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Early on, before bidding systems were elaborated in bridge, "quick tricks" provided something of a guide to bidding. For instance, people might open hands with a configuration of AKxxx Axxx xx xx, which had 11 high card points using the Work Count, but pass a hand of Kxxxx Qxxx Qx Ax, which had the same 11 points. The thing in favor of the first hand was that it had three sure "quick tricks."

Suppose I am sitting East, defending a 3NT contract (neither vulnerable, South bid 1NT, North 3NT). West leads a 6 that looks like fourth best (and an examination of my hand and dummy suggests that West probably has a fifth card). I have Axx in the suit, and a side ace, that is two "quick tricks" with 8 high card points. So I win the trick, and lead back a low card, hoping that West has the king, or at least the queen. South plays the king, so I take my side ace at the first opportunity, and lead back my last card in West's suit to his presumed queen. That is what I would call "fast" play, based on my quick tricks.

Suppose, instead, I am sitting East (possibly with the same dummy as in the first example), but I have xxx in West's suit; no help for him. I have eight high card points, distributed in the three side suits as (xxx) Kxxx QJx Qxx. In this latter case, I have no quick tricks, and I play "slowly," trying not to give anything away.

So can "quick tricks" be a useful guide to a defensive posture, as between say, active and passive, or fast and slow defense?

  • 2
    Here's a shortcut for you that is better than Quick Tricks: Dummy's length, whether 2 or 3 cards, is more important than the identity of your card when partner has 5 cards to your 3. (I leave it as an exercise for the reader as to why - as why is of vital importance.) The placement of any visible 8, 9, T, or J is also more important. Once you learn to count the hand all these become self evident. ***Nothing is more important to becoming an intermediate Bridge player than the incessant habit of counting the card; all the cards; all the time. – Forget I was ever here Sep 22 '18 at 22:58
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    Form of scoring matters. How many points dummy shows up with, and therefore, how many points partner has, matters. Whether your secondary honors sit over dummy's or under declarer's matters. Whether dummy has long suits to run, and whether you can stop them (or are short enough to think partner might be able to stop them) matters. Count. Picture the possible hands declarer can have and hence partner can have. Count some more. Figure out how declarer might be able get 9 tricks, and how you might be able to get 5. Figure out if you just assumed an impossible lie. Count some more. – Alexander Woo Sep 23 '18 at 1:04
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No - primarily because the spot cards are never irrelevant. (Assume standard leads here for simplicity, though similar inferences are available for all lead agreements.)

For instance if you hold Ace three times and partner has led a (presumed 4th best) 8 spot, partner holds the King as well. Partner also holds exactly one Quack (Queen or Jack).

Read that again.

Why you ask? Because partner isn't holding three honours with two contiguous (He would have led the higher of the two contiguous honours in that case), and that leaves only the following possible holdings

  • KQ98x
  • KJ98x

With any of the following holdings the best lead is another card:

  • KQJ8x => K should be lead
  • KQT8x => K should be lead
  • KJT8x => J should be lead
  • QJT8x => Q should be lead
  • QJ98x => Q should be lead
  • KT98x => T should be lead
  • QT98x => T should be lead
  • JT98x => J should be lead

If partner has lead the 7-spot and you can see the 8-spot in your hand or dummy (or played by declarer to the first trick) all the same inferences are available with appropriate substitution. Likewise if partner leads the 6-spot and the 7- and 8-spot are both visible. Or if partner leads the 5-spot and and the 6-through-8 show up by trick one.

You now know where 3 of partner's point are, guaranteed, on a hand where partner doesn't have many points apparently because you have 7 or 8 (your Ace in his suit and another possible early entry). You are almost ready, before trick one is over, to know Declarer's entire hand.

These situations are all identified by having a Rule-of-Eleven-Count (value of spot-card led plus count of visible higher spots) of eight with Ace seen in your own hand.

Count; count again; and again; until it becomes an obsession. Visualize the possible holdings around the table, and vet them against the information available from the bidding and play so far. Only when these inferences start to become second nature to you will you be a competent intermediate-level player.


Note that as third hand in these situations, you know more about the distribution around the table than Declarer does. That is the Defenders' Advantage, and typically only lasts a couple of tricks. Now is when you can lay a ruse for an unsuspecting Declarer.

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