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Card Sense

  1. If any player has made a limit bid you can calculate their high card points
  2. Use the auction to make your best guess about the distribution of the cards
  3. Whenever a player does not follow suit you can calculate the distribution of that suit

Where are the missing points?

Card Sense in Bridge

In the first hand, West leads a spade against your 3NT contract and East takes the first four spade tricks with the SAKQJ.

East passed despite holding the ♠AKQJ and with another Queen would probably have opened the bidding. Therefore, West almost certainly has the missing Queens so you can finesse West for the Q and your 9th trick.

Card Sense in Bridge

On the second hand, you are in a contract of 4!h. This time East did open the bidding. West leads the !sA and you have 9 tricks with a club finesse as your best chance of a 10th. But which way to finesse clubs?

Where did East get the strength for an opening bid despite missing the !sA. East almost certainly has the !cQ to make an opening bid. After drawing trumps, finesse East to coolly make your contract.

Remembering the cards played

Card Sense in Bridge
The third hand is the hardest and the result seems like magic, but you'll see how to remember the cards played if you take your time.

West leads the !hA and then a diamond. Take three rounds of diamonds West discards on the third round. West started with 2 diamonds and East started with 5.

Play one round of hearts and then cross to dummy with a spade and play the last heart. This time East shows out so you know East started with 2 hearts and West must have started with 6.

Now cash the rest of your spade tricks. West followed to the first round of spades a couple of tricks earlier but discards on the second round. That means West started with 1 spade and East started with 5.

Hey! West started with 1 spade, 6 hearts and 2 diamonds and you know that for sure. West must have started with 4 clubs to add up to 13 so East must have started with just one club.

Cash the ♣K in case East's club was the singleton !cQ. East plays low on the first round of clubs so you finesse West for the missing !cQ and you are 100% certain to make your contract.

Better Finessing

Are your finesses working 50% of the time? Let's improve that percentage!

Here's the hand for you to play yourself.

Card Sense in Bridge

Practice Hands

Here are some more hands to practice hand visualization in bridge.

Ignore the auction and look at the 4♠ contract. We'll have no problem making this hand with ten sure tricks.

Let's look at the club suit. Suppose, after we draw trumps, we focus not he club suit. We're missing clubs. So, if we play three rounds of clubs and everyone follows suit, that means our last club is a sure winner. This simple calculation is a lot simpler than keeping track of every card that is played, trick by trick. Let's give it a try!

Card Sense in Bridge

When it comes to practicing counting in bridge, the boring hands are best because you get to focus on building up a picture of the missing cards without getting bogged down in declarer play technique.

Not every hand can be a slam hand. We are all bound to play our fair share of boring hands. But sometimes, if you look close enough, the best lessons can be found from a boring hand!

Take this hand, for example: we only have 7 HCP and our opponents quickly bid up to 5. It might seem like this is a hand where all we can do is follow suit, but wait! This is a perfect hand to practice your detective skills.

When East trumps the second round of clubs, we get some really important information. How many clubs did East start with? Only one.

So, how many clubs must partner have started with?

A few rounds later, we'll have all the clues we need to visualize the shapes of all four hands. It isn't easy to do at first, but all the clues are there to visualize the hands. Can you?

Card Sense in Bridge

When you get a "boring" hand, don't just follow suit and deal the next hand. This is the perfect chance to practice finding the clues to see the shape of the unseen hands.


Norwil898 says:
Hi Guys. Thanks am very impressed at the amount of effort you put into card play. A good player stands a better chance of winning against someone who just learns lots of conventions. Keep up the good work.
Norwil898 says:
Hi Graeme. Northern Ireland Bridge Union are modernising their website. Have you any objections to me putting a link to your website. I start teaching schoolchildren again in a few weeks. They are aged around 14/15. I would like to include some of your card play stuff in what I teach. Is that ok too. Norman
I like the way the Learn section is developing but on the Card Sense page the following text shows “When it comes to practicing counting in bridge, the boring hands are best because . . . ” The boring hands link is faulty. ☹ Cheers!
Hi. When I tried to play practice hand after finessing lesson, went straight to the next hand on skybridge play. Can you fix ? My finesses do not seem to work when I try in 'normal play'.
Hi. Tina suggested that I logout then log in to see how to play practice hand for finessing from the video that Graeme did. Sorry to say it didn't work, the next hand came up from the sequence of the last time i had played skybridge games. Hopefully I have explained the situation. Heatherte1
Hi. The counting 'play' hand worked fine. Thanks
Goodness, feel silly but when practicing the 'boring' it has been rotated. I couldn't play N-S.
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