How to Play the Short-Side Honors First in Bridge

When playing bridge, never forget this simple and powerful rule: When attacking an unequally divided suit, where either your hand or the dummy holds more cards than the other in that suit, play the high equal honors from the shorter side first.

This technique enables you to end up in the long side, where the remainder of the honors, and therefore, the remainder of the tricks, are located. If you remember to play your equal honors from the short side first, your partner will kneel down and declare you Ruler of the Universe.

Even if you don’t want to be Ruler of the Universe, just remember “short-side honors first,” and you’ll know what to do when faced with cards like those shown in this image.

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Liberation time! The short hand (your hand) has two equal honor cards, the KQ. You’d play this suit by following these steps:

  1. Start by playing the ♠K, the higher honor on the short side, and a low spade from the dummy, the ♠5.

    As it happens, East must take the trick with the ♠A because she doesn’t have any other spades. You’ve established your spades because the ♠A is gone, but you still need to remember the five-star tip of playing the high remaining equal honor from the short side next.

  2. Play the Q, which takes the trick, and then lead the ♠4.

    The dummy remains with the ♠J109, all winning tricks. You’ve established four spade tricks by playing the high card from the short side twice.

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