Best Way to Make Maximum Tricks
In pairs play it is important to get as many tricks as possible. It is not much good making 10 tricks in 4 spades when everyone else is making 11 tricks! Care is needed in the play of the cards to make the most of the opportunities to score the maximum number of tricks possible. Take the following common suit distribution:
A 9 7 2 Q 8 6 5. (The small cards can be anything from 2 to 9)
Can three tricks be made with this distribution? Yes, as long as the opposing distribution is
3 – 2. So how should it be played? Certainly not by leading the Queen. In this case you will only ever be able to win 2 tricks, and if the distribution is 4 – 1 then you will only be able to win one trick, even if the King is under the Queen. The best chance is to lead the Ace and then small towards the Queen. If the King shows up on your left then your Queen lives to fight another day and you make the maximum number of tricks possible. If the King does not pop up on your left then it is best to play small with the hope that the King was doubleton on your right, in which case your queen wins the next round. There are obviously many distributions where it is not possible to make more than two tricks, but you want to take the opportunity when you can where your good play furnishes three tricks.
Even if the 8 in the above distribution is replaced by the Jack, so having Q J 6 5, it is still better to play the Ace and lead towards the Q, J, playing low if the King appears on your left or the Jack if another card is played. This will guarantee three tricks even if the left hand opponent has four cards of the suit. If the right hand opponent has four cards of the suit, bad luck, there is nothing you can do about it.
If however the Jack is with the Ace, so having A J 7 2 then the Jack should be finessed on the first round. If this succeeds then play the Ace, hoping to drop the King doubleton. If this succeeds tot up four tricks, which will be one more than those who led the queen!
There is nothing certain about any of this. It all depends on the distribution. To see how best to deal with different distributions take out a suit from a pack, layout the cards as above and then try out the various distributions of the rest of the cards. Probably ignore the 5 – 0 possibility, but work through the various 4 – 1 and 3 – 2 combinations.