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Declarer Play The Bergen Way


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Chapter 6 :Tricks of the Trade ........................................ 63


Chapter 7

Life in Notrump

© 2004 - Marty Bergen

Page 75
Life in Notrump

The Rule of 11

When you think that your opponent has led 4th-best, you should subtract the value of the card led from 11. The difference represents the number of higher cards in the other 3 hands (excluding the opening leader).

Do not lose sleep trying to figure out why this works; just accept it. The following points are also worth knowing about the Rule of 11:

  1. It does not apply when an honor is led.

  2. Contrary to popular opinion, the Rule of 11 does apply in suit contracts, as long as the opening lead is fourth-best. The opening lead in a suit contract will often be made from a short suit, so declarer must proceed with caution.

  3. The Rule of 11 "works" on any 4th-best lead, but high spot cards yield a lot more specifics about declarer’s RHO’s cards than lower cards.

  4. The Rule of 11 applies on any 4th-best lead, not just the opening lead.

The Rule of 11 doesn’t help the opening leader, but the information is crucial to his partner. Declarer can also benefit from the clues supplied by the Rule of 11. If he is alert, sometimes he can have the last laugh.

You’re now ready to apply your Rule of 11 skills.

© 2004 - Marty Bergen

Page 76
Life in Notrump

A Good Time to Say No to Second-Hand Low

After a non-honor opening lead is made in a notrump contract, declarer’s first thought should be to apply the Rule of 11. This will occur more often in notrump, where short-suit leads are virtually non-existent.

The following deal illustrates how declarer can use the Rule of 11 to make his life easy. After the 6 is led, what card would you play from dummy at the first trick?

Contract: 3NT
J 8 2
K J 8
Q 8 5
A 10 7 3


A K 6
A Q 5
9 7 3 2

Q J 4

West   North   East     South

  --         --        --         1NT

Pass      3NT    All Pass

© 2004 - Marty Bergen

Page 77
Life in Notrump

Did you figure out that East has no club higher than the six? 11 - 6 = 5. Declarer and dummy account for five clubs greater than the six; thus, East cannot possibly beat dummy’s 7.

You must win the first trick with the 7, and save your honors for later. Then it’s easy to enter the South hand in hearts and finesse clubs. Eventually you will win four club tricks, regardless of when West plays his king. Along with two spades and three hearts, you will have four club tricks and your contract is in the bag.

If you carelessly played the 3 from dummy at the first trick, you’d have to waste an honor from your hand to win the trick. The club position would be:

A 10 7
  K 9 8 2   --
    Q 4  

© 2004- Marty Bergen

Chapter 8 :Entry Problems in Notrump ........................... 83

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