SWOT stands for (an analysis of) strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats. There are four "fields" and yes, four suits.

Here's an example from this deal, which came up in today's New York Post. West opened 1 diamond, South doubled (takeout), and later bid 4 hearts after North's (forced) response.


KQxx              xx
xx                xx
AKQTx             xxx
xx                KT9xxx


The trump suit is solid, that is a strength. There are two diamond losers, that's an obvious weakness. With seven trump tricks and two black aces, the club suit an represents opportunity for the 10th trick the QJ together are worth one trick. The spade suit is the threat, you don't want a spade loser.

After south ruffs the third diamond, he should lead the jack of clubs to either steal a trick or force out the king. He then wins any return, draws trumps in dummy, and leads the Q of clubs to discard his low spade.

But South played A, then J in clubs, and went down when East won and led back a club for West to ruff.

Does SWOT analysis make it easier to focus on where the "problem" lies in the hand?

3 Answers 3


Sort of, I certainly think people do something like this when they first look at their hands (even if they don't call it SWOT). Also analyzing play for a squeeze covers many of the SWOT areas if you squint hard enough (though interestingly threat cards aren't a threat)

  • strength = your squeeze card
  • weakness = your threat cards (possibly also communication cards)
  • opportunities = the squeeze itself/opponents discard under your squeeze card
  • threat = the opponents busy cards

And I'm sure many other areas of play will also be mappable to SWOT. I suspect that this isn't covered more as we generally have much mores specific methods to analyze a hand for different situations


On the hand as given, declarer should draw trumps (ending in South) after getting in with a diamond ruff at trick three, and only then attack clubs. You could call this part of a SWOT analysis, as the possibility of a defense club ruff is a threat here, and there is no benefit to risking it. Then the club A followed by the Jack gives the slight extra chance of the king falling singleton, and assures that either the club Q or J will win a trick.


I would say that SWOT could be a good way to introduce planning the play at trick one. However Threats comes before Opportunities. You have to appreciate the threat before you decide how to nullify it.

Strengths: Your top tricks, trump controls, high card controls.

Weaknesses: immediate losers, slow losers, poor trumps

Opportunities: methods of generating extra tricks (very wide range here) and methods of disrupting the defence (hold-ups, blocking, etc)

Threats: Where is the danger hand? What happens if there is a bad break? Can we neutralise it? - cue Opportunities.

Of course as declarer your SWOTs are much more obvious than when defending.

Strengths: high cards, favourably placed cards, length in declarer or dummy's suit. shortages in certain suits.

Weaknesses: finessable honours, even breaking suits, potential squeeze cards, squeezable hand

Opportunities: setting up defensive tricks, ruffing, removing entries, forcing declarer, killing the menace, deceptive discards

Threats: Long suits in dummy, being squeezed or endplayed - cue opportunities,

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