Counting Sure Tricks in Bridge After the Dummy Comes Down

By Eddie Kantar

The old phrase “You need to know where you are to know where you’re going” comes to mind when you’re playing bridge. After you know your final contract (how many tricks you need to take), you then need to figure out how to win all the tricks necessary to make your contract.

Depending on which cards you and your partner hold, your side may hold some definite winners, called sure tricks — tricks you can take at any time right from the get-go. You should be very happy to see sure tricks either in your hand or in the dummy. You can never have too many sure tricks.

Sure tricks depend on whether your team has the ace in a particular suit. Because you get to see the dummy after the opening lead, you can see quite clearly whether any aces are lurking in the dummy. If you notice an ace, the highest ranking card in the suit, why not get greedy and look for a king, the second-highest ranking card in the same suit? Two sure tricks are better than one!

Counting sure tricks boils down to the following points:

  • If you or the dummy has the ace in a suit (but no king), count one sure trick.
  • If you have both the ace and the king in the same suit (between the two hands), count two sure tricks.
  • If you have the ace, king, and queen in the same suit (between the two hands), count three sure tricks. Happiness!

Below, your final contract is for nine tricks. After you settle on the final contract, the play begins. West makes the opening lead and decides to lead the ♠Q. Down comes the dummy, and you swing into action, but first you need to do a little planning. You need to count your sure tricks.

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Looking for nine sure tricks is your goal.