You’re declarer, the lead card has been played, the dummy hand is exposed, now what? How do you play the hand to make your contract?
*Note: If you are playing BBO online, you can input these hands using your account, for playing with friends, while social distancing.
If you’re a beginner, perhaps you’ve made this statement: “Why should I bid 3NT when it’s easier to make 2NT?” I hear something like that every time I teach a new group of bridge players and it always makes me smile because it’s so predictable. I understand why they say it. Their confidence is not very high and they do not have that much experience playing the hand, so it’s more comfortable for them to make it easier for themselves. I used to do the same thing when I started playing bridge. My reasoning was: Why challenge myself when it’s easier to keep the bidding lower and make the contract? That way, there’s less chance of failing.
One of the difficulties for beginners is knowing how to play the hand well. When they’ve bid correctly, found their best suit or NT, and reached the level determined by the total point count (where they should be), and don’t make the contract, they conclude that they bid too high. Not necessarily. Their success is often the result of how the hand is played. Once newer players learn how to play better, they will gain more confidence in their bidding as well.
After the bidding is finished, the opening lead is made and the dummy hand is shown, the declarer should do their best to make that contract. Occasionally, they won’t be able to; that happens, but lots of times they can, if they just take a little bit more time to concentrate and think very carefully before they play the hand. Accept the challenge to make that contract! Start by counting winners in a NT contract or losers in a suit contract. If there aren’t enough winners or there are too many losers, then you need to figure out where you can find those extra tricks before you play the first card from dummy.
In response to many requests from my readers, I have created three sets of practice games which incorporate strategies and tips for the playing of the hand. Each set has 12 games, which is enough for a session of about three hours of playing while allowing time to review the bidding and the playing. When I teach these lessons, I show the two bidding hands on a Power Point and lead my class through the steps of bidding, analyzing the opening lead, counting winners or losers, and then deciding on a strategy to make the contract. Then they play the hands. If you are learning on your own or with a small group, you could go over the bidding and playing strategies before playing each game or, instead, bid and play the game and then review to see if you’ve followed the recommended bidding and applied the strategies that will help make the contract. There’s a lot to learn when playing bridge!
Part 1 (12 games) focuses on finesses, the order of play, entries to dummy and other strategies. Part 2 (12 games) focuses on using length, discarding and ruffing losers and other strategies. Part 3 (12 games) focuses on order of play, ducking winners, ruffing losers and other strategies. After learning and applying these strategies, players should have a better chance of bidding and making their contracts. These games are similar to my other practice games, except that they focus more on the playing rather than the bidding, though both are important.
Here’s a sample: Sample – Bid and Make Your Contract – Part 1 – Board 4
The three sets of practice games are available for a cost of $15.00 (US). You can pay with PayPal or a credit card. Click on the “Buy Now” button below.
Once payment is received, I will send you the password via email so you can download them from my website (bottom section of right-hand side menu). If, for any reason you do not receive an email from me in a day or so, please contact me (firstname.lastname@example.org) and tell me that you have not received the password. Otherwise, I might not know there was a problem. ($15 US)