfit hands whether doubled or not; don’t be a hand hog and don’t be a masochist—let him/her suffer the agony of defeat
~  The takeout double is a useful, flexible bidding tool, but it is dangerous to double when short in spades
~  In response to a takeout double, an unpassed hand bids the lowest level with 0-8 points, jumps in a suit with 9-11, and que bids with 12+.  For a passed hand, the ranges change to 0-7, 8-9, 10-11
~  In response to a takeout double, 1NT shows 7-9 HCP, 2NT 10-12 HCP, and 3NT 13-16.  These promise 1 stopper, often 2.  (Over 1/1, DOUBLE, you may shade 1NT to 5-6 HCP.)
~  Hands with 4-4 in the majors should respond to a double by bidding spades 1st to facilitate rebids.  Doubler should not expect 5-4 distribution.  Doubler should also note that a spade bid does not deny hearts, but a heart bid does deny spades.  Considering implications such as these can only help your bidding.
~  After a major-suit takeout double, with 4 of the other major and an opening hand, cue bid their suit in case partner has a strong hand without your major but with their suit well stopped.  Partner should recognize your cue bid does not deny 4 of the other major.
~  Doubles through 4 are for takeout.  A good reason to remove a double of 4 is a long spade suit
~  Stretch to bid a 6-card suit (vice defending or being shut out) opposite partner’s takeout double
~  If partner doubles a high-level preempt, tend to leave it in with a flat hand and pull it with a shapely hand
~  A reopening bid of 2NT after the opponents have found a major suit fit is a minor suit takeout
~  After partner opens 1 or 1 and second hand overcalls 4, 4NT is for takeout.  Blackwood doesn’t exist after a minor suit opening and a 4 overcall
~  If RHO makes an artificial bid & you have a good holding in that suit (preferably headed by the A or K at least), strongly consider a lead directing double.  It may take partner off an otherwise difficult opening lead decision.
~  If partner doubles a “normal” slam contract in a suit, he’s asking you to make an unusual lead.  This is called a “Lightner” double, named after its inventor, Ted Lightner.
~  When making a Lightner slam double, you should be confident of beating any other slam the opponents might run to
~  The most important call for handling a pre-emptive overcall is responder’s negative double
~  When most of your strength is in the opponent’s suit, avoid a negative double.  It is very misleading.  Either bid notrump or pass
~  A negative double followed by a 2NT rebid shows 10-12 HCP and is invitational, not forcing
~  Opener’s rebids after partner negative doubles a 2-level overcall: 2NT shows 14-16 HCP; 3NT, 17-19; non-jump bids show minimums; jumps are invitational; the cuebid is a game force
~  The responsive double at a high level, like a negative double at a high level, must deliver some High Card Points in case partner wishes to convert to penalty
~  With a void in partner’s major & less than 6 HCP, pass.  Do not use 1NT forcing as the first step of a rescue.  If partner gets doubled, SOS redouble to escape or bid your long suit if you have one
~  On the blind opening lead versus a suit, avoid underleading an unsupported Ace, i.e. you don’t also hold the King.  Avoid it even if partner bid the suit in response to your takeout double.  Once dummy is in view, it’s easier to know if the underlead is warranted.  One time you might risk it is when you are certain dummy holds the King and both opponents have at least 2 cards in the suit.
~  The Jacoby 2NT Forcing Raise promises at least 4-card support and game going values (& up).  Typically, it also denies a singleton or void because a splinter would be available.
~  A splinter bid, normally a double jump, shows 4-card support, a game going hand, and a stiff or void in the suit bid.  Do not splinter with a singleton King; avoid splintering with a bare Ace.
~  After an uncontested 2 (forcing), 2 (waiting), 2/ (natural), what do responder’s 3/ & 4/ mean?
     3/ show 5-7 points with 3 or more trumps.
     4/ show 0-4 points with 4 or more trumps.
     With 0-4 points and only 3 trumps, 1st bid whatever your negative is, and await partner’s call.
~  You need to take negative inferences as well as positive.  This applies to the play as well as the bidding.  For instance, you’re on lead after an uncontested 2♣-2-2NT-3-3♠-3NT.  Partner didn’t double either artificial red suit.  Leading either suit might be right, but don’t expect a dynamite holding in partner’s hand.
~  Opening chunky 4-card majors on balanced hands in 3rd & 4th seat is a long-term winner: you preempt the 1 level, direct a lead, can pass any response, and a 4-3 fit plays well by absorbing ruffs in the short trump hand
~  When you have a big minor-suit fit, strive to play in NT, especially when the method of scoring is Matchpoints
~  When you have 2 stoppers in the opponents’ suit, you should probably look for a NT contract
~  Opposite a strong, artificial and forcing two-club opening, two aces normally equal a slam if a fit can be found
~  With two balanced hands opposite each other and full-weight high-card values for either game or slam, it is often better to play in NT where you avoid a possible bad trump break or a ruff in a side suit that is breaking badly
~  When you have 4 card support for partner’s major, give an immediate raise in your methods.  It will be the wrong strain only once every few years.  If you show support belatedly, partner will assume 3 cards.
~  Don’t be a slave to point count.  If you open a minor holding a balanced 18-19 HCP hand with a 4 card major and partner bids that major, bid 4 of the major with 19 HCP or 18 HCP and a ruffing value.  Do not bid 2NT.  With 18 HCP and 4-3-3-3 you have a choice of 2NT or 3 of the major.  Aces and Kings tend to be better in suit contracts; Queens and Jacks are better in NT.  Evaluate your hand and bid accordingly.
~  With a choice of help suit game tries, usually you bid the weaker suit
~  If partner opens the bidding and RHO gets in the auction and you have some values, try to find a bid so partner knows you’re not broke
~  When your fit is a minor, be reluctant to bid past the magic 3NT, especially at matchpoint scoring
~  Scattered points are overvalued on a misfit.  Don’t look for thin games on a misfit unless you have a known source of tricks.  Count tricks, not points, when evaluating a misfit.
~  Passing smoothly with a good hand when you and partner have a misfit may reap an unexpected windfall if an opponent can’t resist bidding once too often
~  Whenever you have a minor-suit fit (and not a 2nd fit in a major) and only have game-going values, aim to play in 3NT if reasonable
~  Opener should not rebid a 5 card suit, not even to deny a short minor, unless he has absolutely nothing else to do
~  Rebidding a suit already bid by your side, even with a jump, is not forcing
~  A new suit by an unpassed responder is forcing unless the opener or responder has limited his hand by bidding 1NT
~  If you are going to bid (and make) a pushy slam, you need a source of tricks
~  A key rule of Blackwood is if one Ace/keycard is missing, bid six.  If you plan to sign off at five when an Ace/keycard is missing, do not wheel out the Ol’ Black
~  Weak responding hands that have 4 cards in a major along with 5 nondescript diamonds, should respond in the major lest it get lost if there is adverse bidding.  With 11+ HCP, bid normally
~  When partner opens one of a suit and rebids 1 NT, 4♣ is ace asking, allowing 4NT to show 18-19 HCP and be invitational to a NT slam
~  Do not use Blackwood if too few Aces from partner will be in a higher suit than your “fit”
~  Do not use Blackwood when you need to know which Ace(s) partner holds not how many
~  Do not count a void as an ace when responding to Blackwood at the five level.  Never!  With a void and 1 ace jump to 6 of the void suit
~  When heading toward a suit contract, a leap to 5NT asks about your honor holding in the last bid (trump) suit.  If you have 2 of the top 3 honors, bid a grand slam.  If heading toward NT, a leap to 5NT is quantitative, guaranteeing 6 and inviting 7.  You need to be confident partner also knows whether you’re planning a suit or NT contract.
~  While there is still bidding room, don’t unilaterally place the contract unless you are absolutely certain of the level and strain to play


Defensive Bidding
~  Holding a smattering of points after an opponent opens the bidding, if there is no good way to enter the bidding, consider passing
~  When an opponent has opened the bidding, be more aggressive than usual in trying to get to game, because you know where most of the missing high cards are
~  A 4th seat preempt shows a near-opening bid since, with a weak hand, 4th seat can pass out the deal
~  A player who preempts in a minor seldom has a 4-card major.  At least that’s the way it was in the “old days.”
~  If the early auction shows the opponents will surely outbid you, passing throughout will make it harder for them to place the missing cards
~  In response to a takeout double, an unpassed hand bids the lowest level with 0-8 points, jumps in a suit with 9-11, and que bids with 12+.  For a passed hand, the ranges change to 0-7, 8-9, 10-11
~  When pre-empting, count tricks not points
~  The best preempts are the ones with a strong suit and no outside strength
~  Do not open with a beneath game preempt holding two Aces or one Ace and two Kings.  You have too much defensive strength
~  The idea of effective preempting is to give the opponents the last guess at a high level.  After that, live with the result
~  A 4th seat preempt shows a near-opening bid since, with a weak hand, 4th seat can pass out the deal
~  A player who preempts in a minor seldom has a 4-card major.  At least that’s the way it was in the “old days.”
~  When thinking of sacrificing, remember declarers are not infallible; a great many contracts that should be made aren’t; consider the quality of declarer’s play in your decision
~  Do not sacrifice on flat hands.  When partner preempts and you have a weak, distributional hand with a fit, it&rsquos; sac time; if you’re weak without a fit or weak without shape, PASS
~  The player who makes a pre-emptive bid should not be the player who takes the sacrifice; partner knows a lot about your hand; you probably know vey little about his
~  When your side has bid only a minor, a cue bid of the opponent’s suit shows a good hand and uncertainty about either the strain or the level
~  A guide to resolving close overcall decisions is: the hand short in the opponent’s suit must strive to take action
~  When overcalling against an opposing strong NT, it is more important to have good distribution and a long suit than high card points
~  You may overcall vice doubling if the overcall has lead-directing and slight preemptive value
~  You may overcall a good 4-card suit at the 1-level, especially spades
~  Any time you hold (good) spades, strain to bid them, including a 1-level overcall on AKxx
~  When partner overcalls at the 1 level, a jump response in a new suit is invitational; if the overcall is at the 2 level, a jump response in a new suit is forcing
~  Jump raises of overcalls are preemptive (thus the need for cuebids), promising 4-card (or more) support, 3-6 HCP, and usually a singleton, especially when vulnerable
~  In response to partner’s 1-level overcall, a 1NT bid shows 8-11 HCP, 2NT shows 12-14 HCP (and is not forcing), and 3NT shows 15-18 HCP
~  A jump overcall after an opponent has preempted—in the range 2 - 3—is invitational, not preemptive; you don’t preempt over a preempt
~  A distributional defensive bid such as Michaels or the Unusual NT gives declarer a road map to play the hand; consider passing unless prepared to outbid them
~  After a 2-suited cuebid, the bidding may proceed without partner responding.  If the bidding comes back to you dead, pass with 8-11 HCP, double with 17+; with 12-16 you should have overcalled
~  After a 1 or 1 opening, a direct overcall of 2NT shows the minors (5-5 or 6-5) with 8-11 or 17+ HCP.  With 12-16 HCP, overcall in diamonds and bid clubs later if feasible
~  Split 2-suited overcalls into 3 HCP ranges: (7 or)8-11, 12-16, 17+.  With the 1st, cuebid and pass partner’s bid; with the 3rd, cuebid and bid again.  With 12-16, overcall the higher suit
~  Jump bids in the balancing seat are constructive, not weak. A jump in a suit shows a six-card suit with 12-15 HCP
~  A passed-hand jump response to an overcall shows a 2-suited hand—the suit you are bidding and partner’s suit
~  After a long huddle, a 1st seat opponent opens a 1-bid, followed by pass - pass; be wary of reopening the bidding—the huddle was probably over a forcing opening or not
~  Without defensive bidding, doubling 3 NoTrump (NT) tells partner, the opening leader, to lead dummy’s 1st bid suit; you should be 99% sure leading this suit will beat 3NT.
~  When you fail to double a Blackwood response, you warn partner that you have no great interest in that suit being led
~  Be aware that competing at a high level may push the opponents to a makeable game they weren’t going to bid.  For instance, before bidding 4, vulnerable against not, consider whether they are likely to make 4.  -170 is better than both -420 and -200 (for 5, doubled, down 1).
~  If an opponent opens a minor suit, a jump to 3 of that minor is natural
~  When the opponents splinter and your only honors are in that suit, it pays to double to warn your partner away from leading any other suit
~  A jump to 4 or 4 after an opponent’s opening bid of 2 or 2 describes a strong two-suiter: the unbid major plus the bid minor.  The jump is not forcing but is highly invitational
~  If an opponent passes after long consideration, you should probably pass too
~  Do not allow the opponents to play a suit at the 2-level unless you have length and strength in that suit
~  A balancing 2NT bid by a passed hand is “unusual,” showing 7-10 HCP.  After a major suit opening, it shows the minors.  After a minor suit opening, it shows s plus the other minor.  If you have s, just bid them.
~  On a competitive part score deal, push the opponents to the 3 level; unless your side has 9 trumps, let them play there (or so says the Law of Total Tricks)
~  After a 2-suited cuebid, the bidding may proceed without partner responding.  If the bidding comes back to you dead, pass with 8-11 HCP, double with 17+; with 12-16 you should have overcalled


Opening Leads
~  When you hold ace-king-ace, open the bidding unless you have a balanced hand and will be bidding a weak suit that you don’t want to suggest as the suit for partner’s possible opening lead
~  Opening chunky 4-card majors on balanced hands in 3rd & 4th seat is a long-term winner: you preempt the 1 level, direct a lead, can pass any response, and a 4-3 fit plays well by absorbing ruffs in the short trump hand
~  You may overcall vice doubling if the overcall has lead-directing and slight preemptive value
~  The double of any artificial bid is a penalty double and strongly invites the lead of that suit.  Do not double an artificial bid if you are likely to be on lead.  It will probably help declarer more than the defenders.
~  If RHO makes an artificial bid & you have a good holding in that suit (preferably headed by the A or K at least), strongly consider a lead directing double.  It may take partner off an otherwise difficult opening lead decision.
~  Without defensive bidding, doubling 3 NoTrump (NT) tells partner, the opening leader, to lead dummy’s 1st bid suit; you should be 99% sure leading this suit will beat 3NT.
~  When the opponents splinter and your only honors are in that suit, it pays to double to warn your partner away from leading any other suit
~  When you fail to double a Blackwood response, you warn partner that you have no great interest in that suit being led
~  If partner doubles a “normal” slam contract in a suit, he’s asking you to make an unusual lead.  This is called a “Lightner” double, named after its inventor, Ted Lightner.
~  When making a Lightner slam double, you should be confident of beating any other slam the opponents might run to
~  Listen to the bidding before making your opening lead
~  With nothing to go on, sequence leads are usually best
~  Tricky or deceptive leads are most often made with strong hands.  Partner, with a likely Yarborough, won’t be much involved in the defense, and declarer may be fooled
~  With a choice of leading an unbid major or an unbid minor, lean toward the major in most cases
~  Upon seeing the opening lead & dummy, declarer forms a plan to make the contract.  That should make him the 2nd person to form a plan.  The leader should have made a defensive plan before placing the face-down opening lead on the table
~  Auctions where the opponents preempt and raise to a high level often create cashout situations; cashing an Ace allows opening leader to hold the lead, see dummy, and get a signal
~  When they bid aggressively, lead aggressively
~  High card leads discourage; low card leads encourage
~  Opening a singleton trump is nearly always bad; you may well cost a trick—or tricks—in partner’s hand
~  Do not lead a singleton trump; exceptions: 1) partner passes a 1-level takeout double, 2) partner penalty doubles a suit at the 1-level, 3) partner’s 2-level penalty double is based on trump length, 4) versus a sacrifice bid
~  On opening lead, if partner is marked with a stiff trump, there is little point in leading a trump from Kxx because neither of you will be able to continue the suit
~  Never lead a trump against a contract where one person bids a suit endlessly with no hint of support from his/her partner
~  Open a trump when the bidding indicates that declarer will lean heavily on dummy’s ruffing value to fulfill his contract
~  When 2 passed hands are in game, lead a trump
~  If an opponent shows a 2-suiter and the advancer (i.e. the partner) seems unhappy with the contract, consider leading a trump; if the advancer looks happy it is less likely a trump lead will be best
~  Trump leads are generally effective against doubled partials
~  Usually when the opponents are bidding on distribution, the best opening lead is a trump
~  Lead trumps when your side is known to be strong in the three side suits
~  Against a “Flannery” or contract, a trump lead is usually best
~  Lead trumps when the opponents are playing in their 3rd or 4th bid suit—do you smell a cross ruff?
~  Lead trumps when one opponent has shown a freak 2-suiter and the other has given a preference
~  Lead trumps when declarer has shown a 2-suiter and you (or by inference partner) are strong in declarer’s 2nd suit
~  Lead trumps against sacrifice bids; if your side has the strength, the opponents must be planning a cross-ruff or ruffs in the short trump hand; lead trumps at every opportunity
~  From Axx of trump (or Kxx), lead a small one; partner more likely has 2 trumps than 3 and it is good tactics to leave him a trump to play if he happens to win the 1st defensive trick
~  On opening lead it is generally wrong to lead from length through length; it is also generally wrong to lead a singleton when holding length in trumps
~  Even though a suit has been bid and raised, it is not an attractive lead against a trump contract if the suit is headed by the ace without the king.  This may help declarer place the missing honors
~  At trick 1 vs. a suit, you lead and win dummy’s stiff; what is partner’s card?  Probably suit preference; a neutral, intermediate card is possibly a come on if dummy’s ruff might promote a trump for partner or prematurely remove a vital dummy entry
~  Against suit contracts, it is usually better to lead from a short, strong holding than from a long, weak suit
~  When you have an ace-king holding in a side suit not bid by the opponents, it is normal to lead that ace (assuming you lead Ace from AK)
~  On opening lead, when it seems you have to take your tricks quickly, you prefer to lead from a King rather than a Queen; but even better is touching honors
~  In general, leading from a King is better than leading from a Queen, which is better than leading from a Jack.  The higher your honor, the faster it will set up
~  If you are leading from a long suit that has been bid by an opponent, it is often better to lead your 4th highest, not from your honor sequence (of 3 or less)
~  On the blind opening lead versus a suit, avoid underleading an unsupported Ace, i.e. you don’t also hold the King.  Avoid it even if partner bid the suit in response to your takeout double.  Once dummy is in view, it’s easier to know if the underlead is warranted.  One time you might risk it is when you are certain dummy holds the King and both opponents have at least 2 cards in the suit.
~  There is a rule-of-thumb—return partner’s opening lead.  That is typically true in no-trump, but always think first.  (Against a suit contract, this rule is correct much less often.)
~  When you are behind dummy & switch to a new suit and you have dummy’s top card surrounded—next above & below—and have a higher non-touching honor, shift to the card above dummy’s best.  Example: dummy holds 10xx & you hold KJ9; play the J
~  On defense, when attacking a suit where you hold Qxx(x) or Jxx(x), if you need two tricks, lead low; but if you require three immediate tricks, lead high
~  Leading an Ace or underleading an Ace against a suit, even when partner has bid the suit, is a big overall loser; leading from a sequence in an unbid suit is often better
~  Short, strong side suits usually make good leads against trump contracts
~  Ignore your normal leading agreements when you know partner has a useless Yarborough
~  When partner leads the Jack against notrump and you have Ax, Kx, Qx or KQx, play your honor to unblock the suit
~  You need to take negative inferences as well as positive.  This applies to the play as well as the bidding.  For instance, you’re on lead after an uncontested 2♣-2-2NT-3-3♠-3NT.  Partner didn’t double either artificial red suit.  Leading either suit might be right, but don’t expect a dynamite holding in partner’s hand.
~  If planning to lead dummy’s 1st bid suit and you suspect that declarer has a stiff, tend to lead high from strongish holdings headed by the K or A, in case declarer’s stiff is an honor
~  On opening lead against a suit, having supported partner’s suit with xxx, lead top then play your original middle card (current top card) to 1st show no honor and 2nd give present count
~  On opening lead with a weak hand and Qxxx(x) or Kxxx(x) in partners suit lead the honor in case you need to switch to another suit.  If you lead low you may never get in again
~  When the opponents have explored 3NT and wound up in five of a minor, tend to lead the unbid suit.  Chances are neither opponent has a stopper in that suit
~  After having shown a long suit during the bidding, an unusual lead in that suit indicates a side suit void; your continued well being requires that you be defending a suit contract and that you have at least 1 trump
~  On opening lead against a suit, having supported partner’s suit with xxxx, lead top then play your lowest card to 1st show no honor and 2nd give present count
~  On opening lead against a suit, having not supported partner’s suit with xxx, lead bottom, then play your top card to 1st give count (3 or 4) and 2nd give present count
~  She was clearly struggling with the opening lead, so he cooed, “Remember, Darling, we’ll always have BOSTON.”  [ Bottom Of Something, Top Of Nothing ]  Whereupon an opponent voiced his own sweet nothing, “Director!”
~  From 10xxx lead low; from 109xx also lead low; presuming this is “your” suit, partner needs to unblock his honors.
~  From Jxxx lead low; from J10xx also lead low; presuming this is “your” suit, partner needs to unblock his/her honors.  Note, leading from Jack empty 4th against NT has been known to cost a trick; strive to avoid doing so.
~  From 10xx lead low, but from 109x lead the 10; you’re hoping this is partner’s suit but you don’t lead an unsupported honor (or semi-honor).  With 2 honors start unblocking.
~  From Jxx lead low, but from J10x lead the J; you’re hoping this is partner’s suit, but in the 1st case you don’t lead an unsupported honor, while in the 2nd you start to unblock.  One case for leading an unsupported honor is when you’re not getting in again, and winning the trick may allow you to make the fatal switch or continuation.
~  If the bidding has made it CLEAR that dummy has a void, underleading an Ace in that suit usually works
~  If partner fails to double an artificial bid (Stayman, Jacoby, cuebids, 4th suit), particularly at a high level, you should probably look elsewhere for the killing lead
~  If dummy leaps wildly to slam (no Blackwood), assume a void, strong trump, a long strong side suit and a likely control in the shorter side suit; it is usually right to lead that shorter side suit
~ To summarize leading from 3 or 4 small in partner’s suit against a suit contract: lead Low if you have not supported, High if have; 2nd play/card in the suit gives present count
~  Holding trump length, lead (side-suit) length; if declarer has 5 or at most 6 trumps, he may lose control after being repeatedly forced to trump
~  If you lead from a long suit without an honor, lead 2nd highest unless the top 2 cards are touching.  If on lead again and you wish to continue the suit, lead the highest.
~  If partner rates to be broke, leading a stiff will likely be futile: in a suit he’ll never get in to give you a ruff; in NT, even if he has length, he&rsquoll never get in to cash long ones.
~  At NoTrump (NT), leading an Ace asks partner to play his/her highest card in the suit.  You (normally) have 4 of the top 5 in a 5-card (or longer) suit; you find out whether to continue the run of the suit (the missing honor has appeared) or switch for partner to gain the lead and lead through declarer’s known honor.  If partner cannot have an entry, it may be best to continue the suit regardless.
~  When leading a broken suit against NT, lead high if the suit can tolerate an unblocking play by partner; otherwise, lead 4th best
~  It is better to lead a strong short suit than a weak long suit when opponents bid 3NT after a pre-emptive 3-of-a-minor opening bid
~  Against NT with 3 or 4 small in partner’s suit, lead Low if you have not supported, High if you have--this is the same leading convention as against a suit.  With honor third, lead low.
~  When responder to a 1 or 2 NT opening bid does NOT use Stayman, the inference is no 4-card major.  Be leery of leading a broken 5-card minor.  It is often dummy’s length
~  On opening lead vs. no-trump, if you hold a very weak hand, prefer NOT to lead a major that partner could have conveniently indicated at the 1-level
~  Lead aggressively against small slams, passively against grands
~  Lead aggressively against a confident, power auction that stops at the 5 level, just as you would against a small slam
~  Against a small slam in a suit, a singleton is a good lead if you’re aceless, have 2 or more trumps, and the opponents didn’t try for seven
~  Don’t lead a side suit singleton against a grand slam unless partner bid the suit


Signals
~  The order in which the 3 legal defensive signals should be used is: attitude, count, suit preference.  If your attitude is known, signal count; if attitude & count are known (or irrelevant) show suit preference
~  The danger in trying to trick declarer with deceptive signaling is that it is more likely that your partner will be the one who ends up being deceived
~  High card leads discourage; low card leads encourage
~  When switching to a spot card in a different suit, the size of the spot card conveys your attitude to partner.  Switch to lowest card = return this suit.  Switch to higher spot card = no interest in this suit
~  Playing standard attitude, when signaling encouragement, play the highest card you can afford—from a sequence play the top unless an echo would be a disaster; then choose 2nd highest
~  The discard of an honor denies a higher honor and shows one or more lower but equal honors—but not around trick 12 and especially not if several discards have already been made
~  When partner gets off to a bad opening lead, base your signal on the best defense at that point, not on what the defense should have been.  Also, don’t waste your mental energy on what should have been
~  How do you signal when partner’s opening lead promises the A & K?  With a singleton, you have no choice.  The Q promises the J (or it’s stiff), with or w/o length.  With a doubleton, you hi-low (but not with Qx).  With an equal honor, in this case the Q, signal encouragement.  With anything less, discourage.  The J, which denies the Q, could be a doubleton (standard attitude) or top of a sequence.
~   Why does the Q promise the J when partner's lead promises the AK?   You’re saying partner can reach you by underleading his/her other high honor.  If partner does underlead the other honor, the card led should be suit preference for your return.
~  When holding the Jack and partner leads the King (from KQ10—watch out for King from AK), play an encouraging card—as high as possible playing standard attitude, low playing upside-down attitude— to show possession of a supporting card, in this case the Jack.
~  When holding the 10 and partner leads the Queen (from QJ9 presumably), play an encouraging card to show possession of a supporting card: the Ace, the King, or in this case the 10.  If you’re fortunate enough to hold both the Ace and the 10, it may be right to play the Ace.  Do not woodenly play an encouraging card.  Be sure to consider the entire suit and the whole hand before playing.
~  If partner discourages your lead in his bid suit, there are several possibilities: 1) he lacks a good card to signal with, 2) that suit is established and he’s looking for a lead through broken strength when you’re in next, or 3) he has a baaad suit (like my partner)
~  If partner’s lead establishes your suit, don’t blindly ask for a continuation when he’s in next.  Before signaling, look to see if a switch might be more useful.
~  When partner can hold only 1 of 2 cards to defeat the contract, if you can play the top card in one of the critical suits to receive a signal from partner, do so rather than guess which suit to play
~  We know to signal count in NT when dummy has a long suit, especially without outside entries.  We’re helping partner decide when to take his hoped for winner.  A similar situation exists in a suit contract if dummy is running a long suit without outside entries.  Your count signal allows partner to time his hoped for ruff for when declarer is playing his last card in the suit.
~  When you have the high trump and declarer has 1 lower trump and declarer is cashing dummy’s (entryless) long suit winners, use your trump when declarer plays HER last card in dummy’s suit; partner’s count signal is critical here
~  When marked with SHORTNESS, playing the highest missing card under a winner indicates it is your last card in the suit.  Don’t get too tricky with equals; it throws partner off the count
~  Playing standard attitude, when signaling encouragement with equal cards, signal with the higher or highest equal.  Do not be stingy with equals
~  When playing from known equal honors, use those equals as suit-preference plays to show partner where your outside strength lies
~  On defense, the normal 2nd thru 4th hand play from AKx(x)(x) is to win the King & then play the Ace.  If your partner wins the A & then plays the K, trust that he is showing a doubleton and is looking for a ruff.  Your duty is to give a suit preference signal.
~  When you are setting up a long suit, you can often give partner a suit-preference signal to indicate where your outside entry lies
~  When it is obvious that the 3rd player cannot want a continuation of the suit lead at trick 1--say dummy has a singleton in a suit contract or dummy’s holding in that suit is now solid-- the 3rd player should give a suit-preference signal
~  On defense against NT, when driving out the opponent’s last stopper in your long suit, give suit preference to show where your outside entry lies
~  A discouraging signal is not a command to switch suits; it is a suggestion that you are allowed to override
~  When you are particularly strong in a suit (AQJx) but do not want to lead the suit for fear of giving declarer a cheap trick, lead a discouraging card in another suit


Defending
~  When defending, put yourself in declarer’s shoes.  Your goal is to counter the strategy declarer is likely to adopt.  Another major consideration is if partner’s opening lead strongly suggested a defensive strategy.
~  Defense (or declarer play for that matter) is at a disadvantage when one hand holds all the assets
~  When you know declarer’s distribution, it should be a simple matter to work out partner’s
~  When defending, count the tricks you have coming.  If the total is insufficient, ask where the extra trick(s) may come from
~  Before playing 3rd hand to the 1st trick, use the bidding, the lead and dummy to envision the whole deal.  Use that vision to (initially) plan the entire defense
~  When partner’s opening lead vs. NT is your suit and you have insufficient entries to set it up yourself, duck the 1st round encouragingly; this duck allows partner to lead your suit again should he/she get in first
~  Remember, when trying for an uppercut, cash all your side-suit winners first
~  If planning to give declarer a ruff-sluff in hopes of promoting a trump trick via an uppercut or overruff, cash side suit winners first to prevent declarer discarding a loser
~  On defense, whenever your side has taken every possible side-suit trick, give a ruff and sluff; you might effect an uppercut for yourself
~  When you want partner to uppercut in a suit partner knows you have the high cards, lead low—an Uppercut Demand.  If you lead a winner, you are telling partner NOT to uppercut
~  When trying to promote an extra trump trick for yourself by giving partner a chance to uppercut, cash any side suit winner(s) that might vanish before going for the uppercut
~  If the high cards will not produce enough tricks to defeat declarer, play for an extra trump trick—a ruff by partner, an uppercut, tapping declarer, etc.
~  When declarer is marked with a long, strong trump suit and ruffs with an honor that you can overruff, consider discarding instead if there is a chance to promote an 8, 9 or 10
~  When you are setting up a long suit, you can often give partner a suit-preference signal to indicate where your outside entry lies
~  If declarer has a winner in the suit you are trying to establish, give him that trick as quickly as possible—trick 1 is (almost) never too soon; doing so may keep communication with partner
~  If declarer is likely to repeat a finesse that is losing, it is usually a good idea to false card the first time either by ducking or by winning with an unnecessarily high card. Sometimes you duck more than once.
~  If declarer takes a losing finesse that he will repeat, duck—smoothly.  No hesitating or fumbling with one card and then another.  Deception ducks demand dispatch
~  When a defender has 4 trumps, usually he should try to force declarer to ruff in his hand—to pump/tap declarer.  This statement assumes declarer, not dummy, has the long trumps
~  If a good declarer leads an unsupported honor from dummy, and playing next, you have that card surrounded (and hold at least 1 more low card), it is (almost always) wrong to cover.  Be prepared, duck smoothly.
~  If you can see declarer has laid the groundwork for an elimination & endplay, that is a time to play 2nd hand high.  Declarer will have drawn trumps, eliminated 2 side suits, and is leading the last side suit.  2nd hand must play high to keep his/her partner from being endplayed.
~  When both partners have a role in the defense, defenders try to make every card played send a message.  If attitude & count are known or N/A, both defenders should consider the possibility of suit preference.
~  On defense, after taking your side-suit winners, look for trump tricks
~  If threatened by an overruff, pitching an inevitable loser (loser-on-loser play) may maintain trump control (by allowing the other hand to ruff the next trick) and thereby save a trick
~  When partner leads the Jack against notrump and you have Ax, Kx, Qx or KQx, play your honor to unblock the suit
~  At trick 1, partner leads low.  If you can’t play at least a nine (or its equivalent), give count
~  When it is imperative to get partner on lead as soon as possible, it doesn’t pay to lead a card that he cannot or will not beat
~  Don’t encourage partner to give you a ruff when you have a natural trump trick
~  Rather than immediately cashing established winner(s), look to establish additional tricks if the opponent(s) can’t make those established tricks go away.  If in doubt, cash out.
~  If you have a trick that won’t go away, don’t thoughtlessly cash it; look to see if there’s something better to do for the overall defense
~  On defense, always keep partner in mind.  It’s the total count of winners, not just those won by your hand.  If you have few entries, try to make leads that help partner and the overall defense
~  At trick 1, if declarer plays instantly from the dummy, 3rd hand should pause for thought; for his and his partner’s benefit to work out where the tricks to defeat the contract will come from
~  On defense against NT, when declarer ducks the 1st trick, be aware of the possibility of making a fatal switch.  You have 1 trick in, if you also hold an entry in a suit that declarer will surely need, and can see the setting tricks in another suit, go for that other suit
~  Partner leads suit &ldquo:x” at NT and then is the 1st defender to regain the lead; if he shifts to suit “y” where you have the immediate winner, use the size of the suit “y” card to decide whether to continue suit “y” (low card) or revert to suit “x” (high card)
~  On defense, the normal 2nd thru 4th hand play from AKx(x)(x) is to win the King & then play the Ace.  If your partner wins the A & then plays the K, trust that he is showing a doubleton and is looking for a ruff.  Your duty is to give a suit preference signal.
~  When you are not sure that partner can ruff, but you do want partner to ruff if possible, lead the lowest of equal winners, not the highest
~  When dummy has a long strong suit and no side entry, you may be able to cut declarer off from dummy by leading that suit
~  When lacking trump, partner makes a discard at a suit contract; assume it is from length rather than shortness
~  There are times on defense when it is better to give declarer a ruff & a sluff & lose 1 trick rather than break a new suit & lose 2 tricks
~  Partner leads a likely stiff where you hold the Ace.  If you hold the trump Ace and a stiff of your own, win the trick & switch to your singleton.  Then win the 1st trump lead and give suit preference when giving partner the delayed ruff.
~  Playing 3rd hand at trick 1, if your highest card is lower than the 9, give count, playing low from 3 cards & starting high-low with an even # of cards
~  Partner leads low & dummy has 1 honor and maybe the A also.  If you hold a higher honor and the 8 or 9, it may be right to play that 8 or 9.  1st, ignore the A if it’s in dummy.  2nd, if your honor is 1 higher than dummy’s & dummy plays low, it is usually right to insert the 8 (or higher spot card), saving the honor to cover dummy’s.  3rd, if your honor is 2 higher than dummy’s, now if dummy plays low, you need the 9 or higher to not play your honor.
~  Against a suit, partner has led a singleton or top of a doubleton.  Do you win the 1st or 2nd round of that suit?  Count dummy’s cards & yours in that suit; use the bidding to estimate declarer’s holding.  Now win the round you think makes partner void & go for the ruff.
~  Don’t ruff partner’s winner unless it is the correct play, such as saving partner from a difficult decision on which suit to switch to next, for instance, you know where your other winner is and he/she doesn’t
~  Usually as a defender, if you will be ruffing a loser, don’t.  Either let partner take the trick, or force declarer to waste one of his trumps
~  The defensive tendency is always to win a trick if possible.  Often though, it more profitable to duck, either to keep communication with partner or to break declarer’s communication with dummy
~  Use the bidding to place the missing high cards; use the play to narrow down the location of specific high cards
~  On defense, when attacking a suit where you hold Qxx(x) or Jxx(x), if you need two tricks, lead low; but if you require three immediate tricks, lead high
~  As defender, don’t take your trump Ace too quickly; retain it to dictate the rate at which trumps are drawn
~  When the defenders have dummy’s long suit locked up, their concern should be to stop declarer from ruffing losers in dummy
~  When forcing declarer’s trumps, wait to take your master trump until dummy will be void
~  Defenders should always be on the lookout for the chance to promote each other’s trumps; but promotion does not arise while declarer still has losers to discard
~  Before embarking on a trump promotion, defenders must cash their side suit winners—much as declarer does when he embarks on a cross-ruff
~  A defender should not over-ruff declarer or dummy automatically; the main consideration is the possibility of developing an additional trump trick
~  When discarding, try not to void yourself in a meaningful suit.  If you do and declarer plays that suit, partner’s holding is immediately exposed
~  If on lead with partner’s 3rd round winner established, consider leading another suit to set something else up (you may also keep partner from being end played)
~  Assume the opener has at least 12 HCP unless it becomes clear he/she has a distributional hand (a 6-card suit or two 5-card suits); then opener may have as few as 10 HCP
~  If the only hope to defeat a contract is to underlead an ace to get partner in, underlead it—even if dummy has a stiff and you will lose your Ace if partner doesn’t have the King
~  When playing from known equal honors, use those equals as suit-preference plays to show partner where your outside strength lies
~  When defending, watch for 2nd hand high play that preserves a vital entry for partner.  Applies to suit contracts as well as the more usual NT contracts
~  As a defender, look at a hand from your point of view and partner’s to determine the most logical meaning of a signal
~  When defending with 3 trumps on dummy and Axx in your hand, it may be best to play small the 1st round, then Ace and another
~  On defense against NT, when driving out the opponent’s last stopper in your long suit, give suit preference to show where your outside entry lies
~  When you have the high trump and declarer has 1 lower trump and declarer is cashing dummy’s (entryless) long suit winners, use your trump when declarer plays HER last card in dummy’s suit; partner’s count signal is critical here
~  If opener bids the higher ranking of TOUCHING suits and then rebids the lower ranking suit twice, assume 5-5 but allow for 6-5 or even 5-6 with less than reversing strength
~  If an opening 1 bidder does not raise a major suit response directly, play opener for at least four diamonds
~  If declarer leaves a strong suit (KQJxx, AQJxx) untouched, assume declarer, not partner, has the missing honor.  Strong suits missing one key card are usually attacked early
~  Assume a minimum of 12 HCP for an opening bid, but drop that to 11 if opener shows a distributional hand.  If opener bids the same suit 3 times without jumping, 10 HCP is possible
~  Declarer’s discards from hand can be revealing.  If dummy tables with Qx, Kx or Ax and declarer makes a discard or 2 from that suit, declarer is unlikely to have both missing top honors
~  Any discard from dummy denies a card combination not consistent with the discard.  If declarer discards from AQxx in dummy, declarer won’t have Kx(x) but may have Kxxx or no K
~  Plan your discards in advance.  Be nonchalant when blanking an honor.  Don’t alert declarer to your problem with hesitations, moans or other obvious signs of distress
~  When you are sure partner has nothing to contribute to the defense, don’t make honest discards or signals.  Why help declarer?
~  Declarer has no dummy entry and all the tricks but 1 and starts running winners.  If you have a worthless hand, give partner count by voiding yourself in your shortest suit at once
~  When able to make only ONE discard and you do not want to make a discard in the suit you want led, make a negative discard in the suit partner is more likely to want to lead
~  Vs. suit contracts tend to make discards from length, particularly KNOWN length; discarding from shortness frequently reveals partner’s honor holding in the suit
~  If dummy has a 4 or 5 card suit and you have 4 cards in the suit and your highest card is higher than dummy’s 4th highest card, do not discard from this suit
~  In order to be nonchalant when not covering, i.e. to duck smoothly in tempo, you must be prepared.  Hesitating and then not covering is a dead giveaway, so look for these possible situations the minute dummy hits
~  Normally you cover the 2nd equal honor from dummy, but when dummy has J10 or QJ doubleton, covering the first honor may block the suit and is the stronger play
~  When declarer leads a side suit from dummy in which declarer’s length is known, do NOT give count.  If declarer’s length is unknown, tend to give count
~  Dummy wins the opening lead with a stiff honor, marking declarer with at least the Ace.  Vs. a suit, be wary of letting declarer get back to hand to discard a loser from dummy
~  With AQx you can protect the Queen by playing 2nd hand high if declarer lacks an entry to lead the suit through you a second time
~  Vs. a suit or NT, when dummy tables with AJ10(x)(x) and no side entry, playing 2nd hand high with honor 2nd or honor 3rd can be paralyzing, particularly when declarer has a small doubleton
~  When you are the danger hand, play 2nd hand high to prevent declarer from ducking the lead into partner’s hand
~  Vs. NT, when declarer has 2 stoppers in the suit led and the defenders have 2 vital entries, the defender with the SHORTER holding in the led suit should use his entry 1st
~  Against NT, suit preference is a rare bird at trick 1.  However, if partner leads dummy’s solid suit, give suit preference, your attitude should be obvious
~  Do not be a slave to 3rd hand high.  Against notrump, do not play 3rd hand high with AQx.  It is usually right to play the Q; it keeps communication with partner open; declarer will fear losing the whole suit if he ducks the King from Kxx with all small in dummy and catches you with a trump honor that can later be used to overtrump dummy, play low
~  When partner leads a trump from known weakness and catches you with a trump honor, play low if you must conserve your trump honor to kill a dummy entry
~  When taking a trick with an equal honor DOUBLETON, win with the higher equal if you are planning on returning the suit, otherwise, play the lower equal
~  Using standard attitude, when signaling encouragement with equal spot cards, signal with the higher or highest equal
~  On defense, after having played the lowest equal from 3 or 4 equals, play your highest equal next
~  To make the right 3rd hand play at trick 1, you need some idea whether partner is leading from length or shortness, weakness or strength.  Do not be a slave to “3rd hand high”
~  When an accurate defender (playing standard attitude) signals encouragement with a high spot card, he denies the spot card directly above, e.g. a signal with the 8 denies the 9.  So, as a defender, signal with the highest card you can afford, which means the top of a sequence, not the bottom, not the middle
~  Never just signal encouragement when you can afford to overtake; partner may be leading a stiff.  Exception: you want partner to lead a different suit and therefore discourage
~  When declarer has a certain stopper in the suit you’ve led and you have no outside entry, keep communication open by allowing declarer to win the 2nd round of the suit
~  When planning your defense facing a partner who has made a non-vulnerable preempt, consider yourself lucky if partner comes up with one defensive trick
~  When trying to build a trick in a suit in which LHO is known to be strong, lead low from a doubleton honor; keep your honor so partner can safely return the suit when in
~  When declarer has a repeatable finesse, it is almost always right to duck the 1st finesse ... calmly and in (normal) tempo
~  When there is a strong possibility declarer can trump coup you: 1) do not shorten declarer; 2) try to drive out dummy entries before declarer discovers the bad trump break
~  When faced with a choice of leading a side suit that will establish an extra trick for declarer or giving declarer a ruff and a sluff, give the ruff and sluff
~  If partner leads a trump from a likely doubleton & you have Axx and no other entry, it’s often right to duck.  When in, partner can lead his last trump, which allows you to win & play a 3rd round
~  If partner is void in one suit yet makes an encouraging discard in another, partner has “spoken.”  A ruff is not desired; lead the requested suit.  Conversely, if you’re the one with the void and want to ruff, be careful with your discards
~  At notrump, expert declarers have been known to attack their weakest suit to throw you off the scent.  Be aware that this possibility exists
~  If it cannot cost a trick, play the card or cards you are known to hold as soon as possible
~  High card leads discourage; low card leads encourage
~  Do not overruff with an honor that will still score a trick later unless you have something vital to do immediately; with good spot cards, you might come to a 2nd winner
~  Playing 3rd hand at trick 1, experts tend to lie and win the Ace not the King when planning to return a singleton; winning the King and switching tends to deny a singleton
~  When declarer ruffs high, you may promote a trump trick by discarding rather than overruffing; declarer shortens his equal honors, promoting your surrounding honors into a tenace
~  If a competent declarer calls for dummy’s top card, which you have surrounded, play low as if you hadn’t a care in the world; he/she wants you to cover, so don’t
~  When switching to a suit such as Jxx or Qxx when dummy on your right holds low cards, lead low if you need only 2 tricks, but lead the honor if you need 3 or more tricks from the suit
~  With the semblance of an entry, always save at least one card in the suit partner has lead
~  Be prepared to discard a high card, such as K from Kx or A from Ax to create a vital entry for partner; you hope partner has Qx or Jxx
~   With a natural trump trick—one must make in any case—don’t over-ruff unless: a) you want the lead, or b) you hope to get a second ruff
~  Do not split your honors if you suspect that declarer is attempting a “deep” finesse, e.g. holding KQx in front of AJ9
~  If you have decided to switch to a suit headed by AJ9 or KJ9 and dummy is second to play with Qxx or Qxxx, lead your J.  If partner has the other top honor, you trap the queen.  If the J is` not covered, cash the A & play the 9.  If the Q is played, partner wins and leads to your remaining tenace.  3rd hand must be alert to this possible layout!
~  On lead, sitting behind an apparently entryless dummy, try not to lead a card that might finesse yourself
~  If a competent declarer leads an honor that you have surrounded and you hold no close spot-cards, it is almost certainly wrong to cover
~  Good players do not leap to slam missing two aces when they could have used Blackwood—unless they have a void; so, be wary of cashing a 2nd ace in the face of strength in that suit in dummy
~   (When defending) do not ruff if an overruff could cost you a natural trump trick
~  On defense, whenever you have won all the side-suit tricks you can take, it’s often right to concede a ruff-and-discard
~  Playing 3rd hand against notrump holding AQx, the normal play at trick one is the Queen; you’re still unblocking and declarer may feel compelled to take the King rather than hold up
~  At notrump, when the defense has no readily establishable suit, try to kill the declaring side’s long suit by removing the side entry to the suit
~  If in a position to overtrump a known strong trump holding, check your intermediates before overruffing.  With strong intermediates you often gain a trick by not overruffing
~  The lead of a low card does not tell partner your exact honor strength; try to clarify your strength later by playing your highest remaining equal on the 2nd round of the suit
~  When marked with length, playing the highest missing card on the 3rd round of the suit tells partner that declarer is out of the suit


Declaring
~  Declaring (or defense for that matter) is at a disadvantage when one hand holds all the assets
~  Upon seeing the opening lead & dummy, declarer forms a plan to make the contract.  That should make him the 2nd person to form a plan.  The leader should have made a defensive plan before placing the face-down opening lead on the table
~  Before assuming a low opening lead in an unbid suit is from length, look for the honors in the suit.  If all are accounted for, the lead is probably a singleton
~  As declarer, to encourage opening leader to continue the suit led, play a high card.  To encourage a shift, play a low card.  In other words, signal as though you were opening leader’s partner.  (If the opponents aren’t playing standard attitude, signal appropriately for their agreement.)
~  If you can’t afford a loser in a suit that requires repeat finesses and you have only 1 entry in the opposite hand, finesse by repeatedly leading the lowest card that can win the trick if the finesse works
~  With only one winner in your hand, time its use (and lead to the next trick) thoughtfully
~  Desperate holdings call for desperate plays, such as very deep finesses
~  In general, when trying for an extra trick, choose playing on a suit missing an Ace or King before one missing a Queen
~  Rather than immediately cashing established winner(s), look to establish additional tricks if the opponent(s) can’t make those established tricks go away.  If in doubt, cash out.
~  With the possibility of pitching a loser from either of 2 suits, tend to pitch from the suit least likely to be overruffed
~  After 1NT-3NT, you receive a 4th best minor suit deuce lead.  Assume the leader has at most 3 cards in any major and 3 or 4 cards in the other minor.
~  Declaring NT with a single stopper in an attacked suit, use the Rule of 7 to determine how many times to duck.  Subtract the # of cards you and dummy hold in the suit from 7.  The result is the number of times to duck
~  When playing NT and holding a single stopper in the suit led--the Ace (or K if righty won the A), subtract the number of cards your side has from 7 & hold up your winner that number of rounds
~  A possible exception to the rule of 7 for holding up in NT is when you know their 8 cards are dividing 4-4; don’t give them a chance to make a fatal switch; take the 1st trick & go about your business
~  Look for opportunities to force the opponents into a suit blocking situation; especially in NT; for instance, if missing 3 consecutive honors and none is lead, righty might have honor-doubleton; immediately taking your winner might block the suit, or if the unblock is made, might set up a 2nd stopper for you
~  In NT, you have a 4-4 eight-card fit missing the KQ, with the J or Ten in one hand and the A & Ten or J in the other.  You guarantee 2 tricks by playing the A 1st.
~  When planning to run a long suit, before making your 1st play, check the spots carefully to see if immediate unblocking is needed
~  One notrump guideline: if you have two stoppers in the suit that the opponents led and two high cards to dislodge, duck the 1st trick
~  Use the bidding to place the missing high cards; use the play to narrow down the location of specific high cards
~  The method of dealing with unauthorized information (UI) in the play is identical to the method during the bidding.  First, you summon the Director to establish there was UI.  Then, you recall the Director at the end to look at the hand; do make sure that players do not shuffle their cards!  The Director needs to consider the play in making a ruling on the result of the UI.
~  When you have two lines of play, learn as much as possible by first playing as many cards as you can safely before committing yourself to one line versus the other
~  When you might lose trump control, set up side suit winners early
~  With honor 3rd facing double honor 4th and missing both the Ace and the ten, best bet for 3 winners is to lead toward the double honor twice
~  If you need only 3 tricks from Axx opposite KJxx, proper technique is to cash the King 1st, then the Ace and only then lead toward the remaining Jx
~  As declarer, always take a close look at the spot cards in both hands, especially in a suit you want to run.  If a suit blockage is threatened, you may need to take action on the very 1st lead.
~  Holding KJ(x)(x), you may think you have a guess/choice whether to play the K or the J.  But if the hand behind the honors can cash the setting trick, you have no choice; play the K.  If it loses, you cannot make the contract
~  With weak trumps and side suit winners to protect, it is usually best to draw trumps early—to prevent the opponents scoring them separately by ruffing your side suit winners
~  When entries to dummy seem barren, check the trump spots in dummy to make sure you can’t force your way there by conceding a trump trick even though your trump suit is solid
~  When you take a finesse that you might have to repeat, lead the lowest card that can win the trick and retain the lead in the same hand
~  If you can’t afford to lose any more tricks and finesses in 2 suits are available, 1st cash your top winners in the longer suit; if the key honor has not dropped, take the finesse in the other suit
~  When planning a crossruff that requires ruffing more cards in one suit than another, begin by ruffing the suit where more ruffs are required
~  If one line of play requires 2 cards onside and another requires 1 card favorably placed, choose the one that needs only 1 card onside, unless you know that line is doomed to failure
~  As declarer, when faced with a choice of discards on dummy winners, discard from the shorter suit, particularly if at least one card from the longer suit can be trumped in dummy
~  When your key suit could be blocked, play the suit early while you still have a return entry to the hand with the length in the key suit
~  If a defensive ruff is imminent, try to extract the ruffer’s safe exit cards before conceding the ruff.  Then, whatever, he/she returns will replace the trick just ruffed
~  Whenever you are in a contract that appears easy to make, spend a few moments looking for any possible danger.  If you spot something, and there is no risk in eliminating it, go for it
~  When analyzing a deal, ask yourself, “If I do that, what will happen?”  If the answer is unpalatable, find a better plan
~  Consider the significance of the opening lead and try to place the missing honors in the suit led
~  Don’t play too hastily from dummy at trick one; more contracts are lost at the first trick than any other
~  Usually, if you can over-ruff with a card that will still win a trick later, don’t; ambitiously discard in hopes of promoting a 2nd winner
~  When taking a finesse that you plan to repeat, think ahead.  It is often right to start with the bottom of non-touching, equally high cards
~  If a preemptor leads an unbid suit, it’s a likely singleton; if the preempted suit is lead, the preemptor probably has a singleton trump
~  Take the time to figure out why an opponent didn’t bid; assume an opponent with unusual shape will bid when he can; restricted choice isn’t gospel in every situation
~  In notrump, if you must lose a trick to establish a suit, it is usually best to lose it as quickly as possible; if you must lose two tricks, try to lose the first as quickly as possible
~  If an opponent leads a singleton against your small slam, he won’t hold an ace or the trump king
~  Declaring NT, with a single stopper, add dummy’s cards in the suit led to yours and subtract from seven; the remainder is the number of times you should hold up
~  The normal way to set up a long suit that has Axxxx(x) facing a small doubleton is to duck the 1st round and then play the ace and trump the suit
~  A deep finesse can keep the danger hand off lead
~  Be prepared to hold off with an ace in a suit contract if that keeps the danger hand off lead
~  In NT, with a total of 7 cards in a suit including the Ace-King, duck the 1st round of the suit in order to keep control—if you fear no other suit
~  Whenever you can take a ruff in the short-trump hand, it is probably right to do so
~  A player who bids (or supports his partner) with very few high cards is a better guide to singletons and voids than any amount of symmetry of distribution
~  Declaring NT, when a low card is led and RHO plays an honor, deceptive play is to win the trick with the higher of 2 equal honors and with the middle of 3 equal honors
~  As declarer with several touching honors, when the player to your left leads an honor win the trick with the equal honor that the opening leader cannot have
~  When threatened by a forcing defense, it may be better to 1st establish a side suit and then play for a 3-2 trump break vice finessing for the Queen
~  When LHO leads a Q and you have Kxx in dummy facing 10xx in hand, it is usually correct to play low from dummy; if the J is next, cover (you win or promote the 10); if not, play low
~  Though the need for a trump coup—where you reduce your trump length to the opponent’s—may not be apparent early, with extra long trumps, good technique is to start ruffing ASAP
~  When you are reasonably certain that a winning card you may play from dummy will be ruffed, consider trading losers by playing low, later using that winner for a useful discard
~  Declarer should determine how the suit led is dividing; consider the card led, the card that 3rd hand plays, and if 3rd hand wins, the card 3rd hand returns
~  Leave the key suit—one in which there is a guess, e.g. a 2-way finesse—as late as possible; use the bidding and high cards revealed elsewhere to improve your guess
~  In NT, if you need to sneak a trick while wide open in another suit, try to sneak it immediately
~  As declarer in NT holding Kxx facing xx in dummy in the suit led at trick 1, if 3rd hand plays the A and returns the suit, it is usually right to duck and win the 3rd round
~  If an opponent leads thru a KJ combination and the player in back of the KJ has the setting trick(s) should he/she get in, play the K; if it loses you can never make the hand anyway
~  After a hand has been stripped and you are leading from xxx up to Kxx, duck the 1st round completely and rise with the K on the 2nd round.  This assumes a reentry to the hand with 3 small; if you’re going to be locked in the hand with Kxx, play the King.
~  When faced with a choice of finesses (both suits missing the queen), play the AK of the longer suit.  If the queen doesn’t drop, take the finesse in the shorter suit
~  If LHO fails to a lead a suit where you and dummy have all small, assume LHO does not have the AK in that suit
~  When one of the defenders has greater length in a suit than his partner, the odds are that any given card in that suit will be in that defender’s hand
~  When a defender shows up with all the strength which his bid—or pass—suggests, declarer should place missing high cards with the other defender, and play accordingly
~  A card may be more valuable as an entry than as a straightforward winner; sometimes it is necessary to overtake your own King or Queen to create an entry
~  When trumps provide entries to a long suit, avoid ruffing losers in that hand; a trump is often more valuable as an entry to several tricks than a ruff of a single trick
~  Refuse to be forced—to ruff opponents’ winners—when you can afford to lose a particular trick or tricks, but cannot afford to shorten your trumps (and lose trump control).  Similarly, refuse to overruff and possibly suffer an uppercut (and lose a trump and the loser you didn’t pitch)
~  DRAW trumps when you fear the opponents may ruff winners in your side suits; DON’T DRAW trumps prematurely—when you want to ruff losers in dummy
~  Delay taking a finesse if possible, e.g. with AKJ, 1st win a high honor before finessing the Jack on the 2nd lead of the suit
~  When dummy has a long suit but few entries, be conscious of the opportunity to overtake one of your honors in order to speed up the establishment of dummy’s suit
~  When LHO leads a winner and you are void and RHO is the danger hand, consider discarding a loser in a suit requiring a finesse into RHO; trading losers may keep RHO off lead
~  When you are in a great contract, think of what can go wrong and try to take out insurance against that happening
~  The best play for six tricks with AKJ10xx facing xx is to take a first round finesse; it is wrong to first play the ace and then take a finesse; you can no longer pick up Qxxx
~  When planning to use the trump suit as an eventual entry to an established side suit, ensure the trumps are breaking adequately for dummy to draw the last enemy trump
~  When declaring with 2 equal cards, play the one you are known to hold as soon as possible; e.g. holding KJ tight, LHO leads the Queen, dummy follows suit, RHO takes the Ace; both defenders know you hold the King, so play it since it costs nothing and may confuse the defenders
~  In a strip and endplay, the throw-in suit is usually an equal-length side suit (equal between declarer and dummy), but sometimes the trump suit must be used
~  Whenever you have long trumps in each hand, think “strip and endplay”
~  If drawing trumps consumes a vital entry when there is a need to establish a long suit, begin the long suit and postpone tackling trumps
~  With a trump finesse and the need to establish a side-suit discard, it is often necessary to obtain the discard before taking the trump finesse
~  As declarer, always know what you plan to do at trick 2 before playing from dummy at trick 1
~  When an AKQx side suit facing xxx does not divide 3-3, there is still the possibility of throwing an opponent in with the 4th card to force a favorable return
~  When you have losers in a suit that is divided 3-3 between your hand and dummy, save that suit until the bitter end
~  When dummy has a strong suit which may give declarer discards, grab your tricks quickly
~  With a singleton facing a singleton, try to use that suit as your throw-in suit after the hand has been stripped.  You may be able to force an advantageous lead in another suit
~  If you wish to set up a long suit in dummy and the only entries to dummy are in trumps, beware of playing trumps too early.  Prefer to start on the long suit
~  When one hand entry is in the trump suit and the other is in a side suit, you should use the side-suit entry first
~  To make it harder for the defenders to read their signals, copy their methods, playing high from a doubleton and low from a tripleton if they play standard attitude (and count)
~  In general, when cross ruffing a hand, cash side suit winners 1st, ending in the hand with the most cards to be ruffed, the place you want to be to start the cross ruff
~  With 2 possible side suits to set up, you may be able to try them both by testing the one requiring the most outside entries 1st
~  In a suit contract, the master hand is usually the one with the most trumps.  Even if it has (far) fewer points, even if it is face up on the table, it is still usually the master hand
~  For a squeeze to operate, entries are needed between declarer and dummy; if there is only 1 entry (link) between the 2 hands and it can be removed, no squeeze will be possible
~  When the opponents have the Ace of dummy’s long suit and you have no side entry, assume the opponent with the Ace will hold up until you play your last card in the suit
~  With a weak dummy you need to manage all of dummy’s assets; even a weak 4-card suit in dummy must not be overlooked if there is a chance to set up that 4th card
~  If you must lose a trick in a suit before ruffing (in dummy) and if the ruff will be with a low trump, duck an early round of the suit; if using a master trump, do not duck an early trick
~  If partner has bid and you can see 5 cards between you and dummy in an UNBID MAJOR, assume the suit is divided 4-4.  Surely either opponent would bid a 5-card major


Unassigned
~  Requirements for a reverse with 5-6 distribution dip to as low as 13-14 HCP when the strength is concentrated in the two long suits
~  If partner makes a daring underlead and you find yourself unexpectedly on play, chances are partner has a side suit void
~  When opponents contest but drop out early, expect favorable breaks.  When they compete vigorously, expect the opposite
~  The figure to focus on during the defense is the number of tricks you need at any given moment to defeat the contract.  Defense is based on this figure
~  Sitting in front of dummy with length in dummy’s suit and a side suit (honor) winner, it may be necessary to take that side suit winner 2nd hand high to avoid being squeezed later
~  If you wish to induce the opponents to lead a trump, lead dummy’s short suit—even if you have nothing to trump in that suit
~  Opponents can often be led around like sheep.  Whichever suit you seem to be intent on discarding is sure to be the suit they will attack once they get the lead
~  If you wish to conceal strength in a suit in which you have all the honors, at least pretend you are taking a finesse
~  In notrump, when an opponent leads your long, concealed suit, but a suit in which you have a loser or two, duck the trick.  Opening leader will often continue the suit
~  When you want an opponent to cover one of your honors, play your higher or highest equal honor.  When you do not want an honor covered, play your lower equal
~  Good defenders, like good declarers, play the cards they are known to hold as soon as possible
~  When partner leads a Queen and 3rd hand has the Ace, 3rd hand must allow for a singleton King in declarer’s hand and will usually play the Ace
~  Once play begins, ask yourself what declarer seems to be trying to do—set up a long suit, score ruffs in dummy—and try to counteract those plans
~  When either declarer or partner shows out of a suit, you have a complete count on that suit.  Don’t be lazy—count!
~  If you receive an opening trump lead and hold a solid suit, win with the Queen to conceal your strength.  You are known to hold the Queen because people don’t underlead the trump Queen
~  If you suspect there may be a foul division in a side suit, the safest way to cash winners in that suit is to lead TOWARD those winners.  Do not lead the winners outright
~  When each hand has a long side suit, it’s usually right to set up the hand with the longer side suit
~  The weaker the side suit that you are establishing, the less likely you are to draw trumps initially.  The general rule is: side suit first, trumps later
~  Before crossruffing a hand, count the number of trump tricks you think you can score.  This count tells you how many side suit winners you need to cash first
~  If you are running a long suit and have to make several discards, it is a good idea to make your 1st discard in a suit you wish to encourage the opponents to discard
~  Before running a long suit, make sure you have enough safe discards to make.  If you don’t, develop the necessary number of outside tricks BEFORE running the long suit
~  You can pick up oodles of extra tricks by tempting players to cover an honor with an honor even though you are NOT planning to finesse
~  When you have a nine-card trump fit missing the Queen and one opponent has preempted, play the preemptor’s partner for the Queen
~  If the opponents lead through an honor combination in dummy facing a void in your hand, you have a chance to take a “free” finesse as long as you have other entries to dummy
~  When you have to choose which finesse to take between two suits each missing the King, play the Ace of the longer suit.  If the K doesn’t drop, take a finesse in the shorter suit
~  With two finesses available and a Queen missing in each suit, if you cannot afford to lose a trick, play the AK of the longer suit.  If the Q doesn’t drop, take a finesse in the shorter suit
~  With a choice of two finesses—one in a long suit, one in a short suit—take the long suit finesse first.  With the long suit established, you may not need the short suit finesse
~  With 10 trumps between your hand and dummy missing the King, take the finesse.  However, if you can use the King as a throw-in card to force a losing return, play the Ace
~  If a defender declines to ruff one of your winners, he is either void in trump or, more likely, has a strong holding which he does not want to weaken
~  If a player does not make an obvious play, he probably has a key honor from which he fears leading
~  If the opponents adopt an active defense when dummy has a threatening side suit, assume the side suit is breaking evenly
~  Against good opponents, when RHO fails to double a high level cue-bid or a Blackwood response for the lead, assume LHO has the important missing honor(s) in that suit
~  In notrump, holding AKx(x) in your hand facing all small in dummy, win the 1st trick with the K.  Winning the Ace arouses suspicion.  If that were your only stopper, why didn’t you hold up
~  Bottom line tip on the danger hand in notrump: to retain your health, arrange for the danger hand to play second, not fourth, when taking a finesse
~  In notrump, it is almost always right to attack your longest suit to develop extra tricks.  However if “time” is a factor, you may have to work with a shorter suit
~  When the problem appears to be forging re-entries to your hand, you can open lines of communication by leading a singleton early in the play
~  When the unbid suit is not led, the two most likely reasons are: (1) the opening leader has the Ace of the suit without the King; (2) the opening leader has a strong lead in another suit
~  If you have bid two suits and wind up in your second suit, a trump lead usually indicates that the opening leader has strength in your first suit
~  If you are missing the AKQ of a suit that has been bid to your left and not led, assume the AQ is to your left and the King to your right
~  If the opponents do not lead a suit in which you are missing both the Ace and the King, assume the honors are split or RHO holds them both
~  A four-level cuebid of a 3 or 3 opening shows five cards in the unbid major and an unknown five- or six-card minor
~  A 3-level cuebid after a 2 or 2 opening bid asks partner to bid 3NT with a stopper in the opponent’s suit.  The cuebidder normally has a long, solid minor
~  A cuebid of a minor-suit preempt is for the majors
~  A jump overcall after an opponent has preempted—in the range 2 - 3—is invitational, not preemptive; you don’t preempt over a preempt
~  A 4th seat weak two bid should contain 10 to 12 High Card Points (HCP)
~  High-level preemptors almost always have a singleton; be wary of their opening leads.  If the singleton isn’t led, assume the preemptor also holds a singleton trump
~  As declarer, when you hold a 2-suited hand, it is usually right to establish the side suit first
~  Holding a weak suit (to be concealed) and needing to give up the lead early in a side suit, do not draw trump 1st.  You may give an opponent a chance to make a revealing discard
~  Before drawing trump, decide where you want to end up.  Don’t surprise yourself
~  A player who leads a short suit seldom has the Queen of trump.  Play RHO for the Queen
~  If RHO bids a suit and LHO leads a trump, LHO has either 1) a flat hand with honors in each suit, or 2) Axx in partner’s suit and fears you have the King, or 3) short-term memory problems
~  Do not play an honor if it cannot win the trick or cannot promote a winner for yourself or partner ~  If there is only 1 lie of the cards which will allow your contract to succeed, assume the cards lie that way
~  With KQ10 in hand opposite rags in dummy, play low to the queen first, not the king—you hope to avoid a guess later by misleading the defender with the ace sitting over you into thinking his partner has the King, and therefore it’s right to take the Ace
~  When the bulk of your high card strength is in your short suits, or is opposite partner’s known short suit, prefer to play in no-trump
~  If you have a strong trump fit (or a self-sufficient trump suit) and no losers in the 1st three rounds of any suit, you are likely to win all 13 tricks
~  After an opponent’s 2-level overcall, with stopper(s) and 10-12 HCP, respond a non-forcing 2NT.  With 13-16 HCP bid 3NT
~  After partner opens and 2nd hand overcalls 1NT, bidding a new suit, jumping in a new suit, or jumping in partner’s suit all show weak distributional hands.  Double to show strength
~  After partner responds to your Stayman bid, ask for Aces by bidding 4, keeping 4NT as quantitative.  This is one of the few times 4 is used to ask for aces when the previous bid was not 1NT or 2NT.
~  As a passed hand, after an intervening overcall, the cuebid substitutes for the limit raise.  The jump raise becomes preemptive
~  A passed-hand 2NT response shows a balanced 11-12 HCP and denies a singleton.  A 1 or 2 level response followed by 2NT shows the same strength but may contain a singleton
~  There is no bridge law stating that you must use Blackwood to arrive at a slam.  Two balanced hands facing each other seldom, if ever, use Blackwood
~  After you open 1NT or 2NT and partner invites slam with 4NT, pass with a minimum.  With a maximum and a 4-card minor (or 5-card major) bid that suit at the 5-level.  (You need 5 cards in a major because you assume partner would have Stayman’d with a 4-card major.)
~  Bid conservatively with “aceless wonders.”  Bid aggressively with solid suits
~  Don’t “invent” a reverse with 5-5 distribution.  Open the bidding in the higher-ranking suit.  When you reverse, the 1st bid suit is longer than (not equal to) the 2nd
~  After opener rebids 1NT, a new lower ranking suit by responder is not forcing and shows an aversion to playing in NT
~  As responder, do not bid a new suit (i.e., a 2nd suit for you) at the 2-level with less than 11 HCP unless opener’s rebid was 1NT.  Over 1NT, your new, lower ranking suit is not forcing; over any other rebid by opener, it is.
~  A direct response of 3NT to a 1-bid shows 16-17(18) HCP and denies a singleton.  However, responder’s rebid of 3NT shows 13-15 HCP and may contain a singleton
~  A direct response of 2NT to a 1-bid not only shows a game-going 13-15 HCP but also denies a singleton.  However, responder’s 2NT rebid, showing an invitational 11-12 HCP, may contain a singleton
~  With 5-4-4-0 distribution, open 1.  If partner responds 2, your void suit, rebid 2, not 2.  If you rebid 2, you deny 4 hearts
~  Over an opening 1-bid, a direct natural response of either 2NT or 3NT denies a singleton; a 1NT response may contain a singleton—or even a void!
~  Playing a 15-17 HCP NT range, do not raise 1NT to 2NT with 8 HCP and 4-3-3-3 distribution. Ditto for a 16-18 HCP range with 7 HCP
~  Do not commit yourself to 3NT until you have made sure a major suit game is not feasible; 4 of a major is usually the easiest game.
~  When partner shows a void and you have a strong trump fit, there are only 30 relevant points; try cue bidding vice Blackwood (worthless unless you know partner’s void)
~  When the bidding has reached the 5-level in a competitive auction, tend to defend rather than bid on
~  When you are missing 2 non-touching honors, e.g. King & Jack, it is normally superior to finesse first for the lower honor ~  Make a mental note of declarer’s likely point count during the bidding; as soon as dummy appears, count dummy’s points.  You now also have an estimate of partner’s likely point count, even if he didn’t bid.
~  Make a mental note of declarer’s likely distribution during the bidding; continually refine that estimate as play goes on
~  Do not cover an honor with an honor if partner is short in the suit led (yes, you need to be counting the suit) and you have no clear-cut card of your own to be promoted
~  Keep track of the tricks needed to defeat the contract; be guided by the number of tricks needed to beat the contract and the number of tricks potentially available in any particular suit
~  After Blackwood 4NT, asking for Kings via 5NT guarantees your side has all the Aces (or all Keycards).  5NT shows interest in a Grand Slam, ergo you must control all suits.  While this is an asking bid, it also tells partner your side has all the controls, in case he/she can push on when you can’t
~  Bid the Grand Slam Force (normally a jump to 5NT) after a Blackwood response by bidding 6 vice 5NT or some other 6-level bid.  Exception: if your agreed suit is , 6 is to play
~  With the top 3 honors split 2 opposite 1 and tenaces on both sides (10 in one hand, 9 in the other) first play an honor from the hand with 2 to preserve tenaces in both hands
~  Keep length with declarer if you can win a “long” card in the suit; if both you and declarer have length, partner probably won’t (yes, this is often hard to tell since declarer’s hand is hidden)
~  Keep length with dummy if you can win a “long” card in the suit; if both you and dummy have length, partner probably won’t
~  Unlike defenders, declarer attempts to win a trick with the highest of equal cards not the lowest
~  When cashing winners in a suit (held jointly by you and dummy), keep a tenace (if any) intact as long as possible in case the finesse is revealed to be a sure thing
~  With 8 cards in a suit between both hands, including the A, K and J in one hand, normally you finesse for the Q on the 2nd round of the suit; lack of entries may dictate otherwise. If you do have a shortage of entries to the “facing” hand, get in the habit of cashing the A as soon as reasonably possible.
~  With both a 5-3 fit and a 4-4 fit, prefer the 4-4 — the 5-3 side suit should provide 1 or 2 sluffs, the 4-4 side suit never will
~  When dummy has touching honors, wait until the 2nd one is led to cover—declarer may not be finessing or may even have a stiff
~  When the sole outstanding trump is higher than your highest trump, leave it out.  Exception: dummy has a long solid suit to run and no outside entry
~  Lead toward weakness in dummy unless a) dummy has no entry/is void in the suit, and b) you’ll be finessing yourself.  Let declarer work out the need and the means for a coup / end play
~  Leading through strength is better if that strength is broken, not solid.  I strongly believe the rule-of-thumb should have been worded: lead through broken strength.  If there is no broken strength, leading through solid strength is better than leading through all small.  These guidelines are for use in the absence of a signal/bidding from partner.
~  In 3rd seat play/win the lowest card of a sequence; you deny possession of the immediately lower touching card/honor.
~  Playing high-low in the trump suit shows 3 cards, not an even number, as it does for the side suits.
~  If faced with a choice of giving a ruff-sluff or leading away from an honor into a tenace, prefer the ruff-sluff if leading into the tenace might establish the whole suit
~  In NT, if declarer is marked w AJx behind your long suit headed by the KQ, if your top 2 spot cards (including the one partner led) will beat declarer’s small card, play your side’s smallest spot card that will force the J; declarer is forced to take the J or settle for a single stopper in the suit.  You’re giving partner (with a doubleton) a chance to continue the suit when he gets in
~  When declarer is running dummy’s long suit to discard losers, if you hold a trump, generally, you should ruff in as soon as possible to cash your side’s winners
~  If you’ve opened the bidding showing a true suit and on opening lead partner leads a different suit, don’t cloud your thinking by being annoyed.  Ask yourself why?  If LHO showed strength in your suit, that might be your answer.  If not, the lead is probably a stiff.  If not attempting to win the trick, your duty is to give suit preference.
~  In a suit contract with an 8-card fit, a trump lead often presages a 3-2 break
~  When it’s the trump suit you’re defending, there’s no urgency in splitting your honors—unlike a side suit—because you can always split them later.  However, if you need to get in quickly, split your honors immediately.


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