Home | Learn | Remembering the cards played

Remembering the cards played in bridge

Learn how you can use the clues from the bidding and play of the cards for remembering the cards played in bridge. It takes a bit of practice to hold the information in your head, but I hope you'll see that the real trick is not to remember the missing cards, it's to build up a picture of the remaining cards.

  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?

Remembering the cards played  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 !dQ and your 9th trick.

Remembering the cards played  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.

Building a picture of the hidden cards

Remembering the cards played  in Bridge
The third hand is the hardest and the result seems like magic, but you'll see how it's done 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.

Clues from the opening lead

Take some time at the start of each hand to look for clues from the auction and opening lead. The rule of 11 can be used by declarer as well as the defenders to find missing honours.