Setting up Long Suits

When have a long suit you are always trying to make the small cards into winners, this is called establishing your small cards.

How can I make my little cards into winners?

The Problem

When you are working with your long suits you are always trying to make the small cards into winners.
In order to do this  you must have enough side suit entries to the hand with the suit which you are trying to establish.
You should always count your own holding and the oppositions holding in the suit as they play them so that you know when the small cards have become good (this is called being established). Keep leading your long suit at the same time counting how many cards there are still outstanding in this suit. The opposition will keep leading other suits so you must be able to win in these side suits enough times to draw out all of your opponents holdings in the long suit you are trying to establish.

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The Solution

To develop 3 more winning tricks you will need to plan your play. Your weakness is in the Club suit if East leads clubs you will lose all 5 club tricks.
Your best chance of developing extra tricks is usually in your longer suits.

The contract is 3NT. Your partner  lays down this hand and you see that  together have  only 6 winning tricks (without losing the lead). You need to develop another three winning tricks in order to make your contract. How can you do this?


♠ 10 9 8
♥ A 6 5
♦ K J 9 7
♣ 6 5 3

This hand only contains 1 certain winner- the Ace of hearts


♠ 4 3 2
♥ 9 8 4
♦ Q 3
♣ A 10 8 7 4


♠ 7 6 5
♥ Q J 7
♦ A 8 5 2
♣ Q J 9

East on lead will probably lead a Spade as it is his strongest suit


♠ A K Q J
♥ K 10 3 2
♦ 10 6 4
♣ K 2

5 winners – 4 spade and 1 heart winner. KH is a winner as Dummy has the Ace of Hearts

The thinking

You and dummy combined hold seven cards in both the heart and diamond suits. Your chances of creating extra trick is greater in these longer suits as you can lead these suits on more occasions. With this in mind we will examine our two seven card suits.

Hearts In hearts you have two certain tricks but you would like the 10 of hearts to become a winner as well, giving you 3 heart tricks from your current holding. For this to happen we need both the outstanding Queen and Jack of hearts to be in East’s hand (dreams are free!) so that after we lead a low heart from dummy and if East does not play the Queen or Jack declarer then plays the 10 of hearts. If East plays either the Jack or the Queen then declarer will cover with his King of hearts, and if East plays high the second time declarer plays the 2 of hearts. In this instance with the hearts being split 3-3 between East and West if you then just play the Ace and King of Hearts, the 2 of hearts becomes a winner as well (so 4 winning heart tricks) but distribution like this only occurs 30% of the time when there are 6 cards outstanding
Diamonds In diamonds the Ace and Queen are outstanding – you would like to have the king jack and 10 of diamonds as winners.If there are two outstanding honors in a suit 60% of the time they are split, if this is the case you are hoping that west has the queen so that you can cover with your King. If west plays low you will play the 9 of diamonds from dummy, however if west plays the queen you will cover with the king and east has to use the Ace to win a diamond trick.

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