How to Take Sure Tricks in Bridge
3 of 7 in Series: The Essentials of Playing a Hand of Bridge
Depending on which cards you and your bridge partner hold in a hand, your side may have some definite winners, called sure tricks. Sure tricks are those that you can take at any time right from the get-go. But having sure tricks is only half the battle; taking those sure tricks is the other half.
Starting with the strongest suit
When you have enough sure tricks between the two hands to make your contract, you don’t have to take the tricks in any particular order. However, a reliable guideline to get you off on the right foot is to start by first playing the cards in your strongest suit (the suit that offers you the most tricks).
In the case of the hand shown here, start by playing diamonds.
Say that West’s opening lead is the ♠Q. Say that you take the trick with the ♠A, and now the lead is in your hand. You then take your four diamond tricks (♦AKQJ), and then you can take three more heart tricks by playing the ♥AKQ. Finally, you take your ninth trick with the ♠K. Your opponents take the last four tricks. No big deal — you’ve taken nine tricks and made your contract.
Taking sure tricks in unequally divided suits
Strong suits are a good source of tricks — the stronger, the better. If strong suits are unequally divided between the two hands but have equal honor cards in both hands, play the high honor from the short side first. The cards in the following example show you the advantage of starting with the short-side honor cards:
In the example shown here, you decide to play spades, an unequally divided suit. You also (smartly) decide to play the high honors from the short side (your hand is the short side because you have three cards to dummy’s four cards). Play the ♠A and then the ♠K. You remain with the ♠2, and the dummy has two winning tricks, the ♠QJ. Lead your ♠2 and take the trick with the dummy’s ♠J. The lead is now in the dummy, and you can take a fourth spade trick with the ♠Q. You have just added four tricks to your trick pile. There’s no stopping you now!