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Tip No. 18

Lawrence on Declarer Play

The tips listed below are taken from Mike Lawrence's excellent Computer Program " Counting at Bridge".

1) Always consider the quality of your opponents.

2) Before playing to trick one, try to plan the play of the entire hand. When dummy comes down, try to figure your partner's high card count and approximate distribution.

3) Play your cards so that the opponent's learn as little as possible about the outstanding honor cards.

4) "Hiding" a spot card is often effective declarer play. Following suit with your next to lowest card makes the defenders uncertain where the lowest card is, and they may draw incorrect inferences if they each expect their partner to hold it.

5) When you have a guess to make in the play, gather as much information as possible before making that guess. When trying to guess the location of any particular card, remember the bidding - including initial passes and the final 3 passes. Always get as much information as you can afford to before making a choice.

6) When trying to get help deciding how to play a critical suit, first play on the suits where you have no options. You may get important information.

7) Do not forget about negative inferences. Often, when a positive inference is not available, a negative one may clarify the hand for you. An example is that if the opening lead is NOT from a suit where the opponents hold both the Ace and King you may presume the honors are split, or at least that your LHO does not have them both.

8) West leads a card that wins the trick. If declarer wishes West to continue the suit, he should play a higher card than East. If he wants West to shift to another suit, he should play a lower card than East. (Ed. note - see no. 4 above).

9) The Principle of Restricted Choice says (among other things) that with 4 cards to the Queen-Jack outstanding, if an Opponent plays an honor on the first round of the suit, his partner has the other honor (a 67% probability). (Ed. note - this is an important but little understood principle. Most players play to drop the other honor, but if a finesse is available it is now a 67% play ).

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