~Rule of 7

If you suspect that LHO has led from a five-card suit against your NT contract, and you hold a single stopper in that suit, you can determine the number of times to duck in the led suit so as to eliminate that suit from the RHO’s hand.

Add the number of cards in the subject suit held by you and dummy. Subtract that total from seven and duck the indicated number of times.
S 7654
H 2
D A96
C Q5432

Declarer (S)
H A765
LHO leads the heart Q against you 3NT contract. You plan to finesse diamonds and do not want any hearts left in the East hand that could be led if the finesse loses. You play the 2 of hearts from dummy and note that East plays the 3. You suspect that East holds an odd number of hearts, probably three, which would place five hearts in the West hand. With five cards in hearts in the N-S hands combined, you duck hearts twice, then take your A and lead the Q of diamonds. Whether the finesse wins or loses, you have at least nine tricks—two spades, one heart, 3-4 diamonds, and 3+ clubs (do not block access to dummy for the third club trick.

Note that you made a safety play in hearts to guarantee your contract. If the diamond finesse works and clubs split 3-3, you could have taken 12 tricks by winning the first heart. However, the odds favor the safety play you made; you cannot take less than nine tricks and may win as many as 11.

Note also that if both West and East held exactly four hearts, they can only take three hearts and one diamond even if the diamond finesse fails.

One Response to “~Rule of 7”

  1. Gilda Says:

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