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Try These Card Combinations by Eric Kokish

Beverly Kraft
Beverly Kraft

These series of article were written by Eric Kokish and his wife Beverly Kraft.

Whether you’re an expert or a social player anxious to improve your game, there is no substitute for good technique. The overall plan for a particular hand will depend on a variety of factors and may change as more evidence becomes available. The approach to a given card combination may also vary from deal to deal, but the starting point in each case is the correct percentage play. Although this can be worked out the table, some calculations are usually required. It is much better to do some studying to build up your data bank, familiarising yourself with many basic combinations and their close relatives.

 Let’s try a few combinations. Assume that you have no entry problems.

West           East
a) AJ32     10654
What is the best play for two tricks?

b) 543        K109
What is the best play for one trick?

c) 543        AQ52
What is the best play for two tricks?

d) K932      AJ54
What is the best play for three tricks? four tricks?


a) Cash the ace and lead low to the ten, catering to KQxx and singleton honour in either hand. The three-two breaks are irrelevant. You need only two winners.

b) Play low to the ten and then low to the nine if no honour appears from North.

c) Cash the ace and then duck a round completely, but if the West hand is concealed, lead low away from the ace first; South might err by rising with the king. In either case, lead low toward the queen on the third round. You will make two tricks when North has the king, when the suit breaks three-three, or South has the singleton or doubleton king, and when South misreads the position and plays his king too early with four cards headed by the king.

d) For three tricks, cash the ace and lead toward the king-nine. If South follows low play the nine; if South shows out play the king and lead toward the jack. This caters to Q10xx in either hand. If the suit is three-two, you will always have three tricks. The best play for four tricks is low toward the jack on the first round. This caters to the singleton queen in North (you will win the ace, cash the jack and, if necessary, finesse the nine). If South has the singleton queen you will lose an extra trick but then you could never have taken four tricks in the suit.


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