Guide 9QC8 by Richard Pavlicek
Card play techniques are divided into two main groups: (1) Notrump Feasible if they can occur at notrump, and (2) Trump Dependent if a trump suit is required. Note that Group 1 techniques can also occur at suit contracts (with rare exceptions) provided the trump suit has no special role. Each group is divided into categories, and techniques in each category are ordered approximately by complexity. Techniques named in italics are judged to be too remote for practical benefit. Some categories have a separate listing for anti techniques, i.e., plays to counteract a technique in that category.
Each diagram shows the technique for North-South in its simplest form (2-7 tricks) and the number of tricks N-S must win (goal). South is always on lead unless an opponent is required to lead, then West. If there is a trump suit, it is always spades.
Essential plays are shown, pursuing the most likely path if variations exist. Key plays are followed by an exclamation point (!). If West is on lead, a question mark (?) after the lead means its a losing choice for the ending but likely in practice and forced for the technique.
To better understand the mechanics of each technique, diagrams may have one or two labels:
|auto||(automatic) Same technique* works with the East-West hands switched|
|auto?||Goal is achievable with East-West switched but by a different technique|
|bi||(bidirectional) Same technique* works with the opposite hand on lead|
|bi?||Goal is achievable with opposite hand on lead but by a different technique|
|re||(reciprocative) Squeeze card ( A) may be in the opposite hand|
|not||Goal is impossible with best E-W play (technique only offers a chance)|
|not?||Goal is achievable after Wests forced lead but not after Wests best lead|
*or simply winning any trick possible if the case becomes trivial
Diagrams involving squeeze plays follow a uniform structure to aid interpretation:
|Term||Suit or Card Rank|
|Threat suit||Spades (downward as needed)|
|Winner||Ace (downward as needed)|
|Threat card||Highest partnership non-winner in suit|
|Essential card||Four (upward as needed)|
|Idle card||Two or three|
|Squeeze card||A (or A if in trumps)|
An idle card opposite the squeeze card ( A) is usually shown in clubs as an aid to identify reciprocative positions. This makes the ending bidirectional by definition. If the idle card were instead in a threat suit, the ending is usually not bidirectional.
Defining a technique is arbitrary. Some basic tenets have been excluded: (1) Cashing winners, e.g., you wont find how to play A-x-x opposite K-x-x for two tricks, (2) second hand low, (3) third hand high, and (4) fourth hand winning a trick when able. These might be considered the default strategies of card play, akin to following suit. Situations in which they should be violated are the techniques that need to be included.
No attempt is made to distinguish which technique might be correct on any given occasion. For example, the Finesse category does not profess when and when not to finesse an exhaustive study in itself subject to many factors but only the available techniques.
Deceptive play is ignored. Almost any technique could be applied as a psychological bluff, and trying to identify such cases could land you in the nut house fast. No problem! Plenty of room in my ward.
© 2014 Richard Pavlicek