Declarer strategy toolkit

THIS TABLE provides a very brief summary of various declarer card-play strategies that can be tried in various situations. Hope it helps!

When... Try...
Short of winners in suit contract

Ruffing – ruff using short trumps before playing trumps

Dummy Reversal – when dummy’s trumps are strong enough consider ruffing repeatedly in hand to create more trump tricks

One opponent can hurt you if they gain the lead
Avoidance Plays – choose between drop, finesse and ruffing finesse options based on where trick would be won, or duck a trick entirely into the safe hand
One opponent holds stoppers in two suits and you are one trick short
Squeeze – Rectify the count by losing other losers so you need to win all remaining tricks, then play your winners holding one or more potential winner threats in the hand after the targeted opponent forcing him to discard first, normally involving an entry to other hand to allow a one of many possible threats to be realised
Short of honours in trump suit
Compulsory Duck – identify, by counting and inference, where missing A or K is held and play trumps to play up to this hand on second trick and then duck (ie play low) hoping for doubleton
Onside opponent shows two more trumps than dummy
Trump Reduction Play – reduce trumps in hand to match those in opponent’s hand and put lead in dummy or opponents for second last trick
You need opponents to lead a suit
Strip & Throw-in – strip or eliminate safe exit cards for opponents by exhausting your and dummy’s holdings in suits other than the one you want the opponent to lead, watch discards to enable you to throw in the right opponent
When it looks impossible to make contract
Playing on Assumption – identify the most likely card placement that will allow you to make your contract and play consistently according to this placement (this is particularly relevant to teams scoring)

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