Reading Your Opps Cards (Solutions)



by Ed Scerri – The play of the cards

Hand 1


Q 10 7
A K 2
J 10 5 4
10 3 2


9 8 3
Q J 4
A K Q 3
A J 4


The contract is 3NT by South.

How do you play if:

a) There is no opposition bidding and West leads 7.

b) There is no opposition bidding and West leads A then switches to 7.

c) West opens 1 and leads 7.


a) The percentage play is a Spade to the 10, which wins if West holds either A & J or K & J. The alternative of leading toward the Q only wins if West holds A & K.

b) West has the King of Spades, so lead up to the Queen.

c) You are only missing 13 points and West has opened, so must have Ace & King of Spades. Therefore lead up to the Queen.

 Hand 2


A K 8
K 10 2
J 4 2
A 7 6 5


J 10 9 7 3
A Q 6
9 5 3
K 10


The contract is 4 Spades by South.

How do you play if:

a) There is no opposition bidding and West leads Q .

b) There is no opposition bidding and West leads 6 .

c) East opens 1 Club, and West leads Q .


a) Cash one top Spade in dummy then cross to hand and finesse against West for the Queen ( better than 50% chance as opposed to playing to drop Queen which is worse than 30%).

b) West would not lead a Spade from Q x x , so play for the drop.

c) You are missing 15 points of which West has already shown 2. As East opened the bidding, he/she is likely to hold the rest of the points, so play for the drop.

 Hand 3


K Q 4
10 8 6
8 7 6
K Q J 4


A 10 9 8 2
7 3
A 10 8 3


South is declarer in 4 Spades, after West opens 1 Heart, and East raises to 2 Hearts.

West leads A, K, and 2 with East playing 5, J and Q . You ruff the third round, and draw trumps ( East having started with J 5 3 ).

How do you proceed, and why ?


West has opened the bidding with 7 points in Hearts, none in Spades, and none in Clubs. He/she may or may not have the Diamond Queen, but most certainly does have the Diamond Ace. It is therefore hopeless to lead a Diamond to the King, but a Diamond to the Jack may succeed.

 Hand 4


9 2
10 6 4 2
J 8 2
A Q J 2


A 7
A K Q 9 5 2
Q 10 5 3


West opens 1 Spade, which East raises to 2 Spades, you overcall 4 Hearts, West bids 4 Spades, and partner bids 5 Hearts, where you play.

West leads 6 to East’s K, and you win with the A. Trumps break 2-1 (with West having singleton J).

How would you proceed, and why?


There are17 points missing, and East has shown up with Spade King (and Jack by inference), and the Heart Jack. It is almost certain that West has everything else for the opening bid, so finesse against Club King and throw Spade loser on Club Ace.

 Hand 5


7 2
8 5 3 2
K J 8 2
K Q 4


A 5 3
A K Q 8 6
7 3
J 9 5


There is no opposition bidding, and you become declarer in 4 Hearts.

West leads Q, which you duck, then J, which you win.

You then draw trumps in two rounds, and ruff your third Spade (East following with the K).

How would you proceed, and why ?


Each defender has shown 3 points so far. After drawing trumps, play on clubs to find out who holds the Ace, whichever it is, play the other hand for the Diamond Ace, as if the same hand held 3 points in Spades as well as two Aces, he/she may well have intervened in the auction.

This play ( a discovery play) is not guaranteed, but is better than flipping a coin.

 Hand 6


K Q 5 2
6 2
K J 9
Q 10 3 2


A J 10 9 4
9 4
Q 7 5
K 9 4


After West opens with 1Heart, and East raises to 2 Hearts, you intervene with 2 Spades and unfortunately, partner takes you seriously and bids 3 Spades which ends the auction.

West leads 4 and East plays K.

What are your early thoughts on how to play this contract ?


This is an extreme example of how card reading can help your play. At trick one, you are able to place every important card with absolute certainty.

The lead of the Heart 4 to the King places both the Ace and King with East, as West would not underlead the Ace . Also, if West held Queen and Jack, he would have lead the Queen, so one of these cards must be with East, and if East held AKQ, he would have won the first trick with the Queen, so he must hold AKJ specifically.



A 5 3
A 9 6 2
J 6 4 3
Q 6


J 8 2
K J 10 5 3
A K 10
10 2


You are playing in the final of the Gold Cup, and end up as declarer in 4 Hearts, after West has opened 1 Spade, and East has responded 1 NT.

This contract is somewhat ambitious, but you judge that you are behind in the match, and are in need of a big ‘swing’.

West leads 6, which runs to West’s K, and he returns 9.

It’s time to put all your ‘card reading’ skills to good use.

How would you play, and why.

Note: This hand is in fact taken from the gold cup final of many years ago, and the entire match hinged on the success or failure of this contract.


West has made a somewhat dangerous lead from a suit headed by the Queen. The chances of West having the Ace & King of Clubs is very small, otherwise that lead would be much more attractive.

We can therefore infer that East holds the Club King (or Ace) and we know he holds the Spade King.

As there are only 17 points missing, it is reasonable to assume that West has everything else, so don’t take a doomed Diamond finesse, hope that West has a doubleton.

First finesse against West’s Heart Queen (retaining a trump entry to dummy) then cash A & K of Diamonds, and when the Queen falls, continue with the 10, then cross to dummy with a trump, and cash J of Diamonds, thereby making your contract, and winning the Gold Cup !