Notrump trick-taking techniques


Overview

You are playing in Notrump, but you do not have enough sure tricks. How can you develop more tricks to make your contract?


There are 3 primary methods:

  1. Finesse

  2. Length

  3. Promotion

(These methods are also viable in suit contracts once opponents are out of trumps)


Finesse

When finessing, you are hoping that a certain card is with a certain opponent.


North: AQ7

West: K84 East: JT96

South: 532

If you play the A, then the Q, you only take one trick (with the A).


Instead, you should lead from South towards the AQ7. What can West play? If West plays low, you can win the trick with the Q. If West plays K, you win with the A and your Q will be “promoted”.


Note that had East held the K, you would not be able to score the Q, so a standard finesse has a 50-50 likelihood to succeed.


Length

When you have a long suit, you can set up your smaller cards once your opponents do not have any more in that suit.


AK765

QJT 98

432


You have two sure tricks (A & K). After playing the AK and then a third one, your opponents can win but will have no more cards in the suit and your last two cards are winners. Thus, you created two extra tricks.


Promotion

You can develop winners by driving out your opponent’s high cards.


KQJ

A32 T976

854


After you play the K, your opponent can win the Ace whenever they want, but the other two honors in dummy will win 2 tricks. This is called “driving out” or :knocking out” the opponent’s Ace.

Examples:

1.


Contract: 6NT

Opening Lead: West leads the ♠T.


Dummy: ♠Qxx ♥xxx ♦AKQJ ♣xxx

Declarer: ♠AKJ ♥KQJ ♦xxxx ♣AQJ


You count 3 spade winners, 0 heart winners, 4 diamond winners, and one club winner. You can establish two more heart tricks after the ♥A is knocked out (promotion). You can hope to score your ♣QJ through finessing; lead from dummy towards the ♣AQJ.


2.


Contract: 3NT

Opening Lead: West leads the ♠T.

Dummy: ♠Jxx ♥Jx ♦Axx ♣AQJxx

Declarer: ♠AK9 ♥Qxxx ♦Txx ♣xxx


You count two spade winners, one diamond winner, and one club winner.


If you cover the ♠T with the ♠J. If East has the ♠Q, East must cover with it. However, that will promote your ♠9. If West has the ♠Q, the ♠J will hold. So, in total, you will always have 3 spade tricks.


You can find the rest of the needed tricks in clubs. Finesse the clubs and hope West has ♣K. Furthermore, hope that clubs split 3-2; after you play three round of clubs (AQJ), your last two cards will become winners (length)


As shown in the examples, you will likely utilize all three techniques in a hand, sometimes even in the same suit, to maximize your chances of making the contract.

Practice Quiz

https://forms.gle/H6eEXTDeNDzbeeQg9


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