Teacher's Manual

Learning the rules

Session 1.3: Identifying and planning the tricks

Session program

  • Winner cards
  • Visualizing and identifying
  • Planning the tricks

Start the session reminding your pupils one of the special features of bridge which is playing with a dummy. Ask them if they remember which played becomes the dummy and why.

Winner Cards

Explain that the declarer has the advantage of playing with two hands.

But he must know how to make use of this advantage, meaning he has to know how to spot the strengths that will help him make his contract: they are the top cards with which he is sure to win tricks, they are called the winner cards.

We can say that the declarer holds a winner card when the defending side doesn’t hold a highest card in the card suit.

To allow the pupils to properly understand this notion, you will organize a short exercise session, but be careful for it not to exceed five minutes. To make it a success, you will also need to take a certain number of precautions:

  • Don’t use diagrams written on the board (or on a sheet of paper), but only cards placed on the table.
  • Prepare in advance the hands to be studied and place the cards face down on a table.
  • Keep only a limited number of pupils around you, six being the maximum.

If you are two instructors and you have three tables of pupils, you should split them into two groups; both initiators working with the same exercise at two different tables.
And if you are alone, you could suggest the pupils you can’t take care of for the time being to play a randomly dealt hand!

Present the following diagrams by turning up the prepared cards and taking them away at the end of each exercise: have the pupils look at the cards and ask them how many winner cards there is in each case.

  A 8 3
Does the defending side have a card higher than the Ace of Spades?  No, so the Ace is a winner card.
  10 5 2

  K 6 5
Does the defending side have a card higher than the King of Hearts? Yes, the Ace, therefore the declarer’s side doesn’t have a winner card in Hearts.
  7 4 2

  A 8 3
The defending side owns the King of Diamonds which is higher than the Queen of the declaring side; therefore declarer’s side only owns one winner card: the Ace.
  Q 5 2

  A 5 2
The defending side owns the Queen of Clubs higher than the declaring side’s Jack; therefore the declaring side owns two winner cards, the Ace and the King.
  K J 4

  K 7 6
The defending side owns the Ace of Spades higher than the King and the Queen, therefore the declaring side has no winner card.
  Q 9 4

Visualizing, identifying and planning tricks

These notions are tackled cards in hand with the four hands prepared for this session.
Have the pupils play the first hand of the session, as they are probably in a hurry to start. Ask each of them to keep his cards after each trick as we do in tournaments. You will of course need to explain to them how to orient the cards so that they can count their tricks at the end of the hand.

Session first Hand (1.3.1)

Hand 1.3.1 Dealer North

  9 8 6 4
  K 8 7 5
  Q 10
  4 3 2
  J 5
  10 4 3
  A K J 9 8
  8 6 5
  K Q 10 7
  Q J 9
  6 5 3 2
  9 7
  A 3 2
  A 6 2
  7 4
  A K Q J 10

I pass
I pass
I open
I have 5 pts
I play 2NT


West leads the Ace of Diamonds and when he sees the dummy he notices that when he will later play the King, the Queen will drop and all the Diamonds will be winner.
Score : 2NT = : 120 for NS

South’s only problem is to correctly discard. You will only warn him not to discard cards that will later make tricks, but let him choose his card.
At the end of the hand, the pupils write their points on the blackboard, just as they did in the previous session.
Each player takes his cards back, sorts them by suit, places them in ascending order and lays them face down on the table

Warning: in no case will you replay the hand, nor analyze how it went, you are just going to have the pupils spot the winner cards.

North and South turn their cards up and the four players count the declaring side’s winner cards.
It is better not to count the declarer’s winner cards first and then the dummy’s and add them up, but to start with counting one suit and look the declarer’s and the dummy’s cards in this suit, then go to the next suit.

  • In Spades: the defending side does not own a card higher than the Ace; therefore the declaring side has a winner card.
  • In Hearts: the defending side owns no cards higher than the Ace and the King, the declaring side has two winner cards.
  • In Diamonds: the defending side owns the Ace and the King, the declaring side has no winner card.
  • In Clubs: the defending side has no card higher than the declaring side’s cards. The declaring side therefore has five winner cards.

So, the declaring side owns eight winner cards and they should make their contract, provided that they do not discard one of them.

South now picks up his cards and West spreads his hand. Pupils are invited to look for West’s winner cards:

  • In Spades, Hearts and Clubs, no winner cards,
  • In Diamonds, he has two of them: the Ace and the King.

Ask them to look at the dummy’s cards in Diamonds and have them say that once he has played the Ace and the King of Diamonds, the Jack, the 9 and 8 will become winner cards.

You then go on to the next hand, without forgetting to change the declarer.

Session second hand (1.3.2)

Hand 1.3.2     Dealer East

  Q 8
  7 5 4 2
  K J 10
  Q J 10 3
  A K J 10
  J 9 8 3
  7 4 2
  9 7
  9 7 3 2
  K Q 10
  9 8 6 5
  8 6
  6 5 4
  A 6
  A Q 3
  A K 5 4 2

I pass
I open
I have 9 pts
I play 3NT


In 90 % of the cases, West will lead the Ace of Spades. The dummy spreads his hand: everybody is invited to observe the dummy’s hand. West should notice that the Queen of Spades is doubleton in the dummy and that it will drop when he will play his King of Spades. His Jack and 10 of Spades will then be established.
He is therefore going to take the four first tricks.
At the end of the hand, as they are now used to, they will count their tricks and write down the obtained points.
Score : 3NT = : 400 NS

Ask North and South to spread their hand and have them again quickly count the number of winner cards the declaring side owns.
Then West spreads his cards and the pupils count how many winner cards he has got after seeing the dummy.
Of course, you will not comment on the unfolding of the hand and they will not play it again.
You then go on to the next hand just in the same way.

Session third hand (1.3.3)

Hand 1.3.3     Dealer South

  K J 4
  J 10 9
  K Q J 9
  9 5 2
  10 8 3
  A K Q 8 7
  8 2
  10 7 4
  9 7 6
  4 3
  7 6 5 4
  K Q J 3
  A Q 5 2
  6 5 2
  A 10 3
  A 8 6

I open
I have 11 pts
I play 3NT


South opens, and his partner tells him that he has 11 points. South counts a total of 25 points and therefore bids 3NT. West leads the Ace of Hearts and sees the Jack-10 and 9 of Hearts.
So, once he has played the Ace, le King and Queen, the 8 and 7 are now established.
Score: 3NT -1: 50 EW

Session fourth hand (1.3.4)

With this new hand, the pupils are confronted with a new situation: the opener side doesn’t have the majority of points and has therefore to pass.

Hand 1.3.4     Dealer West

  7 5 2
  Q 10 9
  J 10
  A Q 10 9 2
  Q 4 3
  8 7 6 2
  6 5 3
  8 7 3
  K J 10 8
  5 4 3
  A K Q 9
  6 5
  A 9 6
  A K J
  8 7 4 2
  K J 4

I pass
I pass
I open
I have 2 pts
I pass
How many points
do you have?
I have 9 pts
I play 3NT


With his 13 points, East declares that he opens, his partner says aloud: “I have 2 points”.
East counts that the strength of his side is only 15 points. The Decision Table indicates that he has not enough points to play a contract, he therefore bids: "I pass".

It is then South, seated just after East (clockwise), who will decide on a contract as he now knows that his side has a majority of points.
He asks his partner: "how many points do you have? » North answers aloud: "I have 9 points".
With a strength of 25 points, the Decision Table indicates that he can play a 9 tricks contract; South then bids: "I will play 3NT ".
Score: 3NT =: 400 NS