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.





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