Play the Honor From the Short Hand First

When you don’t have the small cards you need for leading to the honors in the opposite hand you have a “blocked” suit. This can easily happen if you do not play the honors from the short hand first.

Which honor cards should I win with first?


If you have honor cards in both hands in a suit then the hand which holds the shortest number of cards in that suit is known as the “short hand.” The short hand in another suit may be in the same or the other hand. “With the Diamond suit below in declarer’s and dummy’s hand – the long suit is in declarer’s hand because there are 3 cards, and there are less in the short hand in that particular suit.

The Problem

When you have honors in the opposite hand in this case in dummy’s hand, if you just played your Ace and King of Diamonds straight off, the Queen of diamonds would be ‘dropped’ and you would just have the losing 3 of diamonds. If you first off led the 3 of diamonds to the Queen of Diamonds and then used the 2 of diamonds to return to declarer’s hand, you can make three winning trick in this suit


♦ Q 2

the short hand is here


♦ A K 3

the long hand is here

The Rule

With only two diamond cards in the dummy, you must take care in how you play your three honor cards. To avoid problems, play the honor (the Q♦) from the short hand first.

The Solution

Which card do you play first from declarer’s hand?
Holding  the A♦,K♦ & 3♦  to win three diamond tricks.
If you play so that the Q♦ wins the first trick and then lead dummy’s 2♦  to win the second trick in declarer’s hand. With the lead in declarer’s hand, you can continue with your third diamond honor.  
If instead of playing your cards this way and you decided to lead out the honors from the long hand first – on the play of the A♦, you follow suit with dummy’s small card and on the next trick, your K♦ will drop dummy’s Q♦ .  Then you could win only two tricks from your three honor cards.

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