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Part 2 of the "Taking More Tricks" module.
We saw in the video how you can make winners out of small cards when you have long suits. It’s easy enough to see which suits between your hand (as declarer) and dummy’s have the most cards but what if you have two long suits to choose from?
Let’s just look at two suits, spades and hearts, as examples and ignore the cards in the other two suits for now.
|North (dummy||♠ K Q T 9|
|♥ K J T 8 6 4|
|South (declarer)||♠ J 8 7 3|
|♥ Q 9|
You have eight cards in both suits, and in both cases you will win the rest of the tricks in the suit once your opponents have won their ace, but the hearts are a much better suit to play. Why? Once the ace is gone you will be able to win five tricks in the dummy because you still have five cards left in the suit. In spades, because you have four cards in each hand, once you have played one from each hand to drive out the ace, you will only be able to win three tricks. You can see how having the extra length in one hand makes the suit more valuable.
When you are planning to set up a long suit, be sure that you can get back to the hand that contains it to play your winners. This is something most bridge players learn the hard way - by making mistakes. Sometimes this means thinking about whether you have a winner in another suit that will let you get the lead back in the right hand and sometimes it’s about the order in which you play the cards from your long suit. Look at this example:
|North (dummy||♠ A J T 9 8|
|South (declarer)||♠ K Q 3|
Suppose you have this spade suit with all the top cards between your two hands but you have no other high cards in dummy in any of the other suits. If you start out by playing the ace from dummy and the three from your hand you are stuck! Now you only have the king and queen left in your hand. You can win those two but you can never get back to dummy to take your other winners. You have turned five tricks into three! This is called ‘blocking the suit’. To avoid the problem, you must play the high cards in the shorter holding first and keep a small card to take you to the longer holding. In our example, you should win the first and second tricks in the suit with the king and queen, playing small cards from dummy, then play the 3, allowing you to win in dummy and carry on playing the suit. This is a tricky concept, but once you have seen it happen a few times you will soon get the hang of how to unblock your suits.