Social Lesson 10 – Bridge Declarer Play, Part 1, Look-alike Hands

After several episodes on major suit bidding, let’s take a break and turn our attention to declarer play.  Early in our Bridge career we learned the three principal ways to earn extra tricks: ruffing, finessing and suit promotion.   We will start of this series of lesson episodes focusing on 3 Notrump contracts – after all, everyone loves making a game bonus!  Fair enough, so that narrows our play strategies to promotion plays and finessing.

As soon as the Left Hand Opponent faces their opening lead, it’s time for our fearless declarer to put on their thinking cap and orchestrate their aggregate resources to seize nine or more tricks.  While 25-26 points is usually enough to make our beloved 3 Notrump beloved game contract, the pesky opponents are making plans of their own to set the contract.  They too, would love to promote their long suit and/or garner enough finesses to make 5+ tricks and set declarer’s contract.

In this lesson we will highlight how to evaluate our winners and losers, differentiate slow and fast tricks, evaluate the probabilities/odds of common play tactics based on suit splits and outstanding High Card Points, experience the benefits of hold-back plays, witness a sleepy defender and the consequence of not “splitting honors,” paying careful attention to maintaining entries into distant hand and more.

We will start off slowly bidding and playing an easily attainable contract with 30-31 points between the dummy and declarer hand (hopefully not exploring slam which requires 33 points).  Then over the next 10 hands the declarer will have to earn their keep, playing an onslaught of 25-26 point hands.  And while they may look similar and in some cases be the same, the defenders hands will change and require varying tactics to bring home the contract.  Better yet, we will witness some defender plays offering “gifts” during errant play – better to watch the transgressions here before heading to the table with your partner!  And as always, we will entertain you with hand variations to underscore valuation with illustrative bidding examples with lots variations including animated card play and commentary.  Of course here at BridgeHands, the proof of the pudding is in the eating and as always you’ll see lots of action playing hands at the table!

So sit right up and tune in to our BridgeHands videos!

Premium and ULTRA members are welcome to enjoy the three-part lesson segments (part 2 is 46 minutes, split into Part 2a and 2b).   Additionally, be sure to check out the hundreds of hours of videos in our archive by clicking “Index to Videos” on the navigation above or simply click this link.

Part 1 – Introduction to declarer play – for all audiences – click here to view 28 minutes of video

Premium and ULTRA Members click here to view Part 2a with 6 hands and 24 minutes of video

Premium and ULTRA Members click here to view Part 2b with 4 hands and 19 minutes of video

Premium and ULTRA Members click here to view Part 3 with 4 hands and 18 minutes of video

Happy Trails,




  1. mickeymoose2 says:

    To-day, I have renewed my subscription to your most excellent ‘BridgeHands’ internet site.

    I am 78 years of age and now live alone. Your informative ‘Polls’ are very addictive, but as a mere ‘novice’ to the game of bridge, I wonder if you offer a ‘cheat-sheet’ for SAYC biddings. This would enormously help me when contesting my fellow internet opponents.

    Thank you and good health to ‘BridgeHands’ and to all those who work on it.

    Joseph Green

    • BridgeHands says:

      Hello Joseph,
      Great – glad to hear you are enjoying our videos. Regarding the SAYC system (Standard American Yellow Card), many years ago the American Contract Bridge League developed a handy convention card that was pre-populated with common methods. While we do not have an abbreviated “cheat sheet” on our main BridgeHands website (not the blog with videos) we do have a comprehensive write-up of the SAYC card here:
      Warm Regards,

  2. 7276dave says:

    Thanks Michael,
    It really helps us out here in Bridge Land to get into the mind of an expert and work through the logic.
    Looking forward to the next episode.

    • BridgeHands says:

      Hello Dave,
      Thank you for the thoughtful feedback and look forward for more episodes and we refine 2/1 methods and review the need for partnership agreements based on subtle style differences in a few areas.
      Happy Bridge Trails,

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