Learn | Defence | Rule of 11

Rule of 11 in Bridge

The Rule of 11 is a technique you can use for calculating the location of unseen cards in the suit that has been led when the opening lead was the 4th highest.
  1. Subtract the value of the card led from 11 to give the total number of higher cards
  2. Count the number of higher cards you can see in dummy and your own hand
  3. Declarer will have the rest!
bridge example hand

You are South and partner leads the 7 against West's 3NT contract. How can you use the rule of 11?

Step 1 - Subtract the value of the card led from 11

Partner leads the 7 so you subtract from 11 which leaves 4.

Step 2 - Count the number of higher cards you can see

You can see three cards higher than the 7 in your hand and one card higher than the 7 in dummy for a total of 4.

Step 3 - Calculate how many cards declarer has that are higher than the one led

There are 4 cards higher than the 7 in your hand, dummy and in declarer's hand. Three are in your hand, 1 is in dummy. That means declarer has no cards higher than the 7. You can let partner's 7 hold the trick and keep your Ace to cover dummy's K.

4th highest leads and the rule of 11

The rule of 11 only works when the opening lead was 4th highest. Let's take a look at a hand to see what that means.

bridge example hand
This time you're on lead against 3NT and you've chosen to lead a heart. Simply count down from the Ace. Ace = 1st, Q = 2nd, 7 = 3rd and the 5 = 4th highest. The 5 is the card to lead!