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Contract Bridge
LESSON 2
Making tricks with a Trump Suit
  1. Making tricks with Trumps
  2. Opening Leads in a Trump Contract
  3. Self Deals 9 - 12
  4. Scoring Trick points in a Trump Contract
  5. Major and Minor Suits
  6. Finding a Trump fit
  7. Self Deals 13 - 16
  8. Quiz - Answers
  9. Bidding Guide : BG-14

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BR 2.1 - Making tricks with Trumps

During the auction (see Lesson 4 onwards) a mode of play ('contract') for a Deal is determined by the players.
This can be a

  • No Trump contract where the tricks are played without a trump suit, or a

  • Trump contract where the tricks are played with a designated trump suit.

The following examples show how a trump suit can be used to win tricks in a trump contract.


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Example 1
In the adjacent example Hearts is the designated trump suit.

North leads a Spade.
East and South follow suit, but West has no Spades left in his hand and is therefore permitted to play a trump card instead. He wins the trick with the 2 of Hearts.

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Example 2
Hearts is again the trump suit.

North leads a Spade and East follows suit.
In this example both South and West have no more Spades in their hand and are allowed to play a trump. Now the highest trump wins the trick. In this case it is West's 7 of Hearts.
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Example 3
Hearts are again trumps.

North leads a Spade and East follows suit.
Again both South and West have no more Spades in their hand and are allowed to play a trump.

South plays the Jack of Hearts.
West can not beat this card (all his trump cards are lower than the Jack). He discards therefore a useless card (2 of Clubs), and let South win the trick.

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BR 2.2 - Opening Leads in a Trump Contract

The card play in Trump contracts is significantly different from making tricks in No Trump contracts.

brilrqs.gif High cards are usually still winners, but the small cards of long suits have little chance of winning a trick in the early stages of play while there are still trumps left in the game.
Therefore leading fourth highest from your longest suit (although still possible) becomes a low priority choice in Trump contracts.

In Trump contract aggressive leads to establish high cards as winners quickly is usually a top priority, but only if you have the right card combination for this.

Good opening leads are :

  • Top of a Solid Sequence (three cards in sequence, Ex. 1 below) - always an excellent lead both in Trump and No Trump contracts.

  • King from A K x (x) (Ex. 2) - this will give you a 'free look' at Dummy's hand (see Lesson 4 and onwards) and also lets your Partner know that you hold the Ace in that suit as well. Only lead the Ace from A K when it is a doubleton.

  • Top of touching Honours (two cards in sequence, Ex. 3) other than A K - still a good aggressive lead if you can not lead one of the two options above.

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In Trump contracts it can also be a good idea to lead one of your short suits : suits in which you only hold one (singleton) or two (doubleton) cards.
The objective here is that after the suit has been played for one or two rounds (tricks) you can win following tricks in that suit by playing a trump (ruffing).

Good leads in trump contracts (provided you hold some trump cards) are :

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BR 2.3 - Self Deals 9 to 12

Deal and play four games in Trump mode.

  • Self Deal 9 : Spades are trumps - Dealer and Opening lead by North.

  • Self Deal 10 : Hearts are trumps - Dealer and Opening lead by East.

  • Self Deal 11 :Diamonds are trumps - Dealer and Opening lead by South.

  • Self Deal 12 : Clubs are trumps - Dealer and Opening lead by West.

If you can, select an opening lead from one of the five options above.
When you practise with four players each player keeps his/her cards in his/her hand throughout the play.

  • When you practise by yourself follow the instructions in Lesson 1.4a

  • When you practise with two or three players follow instructions in Lesson 1.4b



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BR 2.4 - Scoring Trick points in a Trump Contract

Scoring in Contract Bridge is based on the winning tricks made after the first six tricks have been won.

Trick points after the first six winning tricks are awarded as follows.
  • Spades - 30 points for each trick.

  • Hearts - 30 points for each trick.

  • Diamonds - 20 points for each trick.

  • Clubs - 20 points for each trick.
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If one side wins a total of 7 tricks in a Trump contract of Spades or Hearts, the winning side is awarded
        (7 - 6 = 1)   > >   1 x 30 points = 30 trick points.

If one side wins a total of 10 tricks in a Trump contract of Spades or Hearts, the winning side is awarded
        (10 - 6 = 4)   > >   4 x 30 = 120 trick points.



If one side wins a total of 7 tricks in a Trump contract of Diamonds or Clubs, the winning side is awarded
        (7 - 6 = 1)   > >   1 x 20 = 20 trick points.


If one side wins a total of 10 tricks in a Trump contract of Diamonds or Clubs, the winning side is awarded
        (10 - 6 = 4)   > >   4 x 20 = 80 trick points.



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BR 2.5 - Major and Minor Suits

From a scoring (and therefore winning-) point of view it is obviously better (if there is a choice) to play in a trump contract of Hearts or Spades where you receive 30 trick points per winning trick, than a trump contract in Diamonds or Clubs where you receive only 20 trick points per winning trick.

Hearts and Spades are therefore called the major suits

Diamonds and Clubs are called the minor suits

GAME contracts
When a contract scores 100 or more trick points it is called a Game contract.
When a Game contract is both bid in the auction (see Lesson 4 and onwards) and made during the play it is awarded (300 or more) extra bonus points, resulting in a higher total score.
The minimum number of tricks required for a Game score contract are :


ContractTricksTrick points
3 No Trumps 9100
4 Spades10120
4 Hearts10120
5 Diamonds11100
5 Clubs11100

The above Table shows that a Game contract in No Trumps, Spades or Hearts requires 1 or 2 tricks less than a Game contract in Diamonds or Clubs. There is therefore a strong preference in bridge for playing in NT or in one of the two major suits.


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BR 2.6 - Finding a Trump fit

After playing a few deals in a trump contract you will quickly come to the conclusion that having more trumps then the opposition gives you a significant advantage in the play.

One of the two important objectives you have to find out during the auction period (see Lesson 4) is whether you and your Partner have a trump fit in one of the four suits.

A trump fit consists of 8 cards or more in the same suit in the combined hands.

If you and Partner together only have 7 cards in a suit this is only one card more than the Opponents. Not much of an advantage.
But when you hold 8 cards together in one suit the Opponents have only 5 cards in that suit which on average are divided 2 - 3 in the two opposition hands. This is a good advantage to make that suit your trump suit.

Here are some typical examples.
In Example 6 North and South have a 4 - 4 trump fit in the Spades suit.

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In Example 7 North and South have a 5 - 3 trump fit in the Hearts suit.

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In Example 8 North and South have a 4 - 4 trump fit in both Spades and Diamonds.

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Although the Diamond suit is the strongest in terms of high card holding, always prefer to play in the major suit (in this case Spades). You will win more trick points with the Spades as trumps, and the Diamond suit will contribute its winning tricks anyway no matter which suit is trumps.

Also, no matter how good a player you are, you will always lose three tricks : Ace of Spades and Ace and King of Hearts. Making 10 tricks in Spades will constitute a Game score, but making 10 tricks with Diamonds as trumps will not.



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BR 2.7 - Self Deals 13 to 16

In the following four Self Deals each side may in turn select a trump suit (or select No Trumps).
Do not show your hand to your Partner, but ask how many cards he has in a suit, and find out that way if there is a trump fit or not. If not it is best to play in No Trumps (unless one of the suits is divided 6-1 or 7-0).

Self Deal 13 - N & S select a trump suit Dealer is North Opening lead by East
Self Deal 14 - E & W select a trump suit Dealer is East Opening lead by South
Self Deal 15 - S & N select a trump suit Dealer is South Opening lead by West
Self Deal 16 - W & E select a trump suit Dealer is West Opening lead by North

A good playing strategy for the trump declaring side usually is to draw all enemy trumps first as soon as they gain the lead. After that they have control of the game with the remaining trump cards, while the Opponents have no trumps left.


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BR 2.8 - Quiz 2

  1. Which card wins the trick in a Trump contract ?

  2. When is a player allowed to ruff with a trump ?

  3. Is a player forced to play a trump if he can not follow the suit lead ?

  4. Name three aggressive opening leads in a Trump contract.

  5. Name two opening leads which may set up ruffing tricks.

  6. Why is the opening lead of "fourth highest of your longest suit" usually not such a good lead in a Trump contract ?

  7. Select your opening lead for a Trump contract in the following hands.
    In all cases Hearts is the Trump suit

    1. S - Q J 10 4     H - 9 4 3     C - A J 9     D - K J 3

    2. S - A Q 7 3 2     H - A 10 9     C - J 9 7 5   D - 9

    3. S - A J 4 2     H - 7 6 4     C - K Q 3   D - A 3 2

    4. S - Q 9 7     H - K 9 5 2     C - 9 5   D - A Q 3 2

    5. S - Q J 3     H - 7 6 3     C - K J 5 2   D - A K 3 2

    6. S - A 3     H - 9 7 6 3     C - K J 5   D - Q 10 3 2


  8. What is a 'Game score' ?

  9. How many trick points are awarded to the following results.

    1. winning 8 tricks in a Heart contract

    2. winning 7 tricks in a Diamond contract

    3. winning 11 tricks in a Club contract

    4. winning 9 tricks in a No Trump contract

    5. winning all tricks in a Spade contract

  10. What is a 'Trump fit' ?

Answers to Quiz 2


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Copyright © 2006 Michael Furstner (Jazclass). All rights reserved.