Advice To Players

In the choice of a suit two objects are to be aimed at: first, to select the suit in which the combined forces have the best chance of making tricks; secondly, to select the trump so that the value of the suit agrees with the character of the hand, i.e. a suit of high value when the hands are strong and of low value when very weak. As the deal is a great advantage it generally happens that a high value is to be aimed at, but occasionally a low value is desirable. The task of selection should fall to the hand which has the most distinctive features, that is, either the longest suit or unusual strength or weakness. No consultation being allowed, the dealer must assume only an average amount of variation from the normal in his partner's hand. If his own hand has distinctive features beyond the average, he should name the trump suit himself, otherwise pass it to his partner. It may here be stated what is the average in these respects.

As regards the length of a suit, a player's long suit is rather more likely to be fewer than five than over five. If the dealer has in his hand a suit of five cards including two honours, it is probable that he has a better suit to make trumps than dummy; if the suit is in hearts, and the dealer has a fair hand, he ought to name the trump. As regards strength, the average hand would contain ace, king, queen, knave and ten, or equivalent strength. Hands stronger or weaker than this by the value of a king or less may be described as featureless. If the dealer's hand is a king over the average, it is more likely than not that his partner will either hold a stronger hand, or will hold such a weak hand as will counteract the player's strength. The dealer would not generally with such a hand declare no trump, especially as by making a no-trump declaration the dealer forfeits the advantage of holding the long trumps.

Declarations By Dealer

In calculating the strength of a hand a knave is worth two tens, a queen is worth two knaves, a king is worth a queen and knave together, and an ace is worth a king and queen together. A king unguarded is worth less than a queen guarded; a queen is not fully guarded unless accompanied by three more cards; if guarded by one small card it is worth a knave guarded. An ace also loses in value by being sole.

A hand to be strong enough for a no-trump declaration should be a king and ten above the average with all the honours guarded and all the suits protected. It must be a king and knave or two queens above the average if there is protection in three suits. It must be an ace or a king and queen above the average if only two suits are protected. An established black suit of six or more cards with a guarded king as card of entry is good enough for no trumps. With three aces no trumps can be declared. Without an ace, four kings, two queens and a knave are required in order to justify the declaration. When the dealer has a choice of declarations, a sound heart make is to be preferred to a doubtful no-trump. Four honours in hearts are to be preferred to any but a very strong no-trump declaration; but four aces counting 100 points constitute a no-trump declaration without exception.

Six hearts should be made trumps and five with two honours unless the hand is very weak; five hearts with one honour or four hearts with three honours should be declared if the hand is nearly strong enough for no trumps, also if the hand is very irregular with one suit missing or five of a black suit. Six diamonds with one honour, five with three honours or four all honours should be declared; weaker diamonds should be declared if the suits are irregular, especially if blank in hearts. Six clubs with three honours or five with four honours should be declared. Spades are practically only declared with a weak hand; with only a king in the hand a suit of five spades should be declared as a defensive measure. With nothing above a ten a suit of two or three spades can be declared, though even with the weakest hands a suit of five clubs or of six red cards will probably prove less expensive.