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Declarer's Play Of No-trump








The Declarer will find that he is obliged to use different tactics when
playing a No-trump from those he employs when a Trump has been named.
In the former case, his main object should be to establish his long
suit or suits, and to shut out those of the adversary. When he has the
Ace (without any other stopper) of an adverse suit, unless there be
some other he fears more, he should refrain from playing the Ace until
the third round, or until sure that the partner of the long hand has
exhausted his holding of that suit. The reason for this is obvious. If
the holder of the long suit can be kept from the lead, the suit will
not be made. He may be without a reentry, so it is important that his
partner be unable to put him in by leading that suit. In this case, the
Declarer should take any doubtful finesse, which he has the opportunity
of taking either way, so that, if it lose, the holder of the long suit
will not be in the lead.

The Declarer should postpone as long as possible leading a suit of four
cards in one hand and three in the other, headed by Ace, King, and
Queen, but not the Knave, unless he be afraid of a long, adverse run
which will force him to awkward discards. The reason is that, should
either of the adversaries be long in that suit, three rounds will
establish for him one or more cards which otherwise would not be made
good. Leading even two rounds will be a warning not to discard from
that suit. It should, therefore, be avoided, except for the purpose of
placing a lead, until the other strength of the Declarer is exhausted,
or until it becomes evident that, when next he loses the lead, the
adversaries will control the situation. Then, and not until then,
should he lead such a suit with the realization that, having postponed
its establishment as long as possible, he has adopted the most probable
method not only of shutting out adverse long cards, but also of making
an extra trick for himself.

While the probability of establishing an adverse trick is not nearly so
great when the Declarer has four cards of such a suit in each hand, it
is still possible, and the method of handling it above advised, when
the total holding is seven, should be followed even with eight. A
thoughtless Declarer who has nothing to fear from an adverse run will
often as soon as he gets in (and before he establishes some suit that
demands attention) start with a suit of this character. Such tactics
sometimes cost a declaration--sometimes a game; yet the thoughtless one
rarely appreciates his folly.

An example may make this more evident:--

DUMMY DECLARER

Spades X, X Ace, Queen, X

Hearts Ace, X, X, X King, Queen, X

Diamonds X, X Ace, Queen, X

Clubs Knave, 9, X, X, X Queen, 10, X, X

The 2 of Spades is opened, and the Declarer wins the first trick with
the Queen. He now has assured two Spade, three Heart, and one Diamond
tricks, with a chance of one more in both Hearts and Diamonds; six sure
and eight possible, without the Clubs. If he establish his Clubs, he
can make 3 tricks in that suit, which will insure game.

If he open his Hearts, he may establish one or more for the adversaries
and thus give up all chance of the game, as he is at best practically
sure to lose two Spades and two Clubs.

It is impossible to gain any advantage by running the four Hearts
before the Clubs, even if they all be good; in other words, it is a
play which may cost the game and cannot by any possibility gain
anything whatever.

When the Declarer holds a suit long in both hands, headed by the three
top honors, two in one hand and one in the other, it is wise to win the
first trick with one of the honors of the hand which holds two; this is
apt to be beneficial in the event of an adversary refusing or having a
singleton.

The Declarer, even when he has bid a light No-trump and received little
assistance, should play with confidence. His adversaries do not know
the flimsy character of his declaration, and will credit him with more
powerful cards than he really holds. Even experienced players seem to
feel that a No-trump declaration is entitled to greater respect than it
deserves when made with the minimum strength which conventionally
authorizes it. A clever player will frequently capture the odd with
such a declaration, merely because the adversaries do not realize his
weakness.





Next: Declarer's Play Of A Suit Declaration

Previous: General Play Of The Declarer



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