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Title: Auction of To-day
Author: Work, Milton C.
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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Transcriber's note:

   Minor typographical errors have been corrected without note.




Author of "Whist of To-day"

Boston and New York
Houghton Mifflin Company
The Riverside Press Cambridge

Copyright, 1913, by Milton C. Work
All Rights Reserved

Published January 1913

                THIS BOOK
              OF PHILADELPHIA,


INTRODUCTION                                                     xi

   I. THE DECLARATION                                             1

  II. ORIGINAL DECLARATIONS BY THE DEALER                        15

          The Bid of One No-trump.
          Table of Hands in which the No-trump Declaration
          is Doubtful.
          When to bid Two No-trumps.
          Exception to the No-trump Rule.
          Table of Doubtful Hands illustrating Exception.
          Suit Declarations.
          Various Ideas of the Two Spade Bid.
          The Two Spade Bid.
          The Three Spade Bid.
          When to bid Two in Either Royals or Hearts.
          When to bid Three in Either Royals or Hearts.
          The Two Bid in Diamonds or Clubs.
          How to declare Two-Suit Hands.
          Table of Hands in which a Trump Declaration
          is Doubtful.

 III. SECOND HAND DECLARATIONS                                   60

          Bidding over One Spade.
          When to bid No-trump.
          When to make a Trump Declaration.
          The Double of One Spade.
          The Bid of Two Spades.
          Table of Spade Bids.
          The Bid of Three Spades.
          How Second Hand should bid after an Offensive
          The Shift.
          When to Bid Two No-trumps over One No-trump.
          How to Bid against Two or Three Spades.
          When to Bid No-trump over a Suit.

  IV. THIRD HAND DECLARATIONS                                    82

          When the Dealer has called One Spade, and the
          Second Hand passed.
          When the Dealer has shown Strength, and the
         Second Hand passed.
          When "Two Spades" has been declared.
          When "Three Spades" has been declared.
          When "One Club" or "One Diamond" has been declared.
          When "Two Diamonds" or "Two Clubs" has been declared.
          When "One Heart" or "One Royal" has been declared.
          When "Two Hearts" or "Two Royals" has been declared.
          When to overbid a Partner's No-trump.
          When to overbid with Strong Clubs.
          A New Plan for Overbidding.
          When to overbid One No-trump with Two No-trumps.
          What Third Hand should bid when Second Hand has declared.

   V. FOURTH HAND DECLARATIONS                                  114

          When the Dealer's Defensive Declaration has been
            the Only Bid.
          When the Only Offensive Declaration has been
            made by the Dealer.
          When the Only Offensive Declaration has been
            made by the Second Hand.
          When the Only Offensive Declaration has been
            made by the Third Hand.
          When the Dealer has Made a Defensive, and both the
            Second and Third Hands Offensive, Declarations.
          When the Dealer and Second Hand have made
          Offensive Declarations, and the Third Hand passed.
          When the Dealer and Third Hand have made
          Offensive Declarations, and the Second Hand passed.
          When all Three Players have made Offensive Declarations.

  VI. CONTINUATION OF THE BIDDING                               130

          When to advance the Bid.
          When to overbid the Partner.

 VII. DOUBLING                                                  143

          The Choice between a Game and a Double.
          When to redouble.
          What to do when the Partner is doubled.

VIII. LEADING                                                   158

          How to lead against a No-trump.
          Number-showing Leads.
          The Lead against a Suit Declaration.
          How to lead to a Double.
          Table of Opening Leads against a Trump Declaration.

  IX. THE PLAY                                                  183

          Difference between Play in Auction and Bridge.
          Playing for Game.
          Play for an Even Break.
          General Play of the Declarer.
          Declarer's Play of No-trump.
          Declarer's Play of a Suit Declaration.
          Play by Declarer's Adversaries.
          The Signal.
          The Discard.
          Blocking the Dummy.
          Avoid opening New Suits.
          How to return Partner's Bid.
          The Finesse.
          Table showing when Third Hand should finesse.

   X. SCORING AND SCORE-SHEETS                                  213

          Samples of Score-Sheets.

  XI. THE LAWS                                                  225

          1912 Code of The Whist Club of New York.
          Decisions by the Card Committee of The Whist Club
            of New York.

      SUMMARIZED PENALTIES                                      277

      APPENDIX: QUERIES AND ANSWERS                             279


With so many excellent textbooks now in circulation, it seems almost
audacious to add another treatise to current card literature. It
happens, however, that the game of Auction, or Auction Bridge, as it is
generally called ("Auction Whist" is perhaps a more appropriate title),
has been so completely and so suddenly revolutionized that books
written upon the subject a few months ago do not treat of Auction of
to-day, but of a game abandoned in the march of progress. Only a small
portion of the change has been due to the development of the game, the
alteration that has taken place in the count having been the main
factor in the transformation. Just as a nation, in the course of a
century, changes its habits, customs, and ideas, so Auction in a few
months has developed surprising innovations, and evolved theories that
only yesterday would have seemed to belong to the heretic or the
fanatic. The expert bidder of last Christmas would find himself a
veritable Rip Van Winkle, should he awake in the midst of a game of

The present tourist along the newly macadamized Auction highway has no
modern signpost to guide him, no milestone to mark his progress. The
old ones, while most excellent when erected, now lead to abandoned and
impassable roads, and contain information that of necessity confuses
and misleads.

Beyond doubt, the present game, like other modern improvements, has
come to stay, and with that belief the following pages are offered as
an aid to the thorough understanding of the new order of things.

Until the latter part of 1911, practically all players used the same
count in Auction that had for years obtained in Bridge; namely,
No-trump, 12; Hearts, 8; Diamonds, 6; Clubs, 4; and Spades, 2. The
change was first suggested by the author, and it, therefore, seems only
appropriate that he, having had the good fortune to conceive a system
which has been endorsed by general adoption, should have the privilege
of giving to the Auction-loving public his views upon the most
advantageous methods of playing the game under the new conditions, and
thus possibly help to allay the confusion created by the introduction
of an innovation so drastic.

In this connection, it may be interesting to recall how this new count,
which is now so universally used that it should be called, not the
"new" count, but "the" count, came to be suggested, and why it met with
popular favor.

When Auction first took the place of Bridge as the paramount game in
the club and social life of the scientific card-player of the United
States (just as Bridge had previously superseded Whist), it was but
natural that the Bridge count should be continued in Auction.

Admitting that these values were the best possible for Bridge (and of
that there is considerable doubt in the mind of the player of to-day),
it, nevertheless, did not mean that for the new and very different game
of Auction they would of necessity be the most suitable. It was soon
found that the No-trump was so much more powerful than any other bid
that competition was almost eliminated. With even unusually strong
suits, only occasionally could a declaration valued at 12 be
successfully combated by one valued at 8 or less, and the vast majority
of hands were, consequently, played without a Trump.

The inherent theory of the game of Auction provides for a bidding in
which each one of the four suits competes with each other, and also
with the No-trump. Using the Bridge count, this does not take place.
The two black suits, by reason of their inconsequential valuation, are
practically eliminated from the sea of competitive bidding. The Diamond
creates only a slight ripple, and even the Heart has to be unusually
strong to resist the strenuous wave of the No-trump.

Players in different parts of the country realized that as long as the
Bridge count was used, five bids could not compete in the race, as, due
to unequal handicapping, the two blacks could barely pass the starter,
while the two reds could not last long in a keen contest.

The desire to make the Spade a potent declaration had appeared in
Bridge; Royal Spades, valued at 10, having been played by some
unfortunates who believed that, whenever they had the deal, the fickle
goddess favored them with an undue proportion of "black beauties." As
competitive bidding is not a part of the game of Bridge, that could not
be offered as a reason for increasing the value of the Spade, and to be
logical, Royal Clubs should also have been created. Naturally, Royal
Spades never received any very large or intelligent Bridge following,
but as making the Spade of value was in line with the obvious need of
Auction, as soon as that game became the popular pastime, Royal Spades
(or Lilies, as they were perhaps foolishly called in some places, the
pseudonym being suggested by the color of the Spade), valued at 11 and
at 10, were accorded a more thorough trial.

They met objection on the ground that three Royals, equally with three
No-trumps, carried a side to game from a love score, and, therefore,
while some continued to experiment with Royals, it cannot be said that
they were anywhere accepted as a conventional part of Auction. Finally,
some clever Bostonians suggested that their value be made nine, and
this proved both more logical and more popular.

With affairs in this state, the author determined that it would
materially improve the game to arrange the count so that the various
bids be as nearly as possible equalized, every suit given a real
rating, and the maximum competition created. After some little
experimentation, the very simple expedient now in vogue was suggested.
It makes the game _in reality_ what it previously was _only in name_.

In September, 1911, the Racquet Club of Philadelphia, the first club to
act upon the subject, incorporated in its club code the count of 10 for
No-trump, 9 for Royal Spades, 8 for Hearts, 7 for Diamonds, 6 for
Clubs, and 2 for Spades. Other clubs in this country and abroad slowly
but surely followed, and the card-playing public in its social game
adopted the new plan as soon as it received a fair trial.

Early in 1912, the Whist Club of New York, a most conservative body,
yielded to the pressure, and accepted the new count. Since then, it has
been universally used.

It has been given various names, such as the "new count," which is, of
course, a title that cannot long be retained; the "Philadelphia count,"
which is now inappropriate, as it is played in all parts of the
country; the "game of Royals," which is grossly incorrect, as it is not
a game of Royals any more than of any other suit, and certainly is not
one-tenth as much a game of Royals as the old count was a game of
No-trumps. One writer, who ably advocates the new count, calls the
present game "Royal Auction Bridge," yet frankly admits that No-trump
is still played more frequently than Royals, and Hearts almost as
often. There can be no question that the number of Diamond and Club
declarations has materially increased, so the only apparent reason for
calling the game Royals is the desire for some name to distinguish the
count now used from its predecessor. That, however, is totally
unnecessary. The old, or Bridge count, is a thing of the past--dead and
almost forgotten. The "new" count is "Auction"--"Auction of To-day" if
you will, but unquestionably the best Auction yet devised, the only
Auction now played, and destined to be Auction for all future time,
unless some system be suggested which will create keener competition in
bidding. It is generally conceded that this is practically impossible.

In this book the author does not attempt to drill the uninitiated
player in the intricacies of the game. The rudiments can be learned far
more satisfactorily by watching a rubber, or by receiving the kindly
instruction of a friend or teacher.

In perusing these pages, the beginner will seek in vain to receive such
information as that the 10 is a higher card than the 9; or that the
Third Hand plays after the Second. The reader is supposed to thoroughly
understand the respective values of the cards, as well as the
underlying principles and the rules of the game.

Neither is this book intended for the player who recognizes himself as
an expert and continuously prates of his own ability. Even should he
condescend to read, he would find either "nothing new," or "nothing new
worth knowing." Why, indeed, should he waste his valuable time
considering the ideas of others, when by his brilliant exposition of
his own inimitable theories, he can inculcate in the minds of his
inferiors a new conception of Auction possibilities? Such a player may
at any time confuse a conscientious partner by making an original bid
without an Ace or King, or by committing some equally atrocious Auction
_faux pas_, but as even a constant recurrence of such "trifles" will
not disturb his equanimity, why suggest ideas for his guidance?

The real purpose of this little book is to point out to the moderate
player the system of bidding and methods of play now adopted by the
best exponents of the game, and to advise generally how to produce a
satisfactory result at the end of the rubber, sitting, or season.

Much of the success of an Auction player is due to his ability to
concentrate his entire attention upon the game. If it were possible to
make only a single suggestion to a beginner, the most important point
that could be called to his attention would be the necessity for
concentration. From the moment the first bid is made until the last
card is played, the attention of every player should be confined to the
declaration and the play, and during that time no other idea should
enter his mind. This may seem rudimentary, but as a matter of fact, the
loss of tricks is frequently blamed upon various causes, such as
"pulling the wrong card," forgetting that a certain declaration had
been made, or that a certain card has been played, miscounting the
Trumps or the suit in question, etc., when the lack of complete
concentration is the real trouble.

Success in Auction is indeed difficult, and the player who would grasp
every situation, and capture every possible trick, must have the power
to concentrate all his faculties upon the task before him. No matter
how great his capacity, he cannot do thorough justice to any hand, if,
during the declaration or play, his mind wander. Too often do we see a
player, while the play is in progress, thinking of some such subject as
how many more tricks his partner might have made in the last hand;
whether his partner has declared in the manner which he believes to be
sound and conventional; what is going on at some other table; whether
this rubber will be over in time for him to play another, etc.

When this is the mental condition of a player, the best results cannot
be obtained. If a trick has been lost, it is gone. Thinking over it
cannot bring it back, but may very quickly give it one or more
comrades. As soon as each deal is completed, it should be erased from
the mind just as figures from a slate. In that way only can be obtained
the complete and absolute concentration which is essential to perfect
play, and goes a long way toward securing it.

Auction is beyond doubt the most scientific card game that has ever
become popular in this country. The expert has the full measure of
advantage to which his skill entitles him, and yet the game possesses
wonderful fascination for the beginner and player of average ability.
It is doubtless destined to a long term of increasing popularity, and
it is, therefore, most advisable for all who participate that they
thoroughly familiarize themselves with the conventional methods of
bidding and playing, so that they may become intelligent partners, and
a real addition to any table.




It is well to realize from the start that the declaration is the most
important department of the game, and yet the most simple to master. A
foolish bid may cost hundreds of points. The failure to make a sound
one may lose a rubber, whereas mistakes in the play, while often
expensive and irritating, are rarely attended with such disastrous

      [1] Also known as "the Bid" and "the Call."

Any good player who has to choose between a partner who bids well and
plays poorly, and one who is a wild or unreliable bidder, but handles
his cards with perfection, without hesitation selects the former.

To be an expert player requires natural skill, long experience, keen
intuition, deep concentration, and is an art that cannot be accurately
taught either by the instructor or by a textbook. Bidding has been
reduced to a more or less definite system, which may be learned in a
comparatively brief space of time. Consequently, any one possessed of
ordinary intelligence, regardless of sex, age, temperament, or
experience, may become an expert declarer, but of all who attempt to
play, not more than forty per cent. possess that almost indefinable
characteristic known as a "card head," without which it is impossible
to become a player of the highest class.

The average club or social game, however, produces numerous expert
players, while the sound bidder is indeed a _rara avis_.

The explanation of this peculiar condition is not hard to find. Most
Auction devotees began their card experience with Whist, a game in
which, beyond doubt, "The play's the thing"; then they transferred
their allegiance to Bridge, where the play was the predominant factor;
and now they fail to realize that in their new pastime _the most
important part of the game is concluded before the first card leaves
the leader's hand_.

It must encourage the student to know that he may surely and quickly
become a sound bidder, and that he will then be a more valued partner
than a Whist or Bridge celebrity who does not accord to the Declaration
the care it deserves and rewards.

Many methods of bidding have been suggested; some have been so absurd
that they have not warranted or received serious consideration; others
have been accorded a thorough trial, and found wanting.

The system which is herein advocated is believed to be the most sound
and informatory yet devised.

Before taking up the declaration by each hand, it is important for the
player to realize that with the introduction of the count of to-day,
much of the bidding previously in vogue has, of necessity, passed into
disuse. For example, under the old count, a player, knowing that the
Club suit would never be played and that there was no danger of that
declaration being continued by his partner, very properly called a Club
to show the Ace and King, even when these two cards were the only Clubs
in his hand.

In Auction of to-day, it being possible to score game with any
declaration, a suit cannot be safely called unless it be of such length
and strength that the partner may continue it as far as his hand
warrants. In discussing the subject of Bidding, under the subheads of
DEALER, SECOND HAND, etc., this will be considered more thoroughly, and
it is referred to at this time only for the purpose of pointing out
that informatory bids from short suits containing high cards are no
longer included in the vocabulary of the Declarer.

Another difference between the old and the present game is worthy of
notice. In the old game a marked distinction was drawn between the
color of the suits in the make-up of a No-trumper, it being more
important that the black suits should be guarded than the red. Using
the Bridge count, the adversaries, if strong in the red suits, were apt
to bid, but the black suits, by reason of their low valuation,
frequently could not be called. Black was, consequently, the natural
lead against a No-trump, and therefore, required more protection.

Now, as every suit can be named with practically equal effectiveness,
the color distinction has ceased to exist. The original leader, when
No-trump has been declared, no longer attempts to guess his partner's
strength by starting with a black suit, in preference to a red; and in
bidding one No-trump, strength in one color is just as valuable as in
the other.

When Auction was first played in England, it was believed that the deal
was a disadvantage, that the Declarer should disguise his hand as long
as possible and use every expedient to force his adversary to be the
first to show real strength. This doctrine has been found to be
ridiculous. The premium of 250 for winning the rubber is a bonus well
worth having, and the player who, when his cards justify a bid, unduly
postpones his declaration, belongs to an antiquated and almost extinct

It is now conceded that the best results are obtained by that character
of bidding which gives the partner the most immediate and accurate
information regarding the strength of the Declarer.

There are still the "old fogies" who preach that, as there are two
opponents and only one partner, all information is doubly advantageous
to the adversary. This "moss-covered" idea was advanced concerning the
play in Whist and Bridge, but experience proved it fallacious. In
Auction, its folly is apparent, not only in the matter of the play, but
even more surely when applied to the bidding.

A moment's consideration causes the realization that the declaration
would become an easy task if the exact composition of the partner's
hand were known; it should, therefore, be the aim of the bidder to
simplify the next call of his partner by describing his own cards as
accurately as possible.

True it is that the deceptive bidder at times succeeds in duping some
confiding or inexperienced adversary and thereby achieves a temporary
triumph of which he loves to boast. For every such _coup_, however, he
loses many conventional opportunities, frequently gets into trouble,
and keeps his partner in a continual state of nervous unrest, entirely
inimical to the exercise of sound judgment. Nevertheless, the erratic
one rarely realizes this. He gives his deceptive play the credit for
his winning whenever he holds cards with which it is impossible for
him to lose, but characterizes as "hard luck" the hundreds that his
adversaries tally in their honor columns by reason of his antics, and
is oblivious of the opportunities to win games which he allows to slip
from his grasp.

The difference between informative and deceptive bidding is shown in
the harmony of a partnership. When the former is practised, the pair
pull together; the latter results in misunderstandings and disputes.

It must not be understood, however, that the ability to give accurate
information comprises the entire skill of the bidder. It is most
important that he possess the judgment which enables him to force the
adversary into dangerous waters without getting beyond his own depth.

It is no excuse for a player who has led his partner on to their mutual
destruction to murmur, "I could have made my bid." An early bid being
allowed to become the final declaration is exceptional. Whether or not
it could be made is, therefore, immaterial, but the result it may
produce is vital.

In club circles the story is told of the player of experience, who,
after he had been deceived by his partner's declaration, said:
"Partner, if you were reading the paper to a stranger, you would not
vary a word of even an unimportant item. Why, then, should you, in
describing your thirteen cards, deliberately misinform a trusting

Another exploded idea is that an advantage can be obtained by so-called
"misleading" or "trap" bidding. There are some players who imagine
that, by calling one Spade with an excellent hand, they can induce the
adversaries to believe that the bidder possesses a trickless
combination, and as a result, some ridiculous declaration will follow,
which will give an opportunity for a profitable double. Experience has
shown that in practice this idea does not produce satisfactory results.
Adversaries will not bid to a point where they are apt to be doubled,
except in the face of competition. When the Dealer has called one
Spade, his partner, unless he hold very strong cards, will not
materially elevate the declaration. If both partners have strength, it
is not probable that the adversaries can do much bidding, so that it is
only in the unusual case, and against the inexperienced and unskilled,
that such a scheme is apt to prove successful. On the other hand, it
transfers the advantage of being the first to show strength and abuses
the confidence of the partner. It is a tool which should be employed
only by the Declarer of ripe experience, and he will limit its use to
the unusual hand.

The bidder should remember that part of the finesse of the game, when
partners vary considerably in their respective skill, is to so arrange
the declaration that the stronger player is at the helm most of the
time. A weak player with a strong partner should not jump with undue
haste into a No-trump, Royal, or Heart declaration; but rather, wait
for the partner, and then back up his call. The weak player should also
hesitate before taking away his partner's bid, although of course,
there are many situations which thoroughly justify it, regardless of
the greatest difference in the skill of the players.

The objection to the game of Auction which makes it the subject of the
most severe criticism is the possibility that improper information may
be conveyed to the partner by the manner of making the bid.

After starting to bid, by using the word "one" or "two" there should
never be any hesitation, as that tells the partner that there is more
than one call under consideration. The same comment applies to
hesitation when it is evident to the partner that it must be caused by
a doubt whether or not to double, and the opportunity so to do still
remains with him. An extended delay in passing or bidding one Spade
also conveys an obvious suggestion. It goes without saying that no
honorable partner would avail himself of such information. Being the
unwilling recipient of it, however, places him in an awkward position,
as he must cross-examine himself as to whether any questionable bid or
double he contemplates is in any way encouraged by it. If he have even
a scintilla of doubt, he must pass.

A few principles of bidding applicable to all conditions may be stated
at the beginning of the consideration of the subject.

Adopt informatory and conservative methods.

A good player may bid higher than a poor one.

When your partner fails to assist your bid, do not count on him for
more strength than a Dealer who has bid one Spade.

Any overbid of an adversary shows strength; an overbid of a partner who
has declared No-trump may show weakness.

Overbidding a partner who has declared Royals or Hearts shows weakness
in his suit.

Being without a suit, or holding a singleton, is an element of strength
for a Trump declaration; of weakness for a No-trumper.

When, if you do not bid, the adversary will be left in with a
declaration with which he cannot make game, do not take him out unless
you expect to score game with your declaration.

Do not, by reckless bidding, make the loss of one rubber equal the
usual value of two.

With a love score, it requires three tricks in No-trumps, four in
Royals or Hearts, and five in Diamonds or Clubs, to make game. It is an
exceptional hand in which the Declarer does not lose more than two
tricks. Diamonds and Clubs are, therefore, rarely played in preference
to one of the three declarations of higher value, which are spoken of
as "game-going" declarations.

There is very little declaring to the score in Auction, as the majority
of deals in which the contract is fulfilled score game, so that most of
the time the score is love. In a certain percentage of cases, however,
there is a score, and it affects the bidding to the following extent:--

If it be 2 or more, Diamonds should be treated as Royals or Hearts
would be at love; if it be 6 or more, Clubs should be similarly

If it be 3 or more, Royals, with a holding of five or more, should be
bid in preference to No-trump, even with all the suits stopped, and if
it be 6 or more, Hearts should be similarly treated.

When the score reaches a higher figure, such as 16, for example,
holding five Diamonds, Hearts, or Spades, suit bids should be given the
preference over No-trumpers.

The reason is plain. The winning of the game is the object of the
bidder; when that is in sight with a suit declaration, No-trump should
not be risked unless in the higher declaration the fulfilment of the
contract be equally sure.

The establishment of an adverse suit is the rock which sinks many a
No-trumper. There is little chance of this with a suit declaration.
Therefore, especially when it does not require any more tricks to go
game, the suit should be selected, if the No-trump present any element
of danger.

The state of the score never justifies an original bid which would not
be conventional at love. In other words, while being the possessor of a
score may make it wise for a bidder to select a suit instead of a
No-trump, it never justifies his calling a suit in which he has not
both the length and strength requisite for a declaration with a love

Bidding by the different hands is so varied in its character that each
must be considered as practically a separate subject, and they will,
therefore, be taken up _seriatim_. In all cases where the score is not
especially mentioned, it should be understood that neither side is
supposed to have scored.



The Dealer, in making the initial declaration, obtains a valuable
strategic position whenever his hand justifies an offensive bid
(_i.e._, anything but one Spade); but when he is compelled to assume
the defensive, this advantage passes to his opponents. By any
declaration which shows strength, he materially aids his partner and
places difficulties in the path of his adversaries. A No-trump is
naturally his most advantageous opening.

There are many hands in which the strength is so evenly divided that
the advantage of playing the Dummy enables the player who "gets to the
No-trump first" to make good his declaration, and frequently, in such
equally balanced hands, one No-trump is the only bid that can be made.
One No-trump eliminates all adverse calls of one, and sometimes when
the strength of the opponents is considerable, but divided, results in
shutting out a productive declaration. The Dealer, therefore, whenever
his hand warrants it, should grasp his good fortune and declare his

He should not, however, rashly assume the offensive. There is no way in
which he can more thoroughly deceive his partner, create greater havoc
with the bidding of the hand and cast deeper distrust upon his future
declarations than by using the keynote bid to announce strength which
his hand does not contain.

He must thoroughly understand the conventional declarations, and when
in doubt should bid one Spade, as the damage which is apt to result
from an overestimation by his partner of his winning cards is much
greater than any benefit gained by starting the attack.


The Dealer is justified in basing his declaration upon the assumption
that his partner has one-third of the high cards not in his own hand.
He may, therefore, _bid one No-trump with any holding better than the
average_ whenever he has

    (_a_) Four suits stopped.

    (_b_) Three suits stopped and his hand contains an Ace.

    (_c_) Three King suits, all of which contain in addition either
    Queen or Knave.

    (_d_) A solid five-card Club or Diamond suit and another Ace.

The first question to determine is what, from the standpoint of the
Declarer, constitutes a guarded or stopped suit.

That an Ace comes under that head is self-evident.

So also must a King, if accompanied by one small, because the lead
comes up to the Declarer, and the King must either be able to win the
trick or be made good.

A Queen and one other manifestly will not stop a suit, and a Queen and
two others is not apt to do so unless the leader hold both Ace and
King. Queen and three others is, however, comparatively safe, and
Queen, Knave, and one other is a most satisfactory guard.

Knave, Ten, and two others surely stops a suit, but Knave and three
small is about as unreliable as Queen and two small. It, therefore,
becomes evident that the Dealer, to count a suit as stopped, must have
in it one of the following holdings:--

    King and one other.
    Queen and three others.
    Queen, Knave, and one other.
    Knave and four others.
    Knave, Ten, and two others.

Some experts, with three suits stopped, bid No-trump with exactly an
average hand, but experience has shown that this is advisable only when
supported by exceptional skill, and cannot be recommended to most
players. The average holding of high cards is one Ace, one King, one
Queen, and one Knave. From the average standpoint it is immaterial
whether they are all in one suit or divided. Any hand containing a face
card or Ace above this average is a No-trumper, whenever it complies
with the other above-mentioned requirements. When the average is
exceeded by holding two Aces, instead of an Ace and King, a No-trump
should be called, but two Kings, instead of a King and Queen, or even a
King and Knave, is a very slight margin, and the declaration is
doubtful for any but the most expert. A hand with two Queens instead of
one Queen and one Knave, while technically above the average, cannot be
so considered when viewed from a trick-taking standpoint, and does not
warrant a No-trump call.

In bidding No-trump with three guarded suits, it does not matter which
is unprotected. For example, the minimum strength of a No-trumper
composed of one face card more than the average is an Ace in one suit;
King, Knave, in another; and Queen, Knave, in a third. This hand would
be a No-trumper, regardless of whether the suit void of strength
happened to be Hearts, Diamonds, Clubs, or Spades.

The above-described method of determining when the hand sizes up to the
No-trump standard is generally known as the "average system," and has
been found more simple and much safer than any of the other tests
suggested. It avoids the necessity of taking the Ten into
consideration, and does not involve the problems in mental arithmetic
which become necessary when each honor is valued at a certain figure
and a total fixed as requisite for a No-trump bid.

The theory upon which a player with possibly only three tricks declares
to take seven, is that a hand containing three sure tricks, benefited
by the advantage derived from having twenty-six cards played in unison,
is apt to produce one more; and until the Dummy refuse to help, he may
be figured on for average assistance. The Dealer is expecting to take
four tricks with his own hand, and if the Dummy take three (one-third
of the remaining nine), he will fulfil his contract. Even if the Dummy
fail to render the amount of aid the doctrine of chances makes
probable, the declaration is not likely to prove disastrous, as one
No-trump is rarely doubled.

It is also conventional to declare one No-trump with a five-card or
longer Club or Diamond suit,[2] headed by Ace, King, Queen, and one
other Ace. This is the only hand containing strength in but two suits
with which a No-trump should be called.

      [2] With a similar suit in either Spades or Hearts, Royals or
      Hearts should be the bid.

As a rule a combination of high cards massed into two suits does not
produce a No-trumper, although the same cards, divided into three
suits, may do so. For example, a hand containing Ace, Queen, Knave, in
one suit; King, Queen, Knave, in another, and the two remaining suits
unguarded, should not be bid No-trump, although the high cards are
stronger than the example given above with strength in three suits.

Admitting all the advantage of the original No-trump, even the boldest
bidders do not consider it a sound declaration with two defenseless
suits, unless one of the strong suits be established and the other
headed by an Ace. The reason for this is easily understood. When the
adversaries have a long suit of which they have all the high cards, the
chances are that it will be opened; but if not, it will soon be found
unless the Declarer can at once run a suit of considerable length. When
a suit is established by the adversaries, the Declarer is put in an
embarrassing position, and would probably have been better off playing
a Trump declaration. It is a reasonable risk to trust the partner to
stop one suit, but it is being much too sanguine to expect him to
protect two. Should he fail to have either stopped, the Declarer's loss
is so heavy that only with a long and apparently established suit and
an additional Ace is the risk justified. It is realized that the case
cited, namely, Ace, King, Queen, and two others, may not prove to be an
established (or solid, as it is often called) suit. If however, the
division be at all even, as it is in the vast majority of cases, the
suit can be run, and it is cited as the minimum holding which may be
treated as established.

With the present value of Clubs and Diamonds, either suit presents an
effective original declaration. There is, therefore, much less excuse
than formerly for a reckless No-trump bid, based upon five or six Club
or Diamond tricks and one other suit stopped. When, however, an Ace of
another suit accompanies the unusual Club or Diamond strength, the
advantage of being the first to bid No-trump makes the chance worth

The hands above cited as containing the minimum strength to warrant the
call are all what are known as "weak No-trumpers." This kind of bidding
may not be conservative, but experience has shown it to be effective as
long as it is kept within the specified limits. A No-trump must,
however, justify the partner in acting upon the assumption that the
bidder has at least the stipulated strength, and it merely courts
disaster to venture such a declaration with less than the conventional

A few examples may possibly make the above somewhat more clear, as by
that means the various "minimum-strength" or "border-line" No-trumpers,
and also hands which fall just below the mark, can be accurately shown.
It will be understood that an effort is made to give the _weakest_
hands which justify the No-trump declaration, and also the hands which
fall short by the smallest possible margin. In other words, the hands
which puzzle the Declarer. With greater strength or greater weakness
the correct bid is plainly indicated.

The suits are numbered, not designated by their respective names, in
order to emphasize that it does not matter where the weakness is


Suit 1 King, Knave, X                Does not contain an Ace, but is
 "   2 King, X, X                    above the average and has four
 "   3 Queen, Knave, X               suits stopped. It is a No-trump
 "   4 Knave, Ten, X, X              bid.

Suit 1 Ace, Knave, X                 Has an Ace, three suits stopped,
 "   2 X, X, X                       and a Knave over the average. It
 "   3 King, X, X, X                 is a No-trump bid.
 "   4 Queen, Knave, X

Suit 1 Ace, Queen, X                 Has an Ace and two face cards
 "   2 King, Queen, Knave            more than the average, but, not
 "   3 X, X, X, X                    having three suits stopped, is
 "   4 Knave, X, X                   _not_ a No-trump bid.

Suit 1 King, Queen, X                Has three suits stopped, but is
 "   2 King, Knave, X, X             without an Ace, and is one King
 "   3 Queen, Knave, X               short of three King suits all with
 "   4 X, X, X                       another face card. It is _not_
                                     a No-trump bid.

Suit 1 King, Knave, X                Has three King-Queen, or
 "   2 King, Queen, X                King-Knave suits. It is a No-trump
 "   3 King, Knave, X                bid.
 "   4 X, X, X, X

Suit 1 Ace, X, X                     Has three suits stopped and is
 "   2 Ace, X, X, X                  above the average. It is a No-trump
 "   3 Queen, Knave, X               bid.
 "   4 X, X, X

Suit 1 Ace, X, X                     This is the border-line hand
 "   2 King, X, X                    mentioned above. It may be a
 "   3 X, X, X, X                    No-trump bid for an expert, but
 "   4 King, Knave, X                the moderate player is hardly
                                     justified in risking it. The
                                     presence of one or two Tens would
                                     add materially to the strength of
                                     this hand and make it a No-trump.

Suit 1 Ace, X, X, X                  Only above the average to the
 "   2 King, Queen, X                extent of a Queen in place of
 "   3 Queen, X, X, X                a Knave. No-trump is not advised
 "   4 X, X                          unless Declarer is confident he
                                     can outplay his adversaries.

Suit 1 Ace, Knave, X                 An average hand. With this holding
 "   2 King, X, X                    only an expert is justified in
 "   3 Queen, X, X, X                bidding No-trump.
 "   4 X, X, X

Suit 1 Ace, X, X                     Below the average, and, therefore,
 "   2 King, X, X                    only "one Spade" should be bid.
 "   3 Queen, X, X, X
 "   4 X, X, X

Clubs    }                           Has the weakest "solid" suit
 or      } Ace, King, Queen, X, X    that with one other Ace warrants
Diamonds }                           a No-trump bid.
Suit 2 Ace, X, X
 "   3 X, X, X
 "   4 X, X

Clubs    } Ace, King, Knave, X, X    Absence of Queen in one case, and
 or      }     or                    of King in the other, keeps the
Diamonds } Ace, Queen, Knave, X, X   suit from being established. Even
         }                           the presence of the additional
Suit 2 Ace, Queen, X                 Queen in Suit 2 does not make this
 "   3 X, X, X                       a No-trumper.
 "   4 X, X

Clubs    }                           Absence of additional Ace makes
 or      } Ace, King, Queen, X, X    a No-trump inadvisable.
Diamonds }
Suit 2 King, Queen, X
 "   3 X, X, X
 "   4 X, X

It is realized that in the last three cases cited the margin is
unusually close; the last one, should the partner happen to have either
Suit 3 or 4 stopped, and the Ace and some length of Suit 2, would be
very much stronger than the example justifying the bid. It is also true
that a fortunate drop of the King or Queen of the long suit, with a
little help from the partner, would make the next to the last the
strongest of the three. It is idle, however, to speculate on what the
partner may have. In such close cases it is most important to
invariably follow some fixed rule. The player who guesses each time may
always be wrong, while the player who sticks to the sound bid is sure
to be right most of the time. Experience has shown that, when only two
suits are stopped, it is not wise to bid No-trump without both an Ace
and a solid suit, and experience is the best teacher.


An original bid of more than one No-trump is rarely advisable, as it is
important that the partner be given the option of bidding two of a
suit. With great strength such a call should never be made, as in that
case there is no good reason for attempting to shut out the adversary.
The only character of hand which justifies starting with two No-trumps
is the rare combination in which a long, solid suit of six or seven
Clubs or Diamonds is held, accompanied by an Ace or guarded King in at
least two of the remaining suits, the idea being to shut out adverse
Royals or Hearts.

Some players believe in bidding two No-trumps with "every Ace and not a
face," but that sort of an effort to "steal" the 100 is not justified
as the partner's hand may make a game, which could not be won at
No-trumps, obtainable in a suit declaration. A game with the incidental
score is worth much more than "one hundred Aces" and only two odd
tricks, or perchance an unfilled contract. It is also important that
the bid be limited to the one case mentioned, as in that way it gives
the most accurate information.


There is one important exception to most of the No-trump bids above
described, and that is when the hand, which otherwise would be a
No-trumper, contains as its strong suit five or more Spades or Hearts.
It takes only one more Royal or Heart than it does No-trump to win the
game, and with a suit unguarded, it is far safer and wiser, with such a
holding, to bid the Heart or Royal than the No-trump. For example, with
Ace, King, Knave, and two small Clubs; King, Queen, Knave, and one
Diamond; Queen, Knave, and one Heart; and one Spade, the bid would
unquestionably be No-trump. If, however, the Club and Spade holding be
transposed, a Royal should be declared. When there is a score which
places the Club or Diamond within four tricks of game, these suits
become as valuable as the Heart or Royal, with the score at love, and
should be treated accordingly.

The Declarer should bear in mind that as the game is the desideratum,
the surest, not the most glorious or enjoyable, route of reaching it
should be chosen. When No-trump is declared with a hand containing a
defenceless suit, there is a grave chance that the adversaries may save
game by making five tricks in that suit before the Declarer can obtain
the lead. With five or more strong cards of a suit and two other suits
stopped, four tricks are more probable with the suit declaration than
three with No-trump, but three with the No-trump are more likely than
five with the suit. It, therefore, depends upon which suit be held
whether it or No-trump should be bid. The inclination which many
players have for a No-trump bid should be firmly curbed, when the
holding is of the character mentioned and the strength is in Spades or

A very different case arises, however, when all the suits are stopped;
the Dealer is then, the game being probable with either declaration,
justified in bidding either the No-trump or the suit, as he may prefer,
and the value of the honors he holds should be an important factor in
guiding his decision. When he has more than five Spades or Hearts, the
suit declaration is generally to be preferred, even with all suits
stopped, unless the hand contain four Aces. A few examples follow:--

Spades   Ace, King, Queen, X, X      While this hand contains three
Hearts   Ace, Queen, X               Aces, it is more apt to score
Diamonds Ace, Knave, X, X            game with Royals than without a
Clubs    X                           Trump. With the Spade and Club
                                     or Spade and Diamond suits
                                     transposed, it is a No-trumper.

Spades   Ace, King, Queen, X         Not having five Spades, this hand
Hearts   Ace, Queen, X, X            is a No-trump bid. The fact that
Diamonds Ace, Knave, X, X            it contains a singleton is an
Clubs    X                           argument in favor of a suit
                                     declaration, but with only four
                                     Spades it is safer to risk the
                                     Clubs than long adverse Spades
                                     with one more trick required for

Spades   Knave, Ten, X, X            A No-trumper, as it has three
Hearts   Ace, Queen, Knave           suits stopped and contains an
Diamonds X                           Ace. A transposition of the Clubs
Clubs    King, Queen, Knave, X, X    to Spades or Hearts would make it
                                     a Trump declaration.

Spades   King, Queen, Knave, X, X    Can be declared either Royals
Hearts   Ace,  Queen                 or No-trump, as four suits are
Diamonds Ace,  X, X                  stopped and it has five strong
Clubs    Ace,  Knave, X              Spades. The 30 Aces as compared
                                     with 18 honors in Royals and the
                                     absence of a singleton make the
                                     No-trump more attractive. If,
                                     however, the Ten of Spades be
                                     substituted for a small Spade,
                                     the 72 honors would make it a

Spades   King, Knave, X              While the four Suits are stopped,
Hearts   King, Queen, Ten, X, X, X   the length in Hearts makes the
Diamonds Ace, X                      suit call the more advisable.
Clubs    Ace, X

Spades   King, Queen, Ten            The Diamond is tempting, as a
Hearts   King, Knave, Ten            score of 56 honors is compared
Diamonds Ace, King, Queen, Knave     with possibly 30 adverse aces.
Clubs    King, Queen, Knave          If, however, the three missing
                                     Aces be held by the adversaries,
                                     game cannot be scored in Diamonds,
                                     and a game is always worth more
                                     than 100. It is therefore a


For some reason the Dealer is more apt to make faulty suit bids than
unwarranted No-trumpers. It seems as difficult for the old Whist and
Bridge player as it is for the novice to realize that even excessive
length does not justify an original suit call, unless the suit contain
either the Ace or the King. It, also, is just as important to remember
that if the suit does not contain _both_ the Ace and the King, the hand
must in addition have at least one other honor in the suit named,[3]
and one other sure trick. By "sure trick" in this connection is not
meant merely a suit stopped, but a trick that can be won not later than
the second round; in other words, either an Ace or a King and Queen, or
King and Knave, of the same suit.

      [3] While, as a general rule, to justify an original suit
      declaration, "one other honor" should accompany either Ace or
      King, it is not necessary to blindly follow such a requirement to
      an absurd extreme.

      If the suit be headed by the Ace, either unusual length (six or
      more) or considerable strength in another suit (Ace and King, or
      Ace, Queen, Knave) would justify a call without "one other

      If, however, the suit be headed by the King, the presence of
      another honor is essential unless the length or additional
      strength be extraordinary.

Stating in another way the combination of high cards requisite for an
original suit bid, it may be said that a suit should never be
originally declared unless the hand contain two sure high-card tricks,
one of which must be in the suit named. These sure high-card tricks
must be either two Aces or their equivalent in value for trick-taking
purposes. The reason is obvious. The declaration of a suit by an
informatory bidder tells the partner, not only that the bidder is
satisfied to have that hand played with the suit named as the Trump,
but also that his holding will be helpful to the extent of at least two
tricks, one of which is in his suit, should the declaration be shifted
to No-trump. This is one of the simplest and most vital rules of
bidding, yet it is probably the most frequently disregarded.
Innumerable points have appeared in the adverse honor column because a
partner has properly assumed that an original suit call showed the
high-card strength just mentioned, only to find out too late that the
bidder, with perhaps a couple of Kings, had yielded to the lure of
length. Even at the risk of seeming repetition, it is necessary to be a
little more explicit upon this subject.

When the Dealer bids a suit, he says: "Partner, I have great strength
in this suit; it is probable that I have both the Ace and King, but if
not, I have either the Ace or King, supported by at least one other
honor,[4] and the Ace or the King and Queen, or King and Knave, of some
other suit; you can bid No-trump or double any adverse declaration,
positively assured that I will support you to the extent named."

      [4] See footnote, page 31.

The holding in the suit which is declared, is vital. Take, for example,
such a hand as Queen, Knave, and five small Hearts; and the Ace and
King of Clubs. Of course, the Dealer wants to play this hand with
Hearts as Trump, but he should not bid a Heart at the start, as he has
not the Ace or King. The fact that he has both the Ace and King of
Clubs does not justify a Heart call without either the Ace or King of
Hearts. With the hand cited there will be plenty of time to bid Hearts

The rule which governs this case is the foundation of modern bidding;
it is without exception, is not affected by the score, and is the most
important of all Auction conventions.

Every player should resolve that, whatever his other shortcomings may
be, he will treat it as a veritable law of the Medes and Persians, and
that never, as Dealer, will he call a suit unless he hold the Ace or
King of it, and the other requisite strength.

The combination of high cards above mentioned, however, is not in
itself sufficient to justify a suit declaration. There must, in
addition, be length in the suit. This is just as essential in Clubs or
Diamonds as in Hearts or Royals. The partner may have great strength,
and yet be unable to stop the adverse suit. A No-trump being thus
eliminated, he, acting on the assurance given by the original call, may
carry the suit to high figures. This is sure to prove disastrous,
unless the original bidder has length as well as strength.

As a general rule, five is the minimum length with which a suit should
be called, but with great strength, such as Ace, King, Knave; Ace,
Queen, Knave; or King, Queen, Knave, in the suit, coupled with another
Ace; or a King and Queen, a bid with a four-card combination may be
ventured. A four-card suit, headed by Ace, King, Queen, may be called
without other strength.

A short suit, that is, one of three cards or less, should never be bid
originally, regardless of its strength. Even the holding of Ace, King,
Queen, does not justify the naming of such a suit.

While the doctrine above enunciated as to the minimum strength required
for a Trump bid is unquestionably logical and is now regarded as
conventional by a very large proportion of the expert players of
Auction, it is only natural that there should be some dissent. There is
a certain character of mind that always desires to carry any sound
theory to dangerous extremes, and, consequently, some players and
writers have seen fit, while adopting the theory which has altered the
old system of always starting with one Spade into the modern
informatory game, to advocate extensions which would practically
eliminate the defensive declaration.

These extremists desire to permit a Dealer to bid whenever he has a
long suit, regardless of whether it be headed by high cards, and also
whether it would aid a No-trump. One system suggested is that a Trump
be called whenever the Dealer holds any suit which counts 7, on the
basis of an Ace or face counting 2, and any lower card, 1. The
believers in this doctrine would, therefore, bid a Club from such a
hand as Queen, Knave, X, X, X, without any possibility of another
trick; or even from Knave, X, X, X, X, X. The absurdity of this becomes
obvious when it is remembered that the only real object in bidding a
Club or Diamond is to show strength which will justify the partner in
declaring one of the three game-going declarations. Any such holding as
that mentioned not only does not help any other declaration, but as a
matter of fact is a hand so far under the trick-taking average that, if
any method could be devised by which weakness could be emphasized more
strongly than by making the defensive declaration, such a hand would
fully justify employing it. It is difficult to conceive what benefit
can result to a partnership from any such weakness being, for the
purpose of the declaration, changed into alleged strength. If a player
declare with any such combination, his power to give information when
he really possesses strength of course immediately ceases to exist, and
the entire structure of informative bidding thereby drops to pieces.

The system of suit declarations above outlined, and upon which all that
is hereinafter suggested in relation to bidding is based, must be
followed by players who wish to give their partners accurate data, and
while it may be tempting at times to depart from the conventional, the
more frequently such exception is made by the Dealer in his bid, the
more often does misunderstanding between the partners ensue.


Every game of the Whist family has some point upon which experts
disagree, and which, consequently, produces apparently interminable

In Auction, it is the two Spade bid, and no less than four recognized
factions have widely divergent views concerning it. These views may be
briefly stated as follows:--

    (_a_) With the border-line No-trumpers now in vogue, a hand not
    strong enough to bid No-trump is too weak to warrant any call but
    one Spade. The two Spade bid is, therefore, useless and should
    never be made.

    (_b_) The two Spade bid should be used as a No-trump invitation
    with any hand not quite strong enough to justify a No-trump call.
    Having this meaning it does not matter whether the hand contain any
    Spade strength.

    (_c_) The two Spade bid should be used as a No-trump invitation,
    but must also give the additional information that the hand
    contains at least one trick in Spades.

    (_d_) The two Spade bid should be used to tell the partner that
    the hand has the high-card strength to bid one Royal, but not
    sufficient length. It thus becomes either a No-trump or Royal

All these systems have their advocates, most of whom refuse to see
merit in any plan but their own. It is only fair, however, before
reaching a definite conclusion to accord to all a fair and
dispassionate consideration.


The argument that, as long as light No-trumpers are conventional, any
hand not sufficiently strong to call No-trump is too weak to justify
declaring more than one Spade, has considerable force. Beyond question,
many followers of plans "_b_" and "_c_" call two Spades when their
holdings do not warrant such action, but the fact that a declaration is
at times abused is far from being a sufficient reason for wiping it off
the Auction map, and saying to those who desire to use it rationally,
"No, because some players see fit to make this bid with two Knaves and
a Queen, it is not safe to allow you the privilege of using it sanely,
wisely, and at the appropriate time."

The supporters of "_a_," however, go further, and say that the hands in
which a No-trump cannot be called, but with which the invitation should
be extended to the partner to bid it, are so rare that the retention of
the two Spade call merely encumbers the catalogue of the Declarer with
a bid that is practically obsolete.

This, if it be true, would be most convincing, but it is so surprising
a statement that it should be examined before being accepted.

Every hand that class "_d_" would bid two Spades would be similarly
called by "_b_" and "_c_," and at least ninety-nine per cent. of
expert Auction players concede that such a bid is sound. For example:--

    Spades    Ace, King, Knave
    Hearts    X, X, X, X
    Diamonds  X, X, X
    Clubs     Ace, Queen, X

has strength which deserves, if possible, to be shown.

This is merely a sample of a hand which would be a Royal, if length in
Spades accompanied the strength. Such hands come within the "_d_"
classification, and are not rare. This must be admitted when it is
considered that three- or four-card suits are much more frequently held
than suits of greater length. Therefore, two Spades should be bid more
often than one Royal. With the single exception of No-trump, Royals is
the call most frequently played; consequently, as a preliminary call,
two Spades must be used more constantly than any declaration, except

Experience bears out this argument, and it, therefore, seems that the
"_a_" allegations are not supported by examination.

It is obvious that the more original calls with which it is possible to
equip a Dealer, the more accurately can he distinguish for the benefit
of his partner between the different classes of holdings. It therefore
seems absurd to contend that the bid of two spades should be


The argument presented by the "_b_" school is also at first quite
convincing. Take such a hand as

    Spades    X, X, X
    Hearts    Ace, X, X
    Diamonds  King, Knave, X
    Clubs     Knave, X, X, X

It is just too weak for a No-trump, but at first glance seems too
strong for a Spade.

Why, however, should it be too strong for a Spade? It is under the
average, which means the holding of the partner must be quite a bit
better than the average to get one odd. If he have such a hand he will
declare it in any event, and the dealer can then help. Furthermore,
this system does not point out any one suit as stopped, and, therefore,
gives the minimum degree of information. It is practically saying, "I
bid half a No-trump." It is quite doubtful whether the holding
essential for such a bid can be properly limited and whether it will
not tempt bidding with too great weakness.

Furthermore, it must be taken out. The Third Hand cannot allow his
partner to play two Spades, and if he be weak, all he can do under this
system is to call three Spades, which only makes matters worse, as it
is sure to be doubled, and the dealer must in turn take that out. To do
this with the hand above cited, he must either call two Clubs with four
to a Knave, or one Diamond with three to the King, Knave.

The trouble is evident--the result apt to be unfortunate. If the
partner with average strength accept such a No-trump invitation, the
contract cannot be fulfilled; while if he be strong, he will bid in any
event, so where is the advantage of the call?

For one purpose, however, this system of bid seems sound. If the dealer
be a poor player and the Third Hand an expert, it is for the benefit of
the partnership that the Third Hand be the Declarer. When the Dealer
holds a real No-trumper, but wishes his partner to become the Declarer,
the two Spade,--not invitation, but command,--has real merit, but as
few players either concede their own inferiority or are willing to
allow their partners to play a majority of the hands, this apparent
argument in favor of the plan will not appeal to many, and will,
therefore, seldom prove of service.


This comes nearer being logical, as it shows one Spade trick, and,
therefore, indicates help for a partner's Royal, but with that
exception, it is subject to the same objections as "_b_." It is
troublesome to take out, and when compared with "_d_" gives extremely
limited information.

It may, however, be of distinct advantage for a player who does not
approve of light No-trumpers. Followers of the theory that the call
of one No-trump means four or five sure tricks will certainly find
"_c_" or even "_b_" an advantageous system, but the advantage of
"getting to the No-trump first" is so manifest that the light
declarations have become generally popular, and but few of the
"I-will-not-declare-unless-I-have-the-'goods'" bidders are now to be

If a player believe in calling No-trump with the minimum strength now
considered sufficient, he has little use for either "_b_" or "_c_."

It is self-evident that "_c_" cannot be used as often as "_b_," so the
Declarer who likes always to say something will prefer "_b_," but the
bidder who wishes, when he calls, to have distinct value attached to
his announcement, will elect in favor of "_c_" rather than "_b_," and
for the same reason will find "_d_" the best system of all.


It is toward this system that the evolution of modern bidding is
turning. True, two Spades cannot be declared as frequently when "_d_"
is used as when "_b_" or "_c_" is employed, but the "_d_" bid conveys
information so comprehensive and important that one call is of greater
value than several "_b_" or "_c_" bids, which, at best, furnish the
partner with indefinite data.

It makes the weakness take-out of the partner, namely, one Royal, easy
and logical, and in every way seems the soundest, safest, simplest, and
most conducive to game-winning of all the plans suggested.

It invites equally the two most important declarations, makes easy the
position of the partner when he holds long, weak Spades, and is
doubtless destined, in a short time, to be the only two-Spade system
in use, unless it be found advisable to include in the repertory of
the original declarer both "_b_" and "_d_."

This can be readily accomplished by calling two Spades for "_b_"; three
Spades for "_d_"; and four Spades for the combination hereinafter
given, for which the declaration of three Spades is suggested.

No serious objection can be advanced to this plan, except that it is
somewhat complicated, and for a light No-trump bidder, possibly
unnecessary. It is a totally new idea, but believed to be of sufficient
value to entitle it to a trial.

As it is impossible to declare or play intelligently when any doubt
exists between partners regarding the convention employed, and as it is
wise not to follow unsound theories, no further reference will be made
to "_a_," "_b_," or "_c_" plans. The "_d_" system will be fully
described, and all suggestions that hereinafter appear will be based
upon the supposition that it is being used.


The bid of two Spades is a showing of Spade strength, with a hand which
does not contain Spade length sufficient to justify the bid of one

      [5] See page 89, as to how the partner should treat this
      declaration; also table on pages 68 and 69.

The latter is the more advantageous declaration, and should be made
whenever five Spades with the requisite high-card strength are held.
When, however, the hand contains the strength, but not the length, for
a Royal call, the bid of two Spades is a most useful substitute.

It may be made with three or four Spades in any case in which, with
five, one Royal could be declared, except the solitary instance of
holding Ace and King of Spades without another trick of any kind. A
Royal may be called with five, headed by Ace, King, as, should the bid
stand, the three small Trumps would surely take one trick. Every
original offensive declaration is based upon a minimum of three tricks.
This principle applies to the bid of two Spades, and, therefore, a hand
containing less than five Spades, headed by Ace, King, and no other
winning card, is a one Spade call, as it is one and one-quarter tricks
below the average.

When a player bids two Spades, he sends his partner a message which
gives information about as follows: "I have three or four Spades with
two or three high honors, and in addition, unless I have Ace, King, and
Queen of Spades, I have one other suit well stopped. My hand does not
warrant a No-trump, because I have only two suits stopped. As I have
not more than four Spades, I do not wish to bid a Royal; I am too
strong to be satisfied with one Spade, so I bid two for the purpose of
encouraging you to call No-trump or Royals."

Such a declaration certainly gives very accurate information, and
should be used whenever such a hand occurs, but not under any other


The declaration of three Spades by the Dealer is a very recent idea and
is also most informatory. It says: "Partner, I am anxious to have
Royals the Trump, but I cannot make that declaration now, as I have not
the requisite high cards. I probably have not the Ace of Spades, and
the chances are that I am without the King also. Either because the
balance of my hand is so strong that I fear I will be left in with one
Spade, or for some other reason, I do not wish to open with the
defensive declaration and wait for a later round to show strength. You
can count on me for five or more (probably more) Spades and other

      [6] See page 90, as to how the partner should treat this


Another case to consider in bidding by the Dealer is when more than one
of any game-scoring suit should be declared.

The original theory of declaration was to withhold from the table as
long as possible all information regarding the strength of the hand;
therefore, to start with one in the real suit was regarded as most
unwise, and to bid two would have been deemed the act of a lunatic.

Now, however, the original suit declaration of more than one is
generally acknowledged to be an important part of the finesse of the
skilled bidder, and such bidding, when justified by the hand, is
recognized as eminently wise and proper.

When the "two" and "three" original Trump bids first came into vogue,
they were used indiscriminately with great length, regardless of
whether or not high cards headed the suit. The meaning of the bid was
"Do not take me out," and it was made under widely divergent
conditions. No distinction was drawn between a hand which might be
trickless as an aid to, or defense against, a No-trump declaration, and
one which would produce seven or eight tricks under such circumstances.
This kind of bidding was found to be much too confusing for the
partner, and prevented him from rendering intelligent support.

It is now realized that it is far wiser with length, no matter how
great, but without commanding cards, to start with a Spade and then bid
the long suit on the succeeding round, thus practically photographing
the hand for the partner and energetically waving the red flag for any
declaration but the one suit.

Take, for example, such a hand as seven Hearts, headed by Queen, Knave;
Ace, Knave, and two Clubs; two small Diamonds, and no Spades. An
original two Heart or one Club call would grossly mislead the partner
without being of any real advantage, but one Spade followed by two
Hearts, or even three, if necessary, shows the exact situation. As long
as the hand containing a long suit is not so strong that there is grave
danger of its being left in with one Spade, it should be started with
the defensive declaration. When such great strength exists, a sound
opening bid invariably presents itself.

It, therefore, becomes apparent that an original suit bid of two or
three, just as necessarily as a bid of one, should demonstrate the
underlying principle of original suit declarations--namely, strength,
as well as length.

The incidental object in bidding more than one originally is to warn
the partner that the Dealer prefers to play the suit named rather than
a doubtful No-trump; the main reason, however, is, if possible, to shut
out adverse bidding. When there is great length in either Spades or
Hearts and distinct weakness in the other, a two or three bid is most
advisable. In that case, the strength in the other suit may be entirely
with the adversaries and may be divided between them. They could
readily find this out, if allowed to start with a cheap bid, but it
frequently happens that neither is sufficiently strong to make a high
declaration without assistance from his partner.

When the Dealer has sufficient strength in either Royals or Hearts to
bid more than one, and, in addition, has considerable strength in the
other suits, it is as a rule advisable to bid but one, as in that case
he does not wish to frighten off adverse bidding, but prefers to
encourage it with the hope that it may reach a point which will give
him a safe and profitable double.

Six sure tricks with the possibility of more is the minimum strength
for an original call of two Hearts or two Royals.


An original bid of three Royals or Hearts is justified by a hand in
which sufficient strength exists to make it probable that the
declaration will be successful, and which nevertheless cannot
effectively defend against a high bid by the adversaries in the other
suit. As a rule this is a two-suit hand, and in a genuine two-suiter it
often happens that one side may be able to win eleven tricks in Royals
or Hearts, while their adversaries can capture a similar number in the

The three bid is, of course, a "shut-out" measure, and should be
employed for that purpose only.

Seven sure tricks, with the possibility of more, is the minimum
strength for an original call of three Hearts or three Royals.


The original bid of two in either Diamonds or Clubs with the score at
love is a totally different character of declaration from two Hearts or
two Royals. The Dealer does not with this declaration say, "Let me stay
in and make game," but he does say, "I have a long suit (at least five
cards) headed by Ace, King, Queen, with no considerable support on the
side. (If I had another Ace, I would bid No-trump.) Now you know my
exact hand."

When there is a score which places Diamonds or Clubs within four tricks
of game, the original bid of two or more in either suit is of exactly
the same significance as a similar call of Royals or Hearts, with the
score at love.


The only remaining case of original declaration by the Dealer is the
hand with two suits, both of which are of sufficient strength to bid.
As a general rule, it is wiser first to call the lower in value, and
then to declare the higher on the next round. This gives the maximum
amount of information, but should only be attempted when the hand
clearly indicates that there will be another opportunity to bid, as
otherwise the Dealer may be left in with a non-game-producing

The Dealer must determine from the composition of his hand whether a
second opportunity to bid is assured. When he is not very strong, the
chances are that some one else will declare. When he is without a suit
or has a singleton, it is a reasonably safe assumption that some one
will be strong enough in that suit to call it.

A few examples follow of hands which have the minimum strength to
justify the various Trump calls and also of hands which, by a small
margin, fall short:--


Spades    Ace, King, X, X, X         Has five Spades headed by Ace
Hearts    X, X, X                    and King. With Royals Trump has
Diamonds  X, X, X                    two high-card tricks, and can
Clubs     X, X                       take at least one with small
                                     cards. It is, therefore, a one
                                     Royal bid.

Spades    King, X, X, X              Has not high-card strength
Hearts    King, Knave, X, X, X       sufficient for either a Heart or
Diamonds  X, X                       two-Spade bid. One Spade is the
Clubs     X, X                       correct call.

Spades    X, X                       Complies with all the requirements
Hearts    King, Queen, X, X, X       of a Heart bid.
Diamonds  Ace, Knave, X
Clubs     X, X, X

Spades    X, X, X                    Has only four Hearts; is,
Hearts    King, Queen, X, X          therefore, a one Spade call.
Diamonds  Ace, Knave, X
Clubs     X, X, X

Spades    X, X, X                    Has only four Hearts, but has
Hearts    Ace, Queen, Knave, X       sufficient high-card strength
Diamonds  Ace, Queen, X              to justify a Heart bid.
Clubs     X, X, X

Spades    Ace, Queen, X, X           A two Spade bid; with one more
Hearts    X, X, X                    Spade, it would be one Royal.
Diamonds  Ace, X, X
Clubs     X, X, X

Spades    Ace, Knave, X              A two Spade bid. With two more
Hearts    X, X, X,                   Spades, it would be one Royal.
Diamonds  King, Queen, X
Clubs     X, X, X, X

Spades    Ace, Knave, X, X           Either two Spades or one Club
Hearts    X, X                       could be bid, but the Club is
Diamonds  X, X                       distinctly preferable.
Clubs     Ace, Queen, Knave, X, X

Spades    King, X, X, X              A one Spade bid, as it has not
Hearts    Ace, X, X                  two honors in Spades.
Diamonds  Knave, X, X
Clubs     Knave, X, X

Spades    Queen, Knave, Ten, X, X,   A three Spade bid; cannot be
              X, X                   started as a Royal without Ace
Hearts    Ace, Queen                 or King, and so strong, one Spade
Diamonds  King, Knave, X             might not be overbid.
Clubs     King

Spades    None                       A two or three Heart bid.
Hearts    Ace, King, Knave, Ten, X, X
Diamonds  Queen, Knave, Ten
Clubs     Ace, X, X, X

Spades    Ace, King                  A one Heart bid. So strong that
Hearts    Ace, King, Knave, Ten,     a higher call is unnecessary, as
              X, X                   adverse bidding is desired.
Diamonds  Queen, Knave, Ten
Clubs     King, Queen

Spades    Ace, King, Knave, Ten,     A three Royals bid. Important to
              X, X, X                shut out adverse bidding.
Hearts    None
Diamonds  X, X
Clubs     Ace, King, X, X

Spades    X, X                       A two Diamonds bid.
Hearts    King, X, X
Diamonds  Ace, King, Queen, X, X,
Clubs     X, X

Spades    Ace, King, Knave, X, X     Should either be bid one Club
Hearts    X                          and subsequently Royals, or
Diamonds  X, X                       started at two Royals to shut out
Clubs     Ace, King, X, X, X         other bidding.

Spades    King, X                    While this hand has more than
Hearts    Ace, King, Queen           sufficient high-card strength to
Diamonds  X, X, X, X                 justify an offensive bid, it is only
Clubs     X, X, X, X                 a Spade. Two Spades would mislead
                                     the partner as to length and
                                     strength of Spades and might
                                     induce him to bid high Royals; one
                                     Heart would mislead him as to
                                     length of Hearts; having, however,
                                     called one Spade, the hand can
                                     advance any declaration of the
                                     partner and if the partner bid
                                     either Clubs or Diamonds, can call

Spades    King, Knave, X, X, X,      Should not be bid one Royal, as
              X, X                   that deceives partner as to
Hearts    X, X                       high-card strength; two Spades
Diamonds  X, X                       invites a No-trump, which is not
Clubs     X, X                       wanted. Either three Spades or
                                     one Spade should be called. The
                                     hand, outside of Spades, is so
                                     weak that the latter is the wiser

Spades    Queen, Ten, X, X           Spade honors are too weak for two
Hearts    Ace, X, X                  Spades. One Spade is the only
Diamonds  X, X, X                    sound bid.
Clubs     X, X, X

Spades    X                          One Club should be bid, followed,
Hearts    Queen, Knave, Ten, X,      regardless of the partner's
              X, X, X                declaration, with Hearts.
Diamonds  None
Clubs     Ace, King, X, X, X

Spades    Queen, Knave, Ten, X,      Three Spades, and on the next
              X, X                   round, Hearts, unless the partner
Hearts    King, Knave, Ten, X,       has bid _two_ Royals.
              X, X
Diamonds  None
Clubs     X

Spades    Knave, Ten, Nine, X, X, X  This very interesting hand affords
Hearts    None                       a number of correct original bids.
Diamonds  Ace, Knave, X              One Club, three Spades, and one
Clubs     Ace, Queen, Knave, X       Spade are all sound; the latter
                                     is not apt to be left in, as a
                                     Heart call is most probable, the
                                     long hand in that suit containing
                                     at least five. Three Suits being
                                     stopped, with more than an average
                                     hand, one No-trump is also
                                     technically correct. The chances
                                     are, however, that the hand will
                                     produce better results if the
                                     Trump be Royals, and as the call
                                     of one No-trump may stand, it is
                                     not wise to open the bidding that
                                     way. Three Spades seems the most
                                     advisable declaration, as it gives
                                     the information most important for
                                     the partner to receive. The risk
                                     in calling one Spade, while
                                     slight, is totally unnecessary,
                                     and one Club does not warn the
                                     partner not to bid Hearts, if he
                                     have anything in Spades.

                                     Should three Spades be called and
                                     the partner declare one Heart, the
                                     dealer on the next round could try
                                     No-trump, but one Club, followed
                                     by one Heart from partner, would
                                     necessitate a Royal from the
                                     dealer, as the absence of Spades
                                     in the partner's hand is not then

                                     In the event of the small Club
                                     being transposed to a Diamond, so
                                     that the hand contain four
                                     Diamonds and three Clubs, three
                                     Spades would unquestionably be the
                                     most advantageous original call.



The Second Hand bids under two totally dissimilar conditions. The
Dealer of necessity has declared and, either by a call of one Spade,
shown comparative weakness, or, by an offensive declaration, given
evidence of strength.

It is obvious that whether the Dealer be strong or weak materially
affects the question of how the Second Hand should bid, as it makes
quite a variation in the number of tricks he has the right to expect to
find in his partner's hand. This, however, is not the only, and,
possibly, not the most important difference.

When the Dealer has called one Spade, it is practically certain, should
the Second Hand pass, that he will have another opportunity to enter
the bidding. When, however, the Dealer has declared a suit or No-trump,
it is possible, if the Second Hand fail to declare, that no other bid
will be made, and the declaration of the Dealer will stand.

It is, therefore, readily seen that, in the first case, the Second Hand
is making an initial declaration; in the other, a forced bid.


When Auction was in its infancy, the authorities advised the Second
Hand, regardless of the character of his cards, to pass a declaration
of one Spade. The reason given was that the Third Hand would have to
take his partner out, which might prove embarrassing, and that a bid by
the Second Hand would release his left-hand adversary from this,
possibly, trying position.

Modern Auction developments have proven the futility of this idea. The
Third Hand of to-day is not troubled by any obligation to take the
Dealer out of "one Spade," and will not do so without considerable
strength. Should the Second Hand pass, with winning cards, the Fourth
Hand may be the player who finds himself in the awkward position, and
if, adopting the conservative course, he allow the Spade declaration to
stand, a good chance to score game may be lost by the failure of the
Second Hand to avail himself of his opportunity.

Second Hand silence is not now regarded as golden, but there is still
some question as to the amount of strength required to make a
declaration advisable. Some authorities believe the Second Hand should
pass, unless his cards justify him in expecting to make game. This
theory was for a time very generally accepted, and even yet has a
considerable following. Experience, however, has convinced most of its
advocates that it is unsound, and it is being rapidly abandoned.

It is now conceded that the deal is quite an advantage, because of the
opportunity it gives the Dealer to strike the first blow. It follows
that when the Dealer has been obliged to relinquish his favorable
position, it is the height of folly for the Second Hand, when he has
the requisite strength, not to grasp it. Furthermore, the Dealer having
shown weakness, the adverse strength is probably in the Third Hand.
Should the Third Hand call No-trump, the Fourth Hand will be the
leader, and it will then be important for him to know which suit his
partner desires opened. On the first round of the declaration, this can
be indicated by a bid of one, but after the No-trump, it takes two,
which, with the strength over the bidder, may be dangerous.

The bid of the Second Hand, furthermore, makes the task of his
left-hand adversary more difficult and may prevent a No-trump. It
certainly aids the Fourth Hand--indeed, it may be just the information
he needs for a game declaration.

It seems clear, therefore, that the Second Hand should show his
strength when he has the chance. He should not, however, carry too far
the principles above outlined. It is just as fatal for the Second Hand
as for the Dealer, to deceive his partner.


The rules governing an original offensive bid by the Dealer apply to
the Second Hand, after the Dealer has called one Spade, in practically
every instance. The only possible exception is the holding necessary
for a border-line No-trump. When the Dealer, with the minimum strength,
declares "one No-trump," he figures on the probability that his partner
holds one-third of the high cards not in his own hand. When the Second
Hand declares after "one Spade," it is reasonable for him to count upon
his partner for a slightly greater percentage of strength; therefore,
he may bid No-trump a little more freely.

To justify a No-trump by the Dealer, he should have slightly better
than average cards. The Second Hand, with exactly an average holding,
may make the bid. The No-trump requirements,--namely, four suits
stopped, three suits stopped and an Ace, three King-Queen or King-Knave
suits, or at least five solid Diamonds or Clubs and an Ace,--which
limit the declaration of the Dealer, apply, however, with equal force
to the Second Hand, and should never be disregarded.


The Dealer, having declared one Spade, a Trump declaration of one, two,
or three by the Second Hand is subject to exactly the same rules as in
the case of the original call by the Dealer. Precisely the same
reasoning holds good and the same danger is apt to arise, should the
Second Hand digress from the recognized principles of safety, and bid a
long suit which does not contain the requisite high cards. The Second
Hand will have an opportunity to declare his weak suit of great length
on the next round, and there is no necessity for deceiving the partner
as to its composition by jumping into it with undue celerity.


The question of when the Second Hand should double is covered in the
chapter on "Doubling," but as the double of one Spade is really a
declaration, rather than a double, it seems proper to consider it here,
especially as it is of vital importance that it be accurately
distinguished from the Second Hand bid of two Spades, with which it is
very frequently confused. Many good players treat the two declarations
as synonymous, although by so doing they fail to avail themselves of a
simple and safe opportunity to convey valuable information. The reason
for this apparent carelessness on the part of many bidders is that no
scheme of declaring that accurately fits the situation has hitherto
been generally understood.

The idea that follows has been found to work well, and while as yet not
sufficiently used to be termed conventional, seems to be growing in
favor with such rapidity that its general adoption in the near future
is clearly indicated.

The Second Hand doubles one Spade, with practically the same holding
with which the dealer bids two Spades, not with the expectation or wish
that the double will stand, but as the most informatory action
possible, and as an invitation to his partner to bid No-trumps or
Royals. In a general way his bid of two Spades has the same
significance, except that it more emphatically suggests a call of
Royals. By accurately distinguishing the two, the partner may declare
with much greater effect.

The double shows short Spades (two or three), with at least two high
honors in Spades, and one other trick, or the Ace of Spades and two
other tricks.


The bid of two Spades shows exactly four Spades and the same high-card
holding which justifies doubling one Spade.

      [7] See Bid of Two Spades by Dealer, page 47.

The Second Hand, when he doubles one, or bids two Spades, says: "I have
not three suits stopped, so I cannot bid No-trumps. While I have
sufficient high-card strength to call one Royal, I have less than five
Spades, and, therefore, am without sufficient length. I can, however,
by this declaration, tell you the exact number of my Spades, and I
expect you to make the best possible use of the exceptionally accurate
information with which you are furnished."

As much care should be taken in selecting the correct declaration, when
in doubt whether to bid two Spades or double one, as when determining
whether to call a Royal or a Heart. Many a player doubles one Spade
with five or six, headed by Knave, Ten, apparently never realizing that
with such a hand he wishes the trump to be Royals, and yet, by his bid,
is inviting his partner to call No-trump; or he bids two Spades with
the Queen of Spades and a couple of Kings, and after his partner has
declared a Royal, or doubled an adverse No-trump, counting on the
announced Spade strength, says: "I realize I deceived you in the
Spades, but I had two Kings about which you did not know."

That sort of a declarer makes it impossible for his partner to take
full advantage of any sound bid he may make.

Every Second Hand bidder should remember that when he doubles one Spade
or bids two, he tells his partner he has short or exactly four Spades,
as the case may be; that he has not three suits stopped, and that his
minimum high-card holding is one of the following combinations:--


    Ace, King, Queen    No strength required
    Ace, King           Queen, Knave, and one other
    Ace, Queen          King, Knave

    Ace, Knave          Ace, or King and Queen, or King, Knave, Ten

    Ace                 Ace and King; Ace, Queen, Knave; or King,
                        Queen, Knave

    King, Queen         Ace, or King and Queen, or King, Knave, Ten

    King, Knave, Ten    Ace, or King and Queen, or King, Knave, Ten

    King, Knave         Ace and King; Ace, Queen, Knave; or King,
                        Queen, Knave

    Queen, Knave, Ten   Ace and King; Ace, Queen, Knave; or King,
                        Queen, Knave

In order that the distinction between the various Second Hand Spade
declarations may be clearly marked, take such a holding as

    Spades    Ace, King
    Hearts    Three small
    Diamonds  Four small
    Clubs     Ace

Only ten cards are mentioned, and the remaining three are either Spades
or Clubs.

        _When                   Making the        The Second
       the missing               number of           Hand
        cards are           Spades in the Hand      should_

    All Clubs                     Two             Double
    Two Clubs and one Spade       Three           Double
    One Club and two Spades       Four            Bid two Spades
    All Spades                    Five            Bid one Royal

The method suggested above is not the only plan for distinguishing
between the double of one and the bid of two Spades.

Some players think the double should mean a No-trump invitation,
without any significance as to strength in the Spade suit, and two
Spades should show two honors in Spades. The same comment applies to
this as to a similar declaration by the Dealer; namely, that with the
light No-trumpers now conventional, the invitation without Spade
strength is unnecessary and possibly dangerous.

Those, however, who wish to have the privilege of issuing such an
invitation, are not obliged to deprive themselves of the undoubted and
material advantage of being able, when strong in Spades, to distinguish
between a holding of short Spades (two or three) and of exactly four.
They can convey to their partners that very important information by
using the following system:--

    THE BID                  THE MEANING

    Double of one Spade      A No-trump invitation. No information
                             as to Spade strength

    Two Spades               Short Spades with two high honors
                             and one other trick

    Three Spades             Four Spades with two high honors and
                             one other trick

    Four Spades              Same as bid of three Spades described
                             immediately below

This system is entirely new, is somewhat complicated, and is suggested
for what it is worth for those who wish, without Spade strength, to
invite a No-trump.

As the bid of four Spades can be taken out by the partner with one
Royal, the system is not subject to objection, on the ground that four
Spades forces the partner to an unduly high declaration. The scheme is,
as yet, merely an experiment, and of doubtful value except for the
purpose of enabling a poor player to place with an expert partner the
responsibility of the play.

It is not hereinafter referred to, but the suggestions made regarding
Third and Fourth Hand bidding can be readily adapted to comply with its
self-evident requirements.


The bid of three Spades when made by the Second Hand shows a holding of
at least five (probably six) Spades, almost certainly without the Ace
and probably without the King, but with some side strength. It says, "I
want this hand played with Royals as the Trump, but I cannot bid that
suit now, as I have not the requisite high-card holding. Either because
the rest of my hand is so strong that I fear neither the Third Hand nor
my partner can bid, or for some other good reason, I prefer now, rather
than later, to give my partner all possible information."

      [8] See page 123 as to how the partner should treat this

This system of bidding differentiates most accurately between the
various lengths of Spade holdings and enables the partner to elect
between No-trump and Royals, with an exact knowledge of the situation
not otherwise obtainable.


When the Dealer has made an offensive declaration, the Second Hand must
bear in mind that it is possible this may be his last opportunity to
declare. A declaration under such circumstances being what is very
properly termed "forced," is of a totally different character from the
"free" declaration heretofore considered, and is not limited by any
hard-and-fast rules as to the presence of certain cards. For example,
should the Dealer bid one Royal, and the Second Hand hold seven Hearts,
headed by Queen, Knave, he obviously must declare two Hearts; otherwise,
even if the Fourth Hand hold the Ace and King of Hearts, and other
strength, the declaration of one Royal might stand.

The principle is that an offensive bid having been made, the
declaration of the player following does not of necessity show high
cards, but does suggest the ability of the Declarer to successfully
carry out the proposed contract.

When the Dealer has called a No-trump, the Second Hand is obliged
either to pass, or declare two of some suit, or of No-trump. He must
remember that against the Dealer's No-trump he is the leader, and as
the information regarding his strong suit will be given to his partner
by the first card played, it is not important that he convey it by a

The No-trump may be only of minimum strength, but it may, on the other
hand, be of much more than average calibre. The Third Hand has yet to
be heard from, and if, as is possible, he have considerable strength in
the suit that the Second Hand thinks of declaring, such a bid will
offer an ideal opportunity for a profitable double. The Second Hand,
therefore, should be somewhat diffident about bidding two in a suit. He
should make the declaration only when his hand is so strong that in
spite of the No-trump, there seems to be a good chance of scoring game,
or he has reason to think he can force and defeat an adverse two
No-trumps, or the No-trump bidder is a player who considers it the part
of weakness to allow his declaration to be easily taken away, and can,
therefore, be forced to dangerous heights.

This is an opportunity for the Second Hand to use all his judgment. The
Dealer may be taking desperate chances with a weak No-trumper, and the
balance of strength may be with his partner and himself, in which case
it is important for him now to show his colors; yet he must always keep
in mind that conservatism, in the long run, is the main factor of
Auction success. It is the ability (possibly "instinct" is the proper
term) to act wisely in such cases that makes a bidder seem inspired.

With a strong Club or Diamond holding and a reëntry, such a hand as,
for example,--

    Spades    Two small
    Hearts    Two small
    Diamonds  King, Queen, Knave, and two small
    Clubs     Ace, Knave, Ten, Nine

it is generally unwise to bid Second Hand over one No-trump.

There is little danger of the adversaries going game in No-trumps, but
they may easily do so in Hearts or Royals. A Second Hand declaration in
this position may point out to the opponents their safest route to
game, and is not apt to prove of material benefit, as with such hand,
eleven tricks against a No-trump is extremely improbable.

A similar principle presents itself when the holding is five of any
suit, headed by the four top honors, or even by the three top honors,
and no other strength. With such cards, the No-trump can almost
certainly be kept from going game, and if the partner be able to
assist, the declaration may be defeated. If, however, two of that suit
be called, the adversaries, not having it stopped, will not advance the
No-trump, but if sufficiently strong, will declare some other suit in
which they may score game.


Holding six or more of a suit, headed by Ace, King, Queen, some writers
have very properly called it an Auction "crime" to double. The question
arises, however, "What should the Second Hand do under such
circumstances?" A bid of two in his solid suit will eliminate any
chance of the No-trump being continued, and an adverse call of two
No-trumps is just what the holder of the solid suit most desires, as he
can double with comparative safety, being assured both of the success
of the double and of the improbability that the Declarer will be able
to take himself out.

There has been suggested to meet this emergency a declaration called
the "Shift." It consists in bidding two of a suit in which the Declarer
has little or no strength. For this purpose a suit of lower value than
the solid suit, should, if possible, be selected. The theory of the bid
is that either the original No-trump declarer or his partner, having
the suit securely stopped, will bid two No-trumps and that the double
can then be effectively produced. The advocates of the Shift urge that
should the worst happen, and the declaration be doubled, the player
making it can then shift (this situation giving the declaration its
name) to his real suit, and that no harm will ensue.

The trouble is that a double under such circumstances is not the worst
that can happen. When the Shift was first suggested, players were not
familiar with nor on the lookout for it. Success, or at least the
absence of failure, therefore, often attended its use. Now, however, it
is generally understood, and players will not either overbid or double
a declarer they suspect of it. They merely allow him to meet his doom
attempting, with weak Trumps, to win eight tricks against an adverse

While, therefore, at long intervals and under advantageous circumstances,
the Shift may be successfully utilized, against experienced players it
is a dangerous expedient, especially for any one known to be fond of
that character of declaration.

The conservative and safe course to follow with a holding of the
character described is to pass the one No-trump.


The bid of two No-trumps over one No-trump is a more or less spectacular
performance, that appeals to those fond of the theatrical. There are
some hands that justify it, but it is safe to say that in actual play
it is tried far more frequently than Second Hand holdings warrant.

Such a bid may be made with a strong suit--not of great length--and the
three other suits safely stopped, with the four suits stopped twice,
with a long solid Club or Diamond suit and two other suits stopped, or
with some similar, and, under the circumstances, equally unusual


With two Spades bid by the Dealer, if the Second Hand have a suit he
desires led against a No-trump, it is of the utmost importance that he
indicate it to his partner.

Under such conditions, the Second Hand should declare a suit headed by
King, Queen, Knave, or some similar combination, but should avoid
bidding a long, weak suit, as the No-trump declarer may hold Ace, Queen
of it, and the partner may, by the call, be invited to lead his King
into the jaws of death. Of course, if the hand contain reëntries, it
may be advisable to make such a bid, although even then it may
advantageously be delayed until the second round, since against a two
Spade declaration the Second Hand is sure of having another opportunity
to speak.

With three Spades declared by the Dealer, the Second Hand expects a
Royal from the Third Hand. He knows that he will have another chance to
bid, but, as he will then probably have to go much higher, it is just
as well not to wait if the hand contain any advantageous declaration.


The question of what amount of strength warrants the Second Hand in
bidding one No-trump, after a suit has been declared by the Dealer, is
somewhat difficult to accurately answer. It goes without saying that to
justify a No-trump under such circumstances, the Second Hand must have
much better than merely an average holding. The suit that the Dealer
has bid should be safely stopped, and when the declarer has only one
trick in that suit, at least four other tricks should be in sight.

Occasionally cases arise in which the Second Hand may bid one No-trump
over a suit declaration without the suit that has been declared being
stopped, but these are rare and such a call should only be made with
unusual strength, as it gives the partner the right to assume that the
adverse suit is stopped and he may consequently advance the No-trump to
dangerous figures.

It is probably a good rule that a No-trump should not be called over a
declared suit, that suit not being stopped, with a holding of less than
six sure tricks. Even with one stopper in the suit bid, it is generally
better to declare either Royals or Hearts in preference to No-trump,
provided the hand contain sufficient length and strength to warrant
such declaration.



Third Hand declarations can best be considered by dividing them into
three classes:--

1. When the Dealer has called one Spade, and the Second Hand passed.

2. When the Dealer has made an offensive declaration, and the Second
Hand passed.

3. When the Second Hand has declared.

The distinction between these three situations is so clearly drawn that
each is really a separate and distinct subject. They will be taken up


In the old days, when the Dealer's "one Spade" was without significance,
the Third Hand was always obliged to declare, in order to give the
Dealer the opportunity to get back into the game, as it was possible
that he had great strength. Now the Third Hand recognizes that there is
not the least obligation upon him to bid, and that it is inadvisable
for him to do so unless his hand be so strong that, even with a weak
partner, game is in sight, or unless it be important for him to
indicate to the Dealer what to lead if the Fourth Hand make the final

Should the Third Hand pass, and the Fourth Hand also pass, allowing the
one Spade declaration to stand, the liability of the Declarer cannot
exceed 100 points, but if the Third Hand bid, the liability becomes
unlimited. While the Dealer and Second Hand both have the right to
assume that their partners have an average percentage of the remaining
cards, the Third Hand is not justified in any such presumption, after
the Dealer, by bidding one Spade, has virtually waved the red flag.
True it is, a similar warning has appeared on the right, but if both
danger signals are to be believed, the only inference is that the
strength is massed on the left. The bidding by the Third Hand must,
therefore, be of a very different character from that of the Dealer or
Second Hand. He should not venture a No-trump unless he have four sure
tricks with the probability of more and at least three suits stopped.
When in doubt whether to declare No-trump or a suit, it is generally
wise for him to select the latter.

Third Hand suit declarations should be made under either of two

    (_a_) When the hand is so strong that there appears to be at
    least a fair chance for game with the suit he names as Trump.

    (_b_) When he expects a No-trump from the Fourth Hand and
    wishes to indicate to his partner the lead he desires.

In the former case, it is often good policy for the Third Hand to start
with a bid of two. This serves a double purpose, as it shows the Dealer
the character of the hand and helps to shut out an adverse declaration.

If the main idea of the bid be to indicate a lead, it is advisable to
make it on the first round, when one can be called, rather than wait
until it becomes necessary to bid two, which, against a No-trump, may
prove dangerous. If the Third Hand have any such combination as King,
Queen, Knave, with one or more others of that suit, and a reëntry, a
declaration at this stage is most important, as unless the partner open
that suit, it will probably never be established against a No-trump.
Even if the long suit be headed by Queen, Knave, it may be important to
show it, as the partner may hold an honor, in which case the suit may
be quickly established. When the long suit is headed by a Knave, it
should not be shown unless the hand contain more than one reëntry. It
may be so necessary for the Third Hand, in the position under
consideration, to indicate a lead that no absolute strength
requirement, such as a fixed number of tricks, is essential for a bid.
It frequently keeps the adverse No-trumper from going game to have the
right suit called originally--otherwise, the Dealer has to lead his own
suit, and when the Third Hand is without strength in it, such a lead
greatly facilitates the Declarer.


One of the cardinal principles of harmonious team play is that when the
partner has made a suit declaration which is apt to result in game, it
is inadvisable to "take him out" merely with the hope of obtaining a
slightly higher score. Suppose the partner has declared a Heart and the
Third Hand holds three Hearts, headed by the Ace, four Clubs headed by
the King, no Diamonds, and five Spades with three honors. Of course,
the partner may have an honor and some other Spades, and, therefore, a
bid of Royals may produce a higher count than Hearts, but that is only
"may." The Declarer certainly has Heart strength, and the Third Hand,
valuable assistance. It takes the same number of tricks to score game
in each suit. Why, therefore, risk the game for a paltry addition to
the trick and honor score?

One of the most remarkable features of Auction is the extraordinary
desire, exhibited by a large percentage of players, to play the
combined hands. This comment is not applicable to a strong player, who,
for the good of the partnership, is anxious to get the declaration
himself, in order that during the play two or three tricks may not be
presented to the adversaries, but is intended for the general run of
cases where the partners are of equal, or nearly equal, ability.

A player, before determining to overbid his partner's call, should
remember that one of the greatest pleasures of the game is facing the
Dummy, especially when the declaration is apt to be successful, and he
should assure himself beyond peradventure that, in bidding his own suit
in preference to advancing his partner's, he is not in any way
influenced by his own selfish desires. He should be sure that, with the
positions reversed, he would thoroughly approve of just such action by
his partner; and, if his partner be the better player, he should also
convince himself that his suit is at least two tricks stronger, as his
partner's superior play probably makes a difference of at least one in
favor of his declaration.

It should be put down as axiomatic that, when a partner takes out a
Heart or Royal with a bid of another suit, he denies strength in the
suit originally declared and announces great length with probably four
honors in the suit he names; also, that when a Heart or Royal is taken
out by a No-trump declaration (except with a four-Ace holding), not
only is weakness in the declared suit announced, but also the fact that
every other suit is safely stopped.

This must not be understood as a suggestion that a partner should
seldom be overbid. Quite the reverse. The informatory school of modern
bidding, which attempts, as nearly as possible, to declare the two
hands as one, has as an essential feature the overbidding of the
partner in an infinite number of cases. It is against the foolish and
selfish instances which occur with great frequency that this protest is


When the Dealer bids two Spades, he gives explicit information
regarding the contents of his hand.[9] The Third Hand is, therefore,
practically in the position of having twenty-six cards spread before
him, and the question of what he should declare is not apt to be at all

      [9] See page 47.

If his hand be trickless, or practically so, he must bid one Royal, as
that reduces the commitment from two tricks to one, and increases the
possible gain per trick from 2 points to 9.

It is a noncommittal bid, as it may be made with great weakness or
moderate strength. With considerable Spade strength, however, two
Royals should be declared.

When the Third Hand has other than Spade strength, he will, of course,
bid in accordance with his holding, but it goes without saying that he
should make the best possible use of the accurate information he has
received. With four strong Spades, even with sufficient additional
strength to justify a weak No-trump, a Royal is generally preferable,
and with more than four Spades, two Royals is unquestionably the bid,
regardless of the strength of the remainder of the hand, unless, of
course, it contain the much looked for, but seldom found, four Aces.


When the Dealer has called three Spades, the Third Hand has quite
accurate data with which to work.[10] In this case, even if his hand be
trickless, he must bid one Royal, as his partner's three Spades might
otherwise be left in by the Fourth Hand. With some strength in other
suits, one Royal is his bid, unless his cards justify him in telling
the Dealer that, in spite of the announced long, weak Spades, the
combined hands are apt to sail more smoothly and on more peaceful seas
to the port called "Game" by the No-trump than by the suggested Royal

      [10] See page 49.

Should the Third Hand overbid three Spades with either Hearts,
Diamonds, or Clubs, he shows great strength in the suit named and
absolute weakness in Spades; the bid of two Royals shows assistance in
Spades, and probably other strength.


When the Dealer has called one Club or one Diamond, the Third Hand (the
score being love) must realize that going game with the declaration
made is most unlikely. He should, therefore, overbid it whenever he has
sufficient strength to justify such action. With strong Hearts or
Spades, he should bid Hearts or Royals; without such Heart or Spade
strength, but with three tricks and two suits stopped, he should bid
No-trump. In the rare case in which game seems probable with the Club
or Diamond declaration, he should advance his partner's call to two or


When the Dealer has called two Clubs or two Diamonds with the score at
love, the Third Hand should allow the declaration to stand, unless his
Heart or Spade holding be such that he believes, with the assistance of
his partner's Club or Diamond suit, he may win the game; or unless able
to bid two No-trumps. With the information that his partner has an
established suit, it does not require much strength to justify the two
No-trumps call. With all the other suits stopped, no matter how weakly,
the bid is imperative. With two securely stopped, it is advisable, but
with only one stopped, it is entirely out of the question.

With a score in the trick column, the Third Hand will treat either a
one or two Club or Diamond declaration just as, with the score at love,
he treats a similar call in Hearts or Royals.


When the Dealer bids one Heart or one Royal, the Third Hand should not
overbid unless without strength in the declaration. By this is meant
not only the absence of high cards, but also the absence of length.
With four small Hearts or Spades, and that suit bid by the Dealer, it
is almost invariably the part of wisdom to allow it to remain.

The Third Hand should bid one Royal over one Heart, or two Hearts over
one Royal with strength sufficient to justify an original call in that
suit, and distinct weakness in the partner's declaration. The theory is
that the Third Hand knows he cannot help his partner's declaration,
while it is possible his partner may help him.

When the Third Hand has such strength in Hearts or Royals that he would
advance his partner's declaration of either, in the event of an adverse
bid, it is wise for him to bid two on the first round, in order, if
possible, to shut out such adverse declaration and the information
thereby given to the leader.

The Third Hand should call two Diamonds or Clubs over one Heart or
Royal when he holds a long and practically solid suit. The original
bidder can then use his judgment whether to let this declaration stand,
continue his own, or try two No-trumps.

With a score, two Clubs or Diamonds may be bid more freely over the
partner's Heart or Royal.

The Third Hand should not bid a No-trump over the Dealer's Heart or
Royal, unless he have the three remaining suits safely stopped, or his
hand contain solid Diamonds or Clubs, and one other suit stopped.


The declaration of two Hearts or two Royals is practically a command to
the partner not to alter the call. It indicates at least six sure
tricks, probably more, and a valuable honor count, in the Declarer's
hand, provided the suit named be the Trump. The Third Hand should only
change such a declaration when convinced beyond reasonable doubt that
his holding is so unusual that he is warranted in assuming the
responsibility of countermanding the order that has issued.

Weakness in the Trump and strength in some other suit is far from being
a sufficient justification, as the chances are that the Dealer is weak
in the suit of the Third Hand, and called "two" mainly for the purpose
of keeping it from being named. To overbid two Royals or Hearts with
three Diamonds or Clubs is obviously absurd, unless holding _five
honors_ and such other strength that game is assured.

To overbid two Hearts with two Royals, or two Royals with three Hearts,
is almost tantamount to saying, "Partner, I know you are trying to shut
out this declaration, but I am strong enough to insist upon it." Such
action is only justified by 64 or 72 honors, and a sure game.

To overbid two Hearts or two Royals with two No-trumps, as a rule,
means 100 Aces. High-card strength assures the game in the partner's
call with probably a big honor score; only the premium of 100 makes the
change advisable.

With strength, in the case under consideration, the Third Hand should
advance his partner's call with much greater confidence than if it were
an ordinary bid of one. He should not worry even if absolutely void of
Trumps; in that suit his partner has announced great length as well as
commanding cards; Aces and Kings of the other suits are what the
Declarer wishes to find in his hand, and with them he should bid

The same line of comment applies with even greater force to the action
of the Third Hand when the Dealer has bid three Royals or three Hearts.


When the Dealer bids one No-trump and the Third Hand holds five or more
of any suit, one of the most disputed questions of Auction presents

The conservative player believes that with five Hearts or Spades,
inasmuch as but one more trick is required to secure game, it is safer
to bid two Hearts or Royals, except, of course, when the Third Hand, in
addition to a five-card suit, has the three remaining suits stopped.
The theory is that if the combined hands are very strong, the winning
of the game is absolutely assured with the suit in question the Trump,
but may possibly be lost in the No-trump by the adversaries running a
long suit. The chance of a hostile suit being established is
unquestionably worthy of the consideration of the Third Hand whenever,
with great strength in Hearts or Spades, he allows his partner's
No-trump to stand. Five adverse tricks prevent a game. In the majority
of cases, the leader opens a five-card suit. When it is not stopped,
the game is saved by the adversaries before the powerful No-trump hand
can get in; if it be stopped but once, the game is still in grave
danger unless the Declarer take nine tricks before losing the lead.

With a Heart or Royal declaration the adversaries are not apt to take
more than two tricks in their long suit, which, at No-trumps, may
produce four or five (in rare cases six), and yet the Trump bid
requires only one more trick for game.

It is unquestionably true that, with great strength, the game will be
won nine times out of ten with the No-trump declaration, but in every
such case it is absolutely "cinched" by the Heart or Royal call.

It is further argued that, when the combined hands are not quite so
strong, a game is more frequently won with the Trump declaration, as
the small Trumps are sure to take tricks, but the long suit may not be
established in the No-trumper.

The believers in taking a chance, however, view the situation from the
opposite standpoint. Their argument is that the game requires one more
trick, when a Trump is declared, but does not count as much, that the
original declarer may be weak in the suit named, yet strong in all the
others, and therefore, with a good hand, it is wiser to leave the
No-trump alone.

It is possible that the question is one rather of the temperament of
the player than of card judgment. It is susceptible of almost
mathematical deduction that five or more cards of a long suit are of
greater trick-taking value when that suit is the Trump than when
No-trump is being played, and it does not require any argument to
substantiate the proposition that the slight difference in the score,
between the total in the trick and honor columns netted from a game
made without a Trump and a game made with Royals or Hearts, is so
infinitesimal as not to be worthy of consideration. Nevertheless,
players possessed of a certain temperament will, for example, refuse to
overbid a partner's No-trump with Ace, King, Ten, and two small Spades,
King of Hearts, and Ace of Diamonds, on the ground that the hand is too
strong, although the No-trump bid may have been thoroughly justified by
such a holding as Ace, Queen, Knave, of Hearts; King, Queen, Knave, of
Diamonds; and Queen, Knave, of Spades. In that event it is practically
sure the adversaries will open the Club suit and save the game before
the Declarer has a chance to win a trick. This and similar situations
occur with sufficient frequency to make them well worthy of
consideration, and when such a hand fails to make game, it certainly
seems to be a perfect example of what might be termed "useless

In spite of all this, however, probably as long as the game lasts, in
the large proportion of hands in which the taking-out does not make any
difference, the Declarer will say, "With such strength you should have
let my No-trump alone"; or the Dummy will learnedly explain, "I was too
strong to take you out."

It would be in the interest of scientific play, if, except when all
suits are stopped, the theory, "Too strong to take the partner out of
the No-trump," had never been conceived, and would never again be

The same comment applies with equal force to the remark so often heard,
"Partner, I was too weak to take you out."

This generally emanates from a Third Hand who has a five- or six-card
suit in a trickless hand. He does not stop to realize that his hand
will not aid his partner's No-trump to the extent of a single trick,
but that in a Trump declaration, it will almost certainly take two
tricks. The Trump bid only increases the commitment by one, so it is
obviously a saving and advantageous play. Furthermore, it prevents the
adversaries from running a long suit. It, also, in Clubs and Diamonds,
is a real danger signal, and, in the probable event of a bid by the
Fourth Hand, warns the partner away from two No-trumps.

The advocates of the weakness take-out realize that in exceptional
instances the play may result most unfortunately. When the Dealer has
called a border-line No-trump, without any strength in the suit named
by the Third Hand, and one of the adversaries has great length and
strength in that suit, a heavy loss is bound to ensue, which may be
increased 100 by the advance of the bid from one to two. This case is,
indeed, rare, and when it does turn up the chances are that the
Declarer will escape a double, as the holder of the big Trumps will
fear the Dealer may be able to come to the rescue if he point out the
danger by doubling the suit call.

The fact, however, that a play at times works badly is not a sufficient
argument against its use, if in the majority of cases it prove
advantageous, and that is unquestionably true of the weakness take-out.

The strength take-out, above advocated, applies only to Spades and
Hearts. With Diamonds and Clubs, at a love score, the distance to go
for game is in most cases too great to make it advisable, but the
weakness take-out should be used equally with any one of the four
suits, as it is a defensive, not an offensive, declaration. With a
score, Clubs and Diamonds possess the same value that Hearts and Spades
have at love, and should be treated similarly.


The question of whether the Third Hand, with strong Clubs, should
overbid his partner's No-trump has aroused considerable discussion. The
argument in favor of such a declaration in Clubs, which does not apply
to any other suit, is that the difference between a strength and a
weakness overbid can be made apparent by calling three and two
respectively, and yet the show of strength will not force the Dealer
higher than two No-trumps, when his hand is such that the announcement
that the Third Hand holds strong Clubs, but nothing else, makes the
return to No-trump advisable.

On this basis of reasoning some believe in calling three Clubs whenever
an otherwise trickless Third Hand contains five or more Clubs headed by
Ace, King, Queen. This, it is conceded, only results advantageously
when the No-trump has been called with one suit unguarded, and Clubs is
one of the protected suits. When the No-trump has been declared with
such a hand as

    Spades    Ace, King, X
    Hearts    X
    Diamonds  Ace, King, Knave, X, X
    Clubs     Knave, Ten, X, X

the employment of such a system of declaration is exceptionally
advantageous; as the game is assured in Clubs, while if the No-trump be
left in, the adversaries will probably save it by making all their
Hearts before the Declarer secures the lead.

It is admitted that this case is somewhat unusual, but the advocates of
the system, conceding this, argue it is advantageous to have this bid
in the repertory, and, in the exceptional instance, to obtain the
benefit, which is bound to ensue from its use. The contention is that
it can do no harm, with such a Club holding, to force the partner to
two No-trumps, if he have all the other suits stopped, and the fact
that three Clubs is called with strength more clearly accentuates the
principle that the two Club takeout means nothing but weakness.

Admitting the force of this argument, and conceding that the system
advocated should be universally adopted were there not a wiser use for
the three Club take-out, first brings forth the question of whether the
case does not more frequently arise in which the long Club holding of
the Third Hand is headed by King and Queen, and is it not much more
probable, when the Third Hand has _long_ Clubs, that the No-trump
maker has the suit stopped with the Ace than with _four_ headed by
Knave, Ten?

It must be remembered that the three Club take-out with Ace, King,
Queen, at the head of five or more, is only advantageous when the
No-trump has been called with a hand in which only three suits are
stopped, of which the Club is one. If the Club be the suit unstopped,
the call merely forces an advance in the No-trump.

If, however, the convention be to use three Clubs to overbid the
partner's No-trump only when holding an otherwise trickless hand which
contains either at least five Clubs headed by King, Queen, Knave, or at
least six headed by King, Queen, would not the number of instances in
which the call proves of benefit appreciably increase, and would not
every reason applicable in the former case be even more forceful in the

It cannot be questioned that the partner having called No-trump, the
Third Hand is more likely to hold either five Clubs headed by King,
Queen, Knave, or six headed by King, Queen, than five or more headed by
Ace, King, Queen. The greater probability that the Dealer will have the
Ace than four headed by Knave, Ten, is just as obvious.

Take such a No-trump declaration as

    Spades    Ace, King, Knave
    Hearts    X, X
    Diamonds  Ace, King, Knave, X, X
    Clubs     Ace, X, X

and the advantage of the proposed system becomes apparent. The game,
which is almost sure to be lost by the Heart lead in No-trump, becomes
almost a certainty with Clubs Trump. When this plan is used and the
Dealer has the other suits stopped but has not the Ace of Clubs, he can
easily decide whether to go to two No-trumps, as he can estimate from
the length of his Club holding whether he can establish the long Clubs
or the adverse Ace will block the suit. When the latter is the case, he
should not bid two No-trumps unless his own hand justify it, as the
Third Hand has announced the absence of a reëntry.

Take such a No-trump declaration as

    Spades    Ace
    Hearts    Ace, King, X
    Diamonds  Ace, King, X, X, X, X
    Clubs     X, X, X

and suppose the Third Hand hold one or two small Diamonds; six Clubs,
headed by King, Queen, Knave, and no other face card.

In such a case Clubs is the call most likely to produce game.

Another and possibly the wisest theory of the three Club take-out, is
that it should be reserved, not for any one particular holding which
may not occur once in a year, but for any hand in which the Declarer
wishes to say, "Partner, my cards are such that I believe we can go
game in Clubs; with this information, use your judgment as to whether
or not to return to your more valuable declaration."


In this connection, a new scheme of take-out is respectfully called to
the attention of the thoughtful and studious Auction players of the
country. It is not in general use, is not recognized as conventional,
has never been given a satisfactory trial, and is, therefore, suggested
merely as an experiment worthy of consideration.

The idea is that when a partner has called one No-trump, Second Hand
having passed, the Third Hand with five or more Spades or Hearts,
unless he have four suits stopped, should bid his long suit in the
following manner: if the hand be weak, the bid should be two; if
strong, three. This warns the Dealer, when two is called, to let the
declaration alone, as it is defensive.

On the other hand, when three is bid, the Dealer knows that his partner
is strong, and he may then use his judgment as to the advisability of
allowing the bid to stand or going back to the No-trump, which he can
do without increasing the number of tricks of the commitment.

It must be remembered that, with great strength, it is as easy to make
three No-trumps as one, three are needed for game, and, therefore,
nothing is lost by the expedient.

Playing under this system, should the Third Hand hold four or five
honors in his suit, and earnestly desire to play it for the honor
score, it would be a perfectly legitimate strategy to deceive the
partner temporarily by bidding two, instead of three.


When the Dealer has bid one No-trump and the Second Hand passed, the
Third Hand, much more frequently than most players imagine,
should call two No-trumps. It must be remembered that should the Third
Hand pass, the Fourth Hand can, by bidding two of a suit, indicate to
his partner the lead he desires. This places the adversaries in a much
more advantageous position than if the leader open his own suit without
information from his partner. The bid of two No-trumps by the Third
Hand generally prevents the Fourth Hand from declaring, as it
necessitates a call of three, which, sitting between two No-trump
bidders, is, in most cases, too formidable a contract to undertake.

It is, therefore, advisable for the Third Hand, on the first round, to
advance, from one to two, his partner's No-trump declaration, in every
instance in which, in the event of an adverse bid, he is strong enough
to call two No-trumps. This convention, while as yet comparatively new,
and, therefore, but little used, works most advantageously, as it
frequently shuts out the only lead which can keep the No-trump from
going game. It is important for every player to understand the scheme,
and never to overlook an opportunity to make the declaration.


This situation involves so many possibilities that it is hard to cover
it with fixed rules.

The Third Hand in this position should reason in very much the same
manner as the Second Hand, after the Dealer has made a declaration
showing strength.[11] There is this distinct difference, however: in the
case of the Second Hand, he only knows that the Dealer has sufficient
strength to declare, and is without any means, other than the doctrine
of chances, of estimating the strength of his partner's hand. The Third
Hand, however, in the situation under consideration, is not only
advised that one adversary has sufficient strength to declare, but also
knows whether his partner's cards justify an initial bid. When the
Dealer has shown strength, he can be counted upon for at least the
minimum that his bid has evidenced; when he has called "one Spade," it
would not be wise to expect him to win more than one trick.

      [11] See page 72.

The Third Hand should consider these features of the situation, and
satisfy himself, when his partner has not shown strength, that he is
taking a wise risk in bidding over an adverse declaration. To justify a
call of No-trump over a Trump, he should either have the declared suit
stopped twice or, if it be stopped but once, he should also have solid
Clubs or Diamonds. When the Dealer has declared Hearts or Royals, and
the Second Hand made a higher suit call, it is, as a rule, wiser for
the Third Hand to advance his partner's declaration than to venture a
No-trump unless he have the adverse suit stopped twice.

When the Dealer has bid No-trump and the Second Hand two of any suit,
the Third Hand should not bid two No-trump unless he have the declared
suit stopped and at least one other trick. Without the declared suit
stopped, he should not bid two No-trump unless his hand be so strong
that he can figure with almost positive certainty that the No-trump bid
of his partner could not have been made without the adverse suit being
stopped. When in doubt, under such conditions, as to the advisability
of either bidding two No-trumps or some suit, the latter policy is
generally the safer.

When the Dealer has called No-trump and the Second Hand two of a suit,
the Third Hand must realize that his partner has already been taken
out, and therefore, under no circumstances, should he bid in this
situation, except for the purpose of showing strength; or with the
conviction that, aided by his partner's No-trump, he can fulfil the
contract he is proposing. For example, Dealer bids one No-trump; Second
Hand, two Royals; Third Hand holds six Hearts, headed by the Knave,
without another trick. Under these conditions, a Heart bid would be
most misleading, and probably most damaging. The Dealer may not be able
to help the Heart declaration, and he may very properly be encouraged
by it to believe that the Third Hand has considerable strength,
especially in Hearts, but is very weak in Spades. If, in consequence of
this supposed information, he return to his No-trump declaration, or
double an adverse three Royals, the result is apt to be extremely

The Third Hand must distinguish this case carefully from the situation
in which the Dealer has bid one No-trump and the Second Hand passed.
With the combination mentioned, he should then, of course, most
unhesitatingly take out his partner by bidding two Hearts; that bid,
under such circumstances, not showing strength.

Another situation that arises more frequently than would be supposed,
and the advantage of which it is most important for the Third Hand to
grasp, is when the Dealer has bid No-trump; the Second Hand, two of a
suit; and the Third Hand, without the adverse suit stopped, holds great
strength in Clubs, with such a hand that he desires his partner to go
to two No-trumps; provided he have the adversaries' suit stopped. The
bid of three Clubs does not increase the No-trump commitment which the
partner is obliged to make, and is much safer than for the Third Hand
to bid two No-trumps without the adverse suit stopped. It is a
suggestion to the partner to bid two No-trumps, provided he can take
care of the suit which the Second Hand has declared.



Some of the principles that have been considered in connection with
certain Second and Third Hand bids are also applicable to similar
Fourth Hand declarations. These are easily pointed out, but the bidding
by the Fourth Hand presents other problems much more difficult.

Each player who has an opportunity to declare materially complicates
the situation, and makes it harder to accurately describe. As three
players declare or pass before the Fourth Hand has his turn, it is
almost impossible to anticipate every contingency that may arise. The
best that can be done is to subdivide Fourth Hand declarations as

1. When the Dealer's defensive declaration has been the only bid.

2. When the only offensive declaration has been made by the Dealer.

3. When the only offensive declaration has been made by the Second

4. When the only offensive declaration has been made by the Third Hand.

5. When the Dealer has made a defensive, and both the Second and Third
Hand, offensive declarations.

6. When the Dealer and Second Hand have made offensive declarations and
the Third Hand passed.

7. When the Dealer and Third Hand have made offensive declarations, and
the Second Hand passed.

8. When all three players have made offensive declarations.


As a general rule, when this situation arises, the Fourth Hand holds a
combination of cards which makes his bid unmistakable. The other three
players having shown weakness, or, at least, the absence of offensive
strength, the Fourth Hand almost invariably has a No-trumper of such
strength that his pathway is plain. Of course, his hand may, by reason
of Spade or Heart length, call for a Royal or Heart declaration in
preference to a No-trumper, but nevertheless, under these
circumstances, it is generally easy for the Fourth Hand to declare.

When, however, the exceptional case occurs, in which the Fourth Hand
finds himself, no previous offensive declaration having been made,
without a plainly indicated bid, it is difficult to lay down a rule for
his guidance. Three players have shown weakness, and yet his cards
assure him that one or more of them is either unduly cautious, has
passed by mistake, or is trying to deceive. If the strength be with his
partner, it may be that, by passing, he will lose an opportunity to
secure the game. On the other hand, if the adversaries have the winning
cards, he may, by declaring, allow them to make a game declaration,
whereas they are now limited to an infinitesimal score.

He must also consider that, should he pass, the maximum he and his
partner can secure is 100 points in the honor column. This is a
position to which conventional rules cannot apply. The individual
characteristics of the players must be considered. The Fourth Hand must
guess which of the three players is the most apt to have been cautious,
careless, or "foxy," and he should either pass or declare, as he
decides whether it is more likely that his partner or one of the two
adversaries is responsible for his predicament.

It sometimes, although rarely, happens that the strength not in the
Fourth Hand is so evenly divided that no one of the three has been
justified in making an offensive declaration, and yet the Fourth Hand
is not very strong. When this occurs, a clever player can as a rule
readily and accurately diagnose it from the character of his hand, and
he should then pass, as he cannot hope to make game on an evenly
divided hand, while as it stands he has the adversaries limited to a
score of 2 points for each odd trick, yet booked for a loss of 50 if
they fail to make seven tricks; 100, if they do not make six. In other
words, they are betting 25 to 1 on an even proposition. Such a position
is much too advantageous to voluntarily surrender.

It is hardly conceivable that any one would advocate that a Fourth Hand
player with a sure game in his grasp, instead of scoring it, should
allow the adverse "one Spade" to stay in for the purpose of securing
the 100 bonus.

Inasmuch, however, as this proposition has been advanced by a prominent
writer, it is only fair that its soundness should be analyzed.

The argument is that the score which is accumulated in going game is
generally considerably less than 100, averaging not over 60, and that,
therefore, the bonus of 100 is more advantageous. The example is given
of a pair who adopted these tactics, and on one occasion gathered eight
successive hundreds in this manner, eventually obtaining a rubber of
approximately 1150 points instead of one of about 350.

The answer to any such proposition is so self-evident that it is
difficult to understand how it can be overlooked. It is true that a
game-going hand does not average over 60 points, which is 40 less than
100, but a game is half of a rubber. Winning a rubber is worth 250,
without considering the 250 scored by the adversaries, if they win. A
game, at its lowest valuation, is, therefore, worth 125 plus 60, or 85
more than the 100.

Examining the case cited, it will be seen that even had the pair, who
are so highly praised for their self-control in scoring eight hundred
before going game, known that for ten successive hands they would hold
all the cards, and, therefore, that they had nothing to fear from
adverse rubber scores of 250, they, nevertheless, made but poor use of
their wonderful opportunities. If, instead of accumulating that 800,
they had elected to win five rubbers, they would have tallied at the
most moderate estimate five times 350, or 1750, in place of the 1150 of
which they boast.

If, however, during that run of luck the adversaries had held two game
hands--say, the 5th and 10th, the exponents of self-control would have
made on the ten hands about 450 points, instead of approximately 1350,
which would have been secured by players who realized the value of a

In the event of an even and alternate division of game hands, the
non-game winners at the end of twelve hands would have lost three
rubbers and won none, as compared with an even score had they availed
themselves of their opportunities.

It is, therefore, easily seen that the closer the investigation, the
more apparent becomes the absurdity of the doctrine that it is
advantageous to sacrifice a game for a score of 100.


In this case the Fourth Hand, before making a declaration in any manner
doubtful, should remember that his partner has, by failing to declare,
announced that he has not sufficient strength to overbid the Dealer.
This does not, however, signify that he has a trickless hand, and the
Fourth Hand may even yet count upon him for some support. There are two
features--both of importance--one weighing in favor, the other against,
a declaration under these circumstances. One is, that the strength
being over the Fourth Hand, he is placed in the worst possible position
in the play, and there is more probability of his being doubled than
under any other conditions. If he be doubled, it is not likely that his
partner can take him out or prove of material assistance, as the double
is apt to come in the case in which the partner has passed with a
practically trickless hand.

On the other hand, the lead is with the partner, and especially when a
No-trump has been declared, it may be of great advantage to indicate
the suit which should be led. The Fourth Hand should, therefore, if
possible avoid placing a large bonus in the adversaries' column, yet he
should not hesitate to take a chance when his hand indicates that the
lead of a certain suit will be likely to save game.

In the event of a Dealer's declaration which is not apt to produce game
coming up to the Fourth Hand, he should pass, unless his holding
convince him that he will be able to go game should he declare.


In this situation the Fourth Hand is in much the same position as the
Third Hand when the Dealer has made an offensive declaration, and the
Second Hand passed.[12] The only difference is that the Fourth Hand
knows that both of the adversaries are apparently weak, whereas in the
previous case the Third Hand had that information as to only one. The
Fourth Hand can, therefore, act much more freely, and should, if in any
way possible, increase a declaration which is not apt to result in game
to one of the three game-producing bids. At a love score, a Club or
Diamond declaration should be allowed to stand in two cases only:--

    (_a_) Weakness, which does not make any further declaration

    (_b_) A combination of cards which makes it probable the Club
    or Diamond call will result in game.

      [12] See page 86.

When the Second Hand has declared No-trump, Royals, or Hearts, his bid
should be accorded exactly the same treatment that a similar call of
the Dealer receives from the Third Hand.[13]

      [13] See page 86.

Neither a two nor three Spade declaration made by the partner should
under any circumstances, be passed. In these cases, the Fourth Hand can
have little doubt what course to pursue. His partner's hand is spread
before him almost as clearly as if exposed upon the table.[14] With
weakness, or with a moderate hand, he should bid one Royal, this being
merely a takeout, and not giving any indication of strength. In this
position he is placed in the same situation as the Third Hand when the
Dealer has made a similar declaration,[15] and these two propositions
are the only instances in the modern game of Auction where a player
without strength is required to assume the offensive. No matter how
weak the hand may be, the Fourth Hand must declare one Royal, so as to
reduce the contract, and also to increase the advantage obtained from
its fulfillment. The partner must read "one Royal" to be an indication
of weakness, or, at least, not a showing of strength.

      [14] See pages 67-72 inc.

      [15] See pages 88, 89, 90.

With Spade length or strength, the Fourth Hand, especially in the case
of the three Spade declaration, should bid two Royals. If he declare
anything but Royals, he says to the partner, "I realize perfectly what
you have, but my hand convinces me that the declaration I am making
will be more advantageous than the one you have suggested."

In the event of one Spade doubled coming to the Fourth Hand, he is also
accurately informed as to his partner's holding, and suggestion.[16] In
this case, it is the rare hand which does not warrant an offensive

      [16] See pages 65, 66.

It is not so great an advantage for the Fourth Hand to call two
No-trumps over one No-trump declared by the Second Hand as it is for
the Third Hand to similarly overbid the Dealer.[17] The reason for this
is, that the main purpose of this overbid by the Third Hand is to
prevent the Fourth Hand from indicating the suit he desires his partner
to lead, but the Dealer, having already declared weakness, is not so
likely to be able to make a bid which will in any way interfere with
the success of a No-trumper. It is, however, not at all impossible that
a declaration of the Dealer's long weak suit, especially when the
Second Hand has an honor or two of it, may be awkward for the No-trump
declarer, and therefore, with the holding which justifies it, the bid
of two No-trumps, under these conditions, is distinctly commendable.

      [17] See pages 108, 109.


In this position the Fourth Hand is informed of his partner's weakness.
This weakness is probably quite pronounced, as the Second Hand has
passed the Dealer's defensive declaration, and although it is doubtless
reasonable for the Fourth Hand even yet to count upon his partner for
one trick, he certainly would not be justified in expecting much
greater aid. It is a place for caution; although he is in the
advantageous position of sitting over the adverse strength, he should
bid only if he see a fair chance for game, or think his hand is such
that he may safely attempt to force the adversary.


In this situation, the Fourth Hand comes more nearly within the
category of a second round, or late bidder; that is, he is in the
position in which a player often finds himself when, after some bidding
in which he has not participated, he is in doubt whether he has
sufficient strength to advance his partner's declaration.

Under such circumstances, a player should always remember that his
partner has counted upon him for a certain percentage of high cards. If
he have not more than that percentage, it would be the part of extreme
folly for him to declare. When the partner has made a suit declaration,
and he has weakness in the suit, but some strength elsewhere, he should
be especially careful, and, before bidding, convince himself that his
side strength is more than his partner expected. Advancing a partner's
suit bid by reason of strength in other suits, while, when the strength
warrants it, unquestionably sound, is apt to deceive the partner, as
his first thought necessarily is that the bid indicates help in the
suit declared.

When the partner has declared No-trump, and the Third Hand has called
two in a suit, the Fourth Hand is in much the same position regarding
the advancement of his partner's No-trumper as the Third Hand when the
Dealer bids a No-trump, and the Second Hand, two of a suit.[18] The only
difference is that in this case there is little probability of
high-card strength being developed on the left.

      [18] See page 111.


It is an exceptional hand which justifies taking the partner out of a
suit declaration, called over a No-trump bid by the Dealer. The partner
has the advantage of sitting over the Dealer, while the Dealer would
have this same advantage should the Fourth Hand declare some other

In this position the partner having bid two Clubs or Diamonds, the
Fourth Hand, with the other three suits stopped, is justified in
assuming that the original No-trump was made with the minimum strength,
and the chance of game, as the declaration stands, being remote, should
try a bid of two No-trumps.

When the Dealer has declared a suit, and the Second Hand, No-trump, the
Fourth Hand should overbid the Second with a suit declaration (except,
of course, in the almost inconceivable case in which the strength of
the Fourth Hand is in the suit named by the Dealer), with the same
holding that the Third Hand is justified in overbidding the Dealer's

      [19] See pages 96-108 inc.


In this case, both adversaries having shown strength, and the partner
weakness, it is dangerous for the Fourth Hand to declare, and he should
do so only when his holding convinces him that his declaration is not
likely to be successfully doubled.


This case is entirely analogous to the second round or late bidding,
and is covered under the head of CONTINUATION OF THE BIDDING.



After the completion of the first round, the situation of the bidder
becomes so complex that it is most difficult to apply general rules.
Some principles, however, should be borne in mind.

Bidding one Spade, or passing, places a player with two tricks in a
position to increase his partner's call; but when a bidder has already
shown the full strength, or practically the full strength, of his hand,
he should not, under any circumstances, advance either his own or his
partner's declaration. The temptation to disregard this rule is at
times exceedingly strong. For example, the dealer declares one Heart,
holding King, Queen, at the top of five Hearts, and the Ace of Spades.
The partner calls one No-trump, and the Fourth Hand, two Royals. In
such case, the original Heart bidder frequently advances the No-trump
to two, because he has the adverse suit stopped, without considering
that his partner, in bidding one No-trump, counted upon him for either
that Ace of Spades, or the equivalent strength, and, therefore, he
should leave the question of the continuance of the No-trump to the
player who knows its exact strength.

Another example of this proposition may be worthy of consideration. The
dealer holds

    Spades    X, X, X
    Hearts    Ace, X
    Diamonds  King, Knave, Ten, X, X
    Clubs     X, X, X

He bids one Diamond; Second Hand, pass; Third Hand, one Heart; Fourth
Hand, one Royal.

In this position a thoughtless player might call two Hearts, but such a
declaration would greatly exaggerate the value of the hand. The dealer
by his first bid has announced his ability to take at least three
tricks if Diamonds be Trump, and at least two tricks if the deal be
played without a Trump. His hand justifies such a call, but that is
all; having declared his full strength, his lips must thereafter be

His partner is already counting upon him for two high-card tricks,
which is the maximum his hand can possibly produce; should he call two
Hearts on the basis of the Ace, the original Heart bidder would expect
assistance to the extent of at least three tricks. He might receive
only one.

If, however, the dealer's hand be

    Spades    X
    Hearts    X, X, X, X
    Diamonds  King, Knave, Ten, X, X
    Clubs     Ace, X, X

a very different proposition presents itself. While this combination,
had No-trump been called, would not be stronger than the other and
should not advance the bid, with Hearts Trump it is a most valuable
assistant, and being worth at least three tricks, is fully warranted in
calling at least two Hearts.

The fact that it contains four Hearts is one material element of
strength and the singleton Spade is another, neither of which has been
announced by the original call.

One of the most difficult tasks of the bidder is to accurately estimate
the number of tricks the combined hands of his partnership can
reasonably be expected to win. It sometimes occurs, especially in what
are known as "freak" hands, that one pair can take most of the tricks
with one suit declaration, while with another, their adversaries can be
equally successful. This is most apt to happen in two-suit hands, or
when length in Trumps is coupled with a cross-ruff. In the ordinary run
of evenly divided hands, there is not such great difference in the
trick-taking ability of two declarations. The player who, except with
an extraordinary hand, commits his side to ten or eleven tricks, after
the adversaries have shown that with another declaration they do not
expect to lose more than two or three, is extremely venturesome, and
apt to prove a dangerous partner. In normal deals, a change in the
Trump suit does not produce a shift of seven or eight tricks.


It is frequently most difficult for a bidder to determine whether he is
justified in advancing his own or his partner's declaration, and when
in doubt it is generally better to err on the side of conservatism.

The continuation of a No-trump without the adverse suit thoroughly
guarded is most dangerous, and should be risked only when the Declarer
is convinced beyond doubt that his holding justifies it, or when the
partner has shown that he can stop the threatening suit.

When the partner, either as Dealer or Second Hand, has declared one
No-trump, the bid has unquestionably been based upon the expectation of
average assistance, and unless able to furnish more, a higher call
should not be made. If, however, the partner bid twice, without aid,
two tricks unquestionably justifies assisting once.

The minimum trick-taking ability with which an original suit
declaration is made being appreciably greater than the number of tricks
contained in a border-line No-trumper, the former should be assisted
with less strength than is required to advance the latter. With two
sure tricks the partner's suit call should be helped once by a player
who has not declared, but whether a No-trump should be aided with just
two tricks and no chance of more is a question depending upon the
judgment of the bidder and upon whether one of the tricks is in the
adverse suit. With two sure high-card tricks and a five-card suit, but
without the adverse suit guarded, the five-card suit is generally the
call, especially if two in it will be sufficient. Three Clubs, however,
should not be declared without due consideration, as that declaration
is recognized as demanding two No-trumps from the partner if he have
the adverse suit stopped.

Being void or holding only a singleton of a suit, especially if it be
the suit declared by the adversary, is to be considered in reckoning
the trick-taking value of a hand which contemplates assisting a
partner's Trump declaration. For example, four small Hearts, the Ace
and three other Clubs, and five small Diamonds, when the partner has
called one Heart, are worth three or four tricks, although the hand
contains but one Ace and no face card. Holding such a combination, a
partner's bid of one Heart should be advanced at least twice.

When a declaration by the dealer is followed by two passes and an
overbid by the right-hand adversary, the dealer is frequently placed in
a doubtful position as to whether he should advance his own bid. Some
authorities contend that with less than six tricks he should wait for
his partner, and while no inflexible rule can be made to cover all such
cases, the follower of this proposition has probably adopted the safest

When the original call has been one No-trump, it is the part of wisdom
with less than six tricks, even if the adverse suit be stopped twice,
to give the partner a chance. If he can furnish more than two tricks,
he will declare, and the Dealer can then, if he so desire, continue the
No-trump, but to bid without first hearing from the partner is
obviously venturesome. If the Dealer have five tricks, that is enough
to save game, but is three tricks short of making two No-trumps.

When the Dealer has declared a strong No-trump with one unprotected
suit and his right-hand adversary calls two in that suit, it is
manifestly unwise to continue the No-trump. Holding six sure tricks in
a higher-valued suit or seven in a lower, it is probably wise to bid
two or three, as the exigencies of the case may require, in that suit.

In close cases, when advancing or declining to advance the partner's
bid, the personal equation should be a most important, if not the
deciding, factor. Some players are noted for their reckless declaring;
with such a partner the bidding must be ultra-conservative. Other
players do not regard conventional rules in their early declarations.
The bids of a partner of this kind should not be increased unless the
hand contain at least one trick more than the number that normally
would justify an advance.

When playing against a bidder who has the habit of overbidding, full
advantage should be taken of his weakness, and whenever possible he
should be forced to a high contract he may be unable to fulfil.

When a dealer who has opened with one Spade, or any other player who
has passed the first round, subsequently enters the bidding, he gives
unmistakable evidence of length but not strength. This is a secondary
declaration, and the maker plainly announces, "I will take many more
tricks with this suit Trump than any other; indeed, I may not win a
trick with any other Trump."

Overbidding a partner's secondary declaration, or counting upon it for
tricks when doubling an adversary who has overcalled it, shows
inexcusable lack of understanding of the modern system of declaring.


Overbidding a partner with a declaration which he has once taken out is
only authorized by an honor count which is of material value, or a sure
game. For example, if a player declare one Royal, holding four or five
honors, and the partner overbid with a No-trump, the original declarer
should bid two Royals; but without the big honor count it is wiser to
let the No-trump stand, as the partner has announced weakness in

The same line of reasoning should be followed when the partner has
called two of a suit over a No-trump. As a rule, under these
conditions, it is most unwise for the original No-trump declarer to bid
two No-trumps, but with four Aces, the value of the honors thoroughly
warrants such a declaration, unless the partner's call has evidently
been a "rescue."

The "rescue" or weakness take-out is a warning not to be disregarded.
Two Clubs or Diamonds over a No-trump is the most self-evident example,
and after such a call by the partner it takes a holding of eight sure
tricks to justify two No-trumps. Of course, with four Aces, seven
tricks would warrant the call, on the theory that at the worst the 100
for the Aces would set off the possible loss by the double, and more
than equal the loss if a double be not made.


The practice generally called "flag-flying" consists in overbidding an
adverse declaration, which will surely result in game and rubber, with
a holding which is not of sufficient strength to carry out the

While at times flag-flying is of great advantage, in inexperienced
hands it is apt to prove a dangerous expedient. The argument in its
favor is obvious. The bonus of 250 points for the rubber really makes
500 points the difference between winning and losing, and in addition
there must be computed the points and honors which would be scored by
the adversaries in the deal with which they go game, and the points and
honors which may be scored by the flag-flyers in the succeeding deal
which they hope will carry them to their goal. On this basis
flag-flyers estimate that it makes a difference of 600 points whether
their opponents go out on the current deal or the flag-flyers score
game on the next, and they claim that any loss under 600 is a gain. The
estimate is correct; the claim, ridiculous. Whenever the next deal
furnishes the player who offers the gambit sufficient strength to
capture the rubber, he gains, when his loss has been under 600, but at
best it is not more than an even chance that he will win, and when the
pendulum swings in the adverse direction, the only result of the
performance with the flag is to increase the size of the adversaries'
rubber by the amount of the sacrifice. This continued indefinitely is
bound to produce Auction bankruptcy.

The player who figures that, on the doctrine of chances, he and his
partner will hold the strong cards once in every two deals, should
remember that the fickle goddess would never have deserved nor received
her well-earned title had she been even approximately reliable.

A run of bad luck may continue for an indefinite period. It has pursued
good players not only for a day or a week, but continuously for months
and years. It does not sound warnings announcing its appearance or
disappearance. To attempt to fight it by the flag-flying process as a
rule only multiplies the loss many fold. And yet, it must not be
understood that the flag-flyer should always be shunned and condemned.
When his loss amounts to only 100 or 200, or when, not detecting his
purpose, the adversaries fail to double, and the loss is, therefore,
smaller, the odds favor his exhibition of nerve. Flag-flying, however,
is like dynamite: in the hands of a child or of one unfamiliar with its
characteristics, it is a danger, the extent of which none can foretell;
but used with skill, it becomes a tool of exceptional value.

It is only during the rubber game that even the most enthusiastic and
expert flyer of the flag should allow it to wave. With a game out, to
make the play successful Dame Fortune must bestow her favors twice in
succession. Before taking such a long chance, a player should realize
that there are future rubbers which he has an even chance of winning,
and that it is better to minimize the present loss than to allow it to
become so great that, even if good fortune follow, it will be
impossible to recoup. On the first game of the rubber, or with a game
in, and the adversaries still without a game, it is plainly too early
and the situation is not sufficiently desperate to resort to any real
flag-flying. Except when playing the rubber game, a voluntary loss of
over 100 should never be considered.



All doubles, except the double of one Spade by the Second Hand, which
is really an informatory bid,[20] are made for the purpose of increasing
the score of the doubler.

      [20] See pages 65, 66.

The old idea of informatory doubles has been abandoned. Now when a
player doubles, he does not invite a No-trump by showing one or more
tricks in the adversary's suit, but he practically says, "Partner, I am
satisfied that we can defeat this declaration, and I desire to receive
a bonus of 100 instead of 50 for each trick that our adversaries fall
short of their contract. I do not wish you to overbid, unless your hand
be of such a peculiar character that you have reason to believe the
double will not be very profitable and feel sure that we can go game
with your declaration."

Although doubles are made under widely divergent conditions, they may
be subdivided into two classes:--

1. The double of a declaration which, if successful, will result in
game, regardless of the double, such as four Hearts, with a love score.

2. The double which, if unsuccessful, puts the Declarer out, although
if undoubled, he would not secure the game by fulfilling his contract,
such as two or three Hearts, with a love score.

In the first instance, the doubler has nothing to lose except the
difference in points which the Declarer may make as a result of the
double. When, for example, a bid of four Hearts is doubled and the
Declarer fulfils his contract, the double costs exactly 82 points. If
the Declarer fall one trick short, the double gains 50 points. When,
however, there is a redouble, the loss is increased 114 points, the
gain 100 points. The doubler is, therefore, betting the Declarer 82 to
50 that he will not make his contract, and giving the Declarer the
option of increasing the bet, so that the odds become 196 to 150. It is
evident, therefore, that even when the Declarer will go out in any
event, it is not a particularly advantageous proposition for the
doubler to give odds of 8 to 5 or 20 to 15, if the chances be even.
When the declaration is Royals or No-trumps, the odds against the
double are increased. If four No-trumps be doubled, the figures are 90
to 50 with the option given to the Declarer to increase them to 220 to

The explanatory remark so often heard after an unsuccessful double, "It
could not cost anything, as they were out anyhow," is not an absolutely
accurate statement. It may be worth while to consider one ordinary
illustration of how many points may be lost by a foolish double of this
character. A bid of four Hearts is doubled and redoubled. The Declarer
takes eleven tricks, as he is able to ruff one or two high cards which
the doubler hoped would prove winners. This is an every-day case, but
the figures are rarely brought home. Without a double, the Declarer
would have scored 40 points; with the redouble, he scores 160 points
and 200 bonus, or 360, presented by an adversary, who hoped at most to
gain 50 and thought his effort "could not cost anything."

A doubtful double should not be made when the partner has another bid,
as, for example, when the adversary to the right has called four
Hearts, over three Royals declared by the partner. Under these
circumstances, the double, on the theory that the doubler expects to
secure a large bonus, may properly deter the partner from a successful
four Royals declaration. Even when the double is successful to the
extent of 100, that is not a sufficient compensation for losing the
opportunity to win the game.

The fact that a good player has declared an unusually large number of
tricks, as, for example, five Hearts, is not in itself a reason for
doubling. A player of experience, when he makes such a declaration,
fully realizes the difficulty of the undertaking. He does not take the
chance without giving it more consideration than he would a smaller
bid, and it is only fair to assume that he has a reasonable expectation
of success. Doubling, therefore, merely because the bid requires ten or
even eleven tricks, is folly, pure and simple. This comment, however,
does not apply when the bid is of the flag-flying character.[21] As to
whether or not it comes within that category the doubler will have to
determine. The Auction expert is always on the lookout for an
opportunity to gather a large bonus at the expense of a flag-flyer, and
as unduly sanguine players indulge in that practice more than others,
their declarations should be subjected to the most rigid scrutiny.

      [21] See pages 139-142 inc.

The doubtful double, which, should it prove unsuccessful, will result
in the Declarer scoring a game he would not otherwise obtain, is, as a
rule, inexcusable. By this is not meant that a bid of two or three
Hearts or Royals, or of three or four Clubs or Diamonds, should never
be doubled. That would be absurd doctrine, but such a double should
never be made with the chances even, or nearly even. An experienced
bidder will not risk presenting the adversaries with the game and a
bonus unless reasonably sure of defeating the declaration.

Another absurd notion is doubling because of the partner's general
strength. The partner has an equal opportunity to double, and is much
better posted in relation to his own cards. If the strength be his, he
should decide whether or not to take the chance. When, however, one
partner has some strength in the suit the adversaries have declared,
and the other, high side cards, the double is more apt to confuse the
Declarer if made by the player without the Trump strength.

The above refers to doubtful doubles only; when the indications are
that the Declarer can be decisively defeated, the double is most
important. It is worth 100 if the Declarer go down two; 150, if he lose
three, etc. These additional points should not be allowed to escape.

Even the most venturesome doublers realize that, except in the unusual
case, it is unwise to double a bid of one, whether it be in a suit or
No-trump. Some players hesitate about doubling a bid of two, preferring
to take the chance of forcing the bidder higher. No general rule
covering the situation can be laid down, as it depends greatly upon the
character of the doubler's hand whether the adversary is apt to advance
his bid.

A double of a No-trump is much safer than of a suit declaration. The
doubler of the No-trump knows approximately what to expect from his
long suit, what suits he has stopped, and if one be unguarded, can
estimate how many tricks it may be possible for the declarer to run.
The doubler of a suit declaration cannot figure with any such accuracy.
He rarely has more than two winning Trumps, and therefore, as a rule,
must depend upon side Aces and Kings for the balance of his tricks. It
is always possible that the Declarer or his partner may be absolutely
void of the suit or suits in which the doubler expects to win his
tricks, so that sometimes a hand with which the most conservative
player would double, goes to pieces before a cross-ruff. When one hand
is evenly divided, the chances are that the others are of the same
character, but it is not a certainty that they are. When one hand has a
very long suit, and is either blank in some other suit, or has but a
singleton of it, the other hands are apt to contain very long and very
short suits. Therefore, if the doubler be without, or have but a
singleton of, a suit, he should be more conservative, in doubling a
suit declaration upon the expectation of making high side cards, than
when he has an evenly divided hand.

Probably the most advantageous situation for a double is when the
partner has declared No-trump, and the adversary to the right, two of a
suit, of which the doubler, in addition to other strength, holds four
cards, at least two of which are sure to take tricks. This comes nearer
being an informatory double than any other in vogue in the game of
to-day. The partner, however, should not take it out unless his
No-trump consist of some such holding as a solid suit and an Ace.

A hand of this character may not prove formidable against a suit
declaration, and it justifies the original Declarer, as he knows that
the adverse suit is well stopped, in bidding two No-trumps. It is one
of the few cases where it is not advisable to allow the double of a
partner to stand.

It is generally conceded that the double, although a most powerful
factor in the game, and the element which is productive of large
rubbers, is used excessively, especially by inexperienced and rash
players. If a record could be produced of all the points won and lost
by doubling, there is little doubt that the "lost" column would lead by
a ratio of at least two to one.

The double in the hands of a discreet player of sound judgment is,
indeed, a powerful weapon greatly feared by the adversaries; when used
by the unskilled, it becomes a boomerang of the most dangerous type.

A player cannot afford to have the reputation of never doubling, as
that permits his adversaries to take undue liberties in bidding, but it
is better to be ultra-conservative than a foolish doubler who
continually presents his opponents with games of enormous proportions.
A player should not double unless able to count with reasonable
exactness in his own hand and announced by his partner a sufficient
number of tricks to defeat the Declarer. It is not the place to take a
chance or to rely upon a partner, who has not shown strength, for an
average holding. It must also be remembered as an argument against a
doubtful double that the Declarer is more apt to make his declaration
when doubled, as he is then given more or less accurate information
regarding the position of the adverse strength, and can finesse
accordingly. A double frequently costs one trick--sometimes even more.


A most interesting question arises when a player is placed in the
gratifying position of having the opportunity of electing whether to go
game or secure a bonus by doubling.

Which course he should take depends entirely upon the state of the
rubber, and the size of the bonus that the double will probably
produce. A game is always to be preferred to a double which is not apt
to net more than 100. When 200 is sure and a greater bonus probable,
the double should be made during either the first or second game of the
rubber. During the rubber game, however, the doubler should be more
conservative, and should "take in" his rubber unless satisfied that the
double will produce 300, with a potential possibility of more.

The reason, which may not at first be apparent, for this difference in
the situation, may be briefly explained as follows: Before a game has
been won, the securing of a large bonus in the honor column places the
fortunate doubler in a most advantageous position, as he starts the
rubber insured against loss unless he suffer a similar penalty.

When the only game finished has been won by the adversaries, a large
bonus should be preferred to game. As the adversaries already have a
game, the next hand may give them the rubber, and should it do so, its
amount will be most materially affected by the action of the player who
has the chance either to score a bonus or win a game. If the first game
be of normal size, a large bonus will nullify the result of the rubber,
but if instead a game be taken in the adversaries will score an average

When the player considering a double has a game and the adversaries
have not, he is in a most excellent position to double with the hope of
a big winning. To secure the enlarged rubber, it is only necessary for
him to obtain one game before the adversaries get two, and as the odds
are greatly in his favor it is a chance worth taking.

When, however, each side has a game and the question is whether to
obtain a bonus or score rubber, the bonus must be large and sure to
justify giving up a rubber practically won for merely an equal chance
of capturing a larger one. It has been elsewhere stated that when a
player who has an opportunity to win a rubber fails to avail himself of
it, and on the next hand the adversaries reach the goal, the loss may
be roughly estimated at 600 points. The player who doubles during the
third game knows that the next hand may see the adversaries score the
rubber. Even if he obtain 400 points by doubling, and this happens, the
adversaries gain to the extent of approximately 200 points by his
action. On the other hand, he has an equal chance for the game, and if
he win it, he will be the gainer by the amount secured by the double.
When he has a sure 400 in sight, or even a sure 300, with a reasonable
chance of more, the odds favor the double, but it is the height of
folly to take an even chance of losing 600 unless 300 be the minimum

Advice as to whether to double or go game is useful only for players
who can with accuracy estimate the trick-taking value of their hands.
To refuse a double which would net several hundred for the sake of
going game and then fall a trick short of both the game and the
declaration is most exasperating, while on the other hand to double for
a big score, instead of taking in a sure game, only to have the double
fail, is equally heart-breaking.

The player who takes either horn of this dilemma must be sure of his
ground and must figure the chances with the greatest care.


The question of when to redouble is so intricate that it is hard to
consider, except when the specific case arises. Some players frequently
redouble, as a kind of bluff, when convinced their declaration will
fail, the intent being to frighten either the doubler or his partner
into another declaration. Against a very timid player, this is
sometimes successful, but unless it catch its victim, it is expensive

Nine out of ten redoubles, however, are _bona fide_, and made because
the fulfilment of the contract seems assured. Even then, however, a
player should not redouble unless practically positive that neither of
his adversaries can get out of the redouble by making a higher bid.

The player who has been doubled and is sure of his contract is in a
most enviable position; game and a handsome bonus both are his, and it
would be most foolish for him to risk so much merely for the chance of
the extra score. If, however, there be no escape for the doubler, the
redouble is most valuable, and a real opportunity for it should never
be overlooked.


The player who, whenever his partner's declaration is doubled, becomes
frightened, concludes that the worst is sure to happen, and that it is
his duty to come to the rescue by jumping headlong into some other
declaration, even if it require an increased number of tricks, is a
most dangerous _vis-à-vis_. A double does not justify the assumption
that the Declarer is beaten, especially when the partner has any
unannounced help. If the partner be weak, it is folly for him to go
from bad to worse; if strong, he may enable the Declarer to make a
large score. In any event, in nine cases out of ten, "standing pat" is
his best policy.



The selection of the correct lead in Auction is not attended with so
many difficulties as in Whist, or even in Bridge. In Whist, the
original leader is obliged to begin the play in the dark, the turn-up
constituting his entire knowledge of the strength or weakness of the
other players. In Bridge, the extent of his information is limited to
the inferences that can be drawn from the declaration and the double,
but in Auction every player has made at least one announcement which is
more or less instructive.

When there has been considerable bidding it is frequently possible to
accurately estimate the length and strength of the suit of each player
and the trick-taking value of the balance of his hand. When only one or
two declarations have been made, so much information may not be
obtainable, but even then the leader, from the failure of certain
players to bid, may be able to make deductions of considerable value.

The Auction leader, therefore, must remember the various declarations,
draw both positive and negative inferences therefrom, and whenever it
is not advisable to open his partner's suit or his own, should follow
the old principle which, since the days of Pole, has been applicable to
all games of the Whist family, and realize "'Tis seldom wrong to lead
up to the weak and through the strong."

The original opening is materially varied by the character of the final
declaration, the system of leading against a No-trump being quite
different from that employed when a suit is Trump.


When the partner has not shown strength, the leader, against a
No-trump, should open his own long suit. If he have two long suits, he
should pick the stronger except when he has declared it, and has not
received support from his partner, in which case it is generally wise
to try the other. The possible exception to the lead of a long suit
against a No-trump is when that suit has been declared, has not been
helped by the partner, and the No-trump has been subsequently bid to
the right. In this situation, with a tenace in the long suit, it is
sometimes advisable to try, by leading another suit, to get the partner
in, so that he may lead through the Declarer's strength in the suit
called by the leader. This, however, is a dangerous expedient when the
partner has not declared. Should a suit be guessed which the partner
cannot win, one of his high cards is apt to be sacrificed, and not only
nothing gained, but the advantage of the lead transferred to the
adversary. If two high cards be missing from the tenace suit, as in the
case when it is headed by Ace, Queen, Ten, or King, Knave, Ten, and the
Declarer hold the missing honors and one small card, it will take two
leads to establish the suit. It is not likely that a partner without
sufficient strength to declare will be able to get in twice, and trying
to put him in once is most apt to establish a suit for the Declarer.
Therefore, as a general proposition, unless the partner have declared,
the tenace suit should be led. When, however, the partner has shown a
suit, opening it, in preference to a tenace, is elementary and

When the partner has declared, the leader should open the suit named
unless satisfied that his own affords a more potent weapon for the

There are only three conditions which justify the leader in assuming
this, viz.:--

    (_a_) When the leader has called his suit and his partner has
    advanced the declaration.

    (_b_) When the leader's suit is headed by Ace, King, Queen, or
    King, Queen, Knave.

    (_c_) When the leader has only a singleton of his partner's
    suit and has several reëntries.

Innumerable tricks, games, and rubbers have been thrown away by a
leader who, considering solely his own hand, has started with his suit
in preference to that of his partner. There is some peculiar
characteristic in the composition of many players which magnifies the
value of their own cards, so that they seem of greater importance and
more desirable to establish than their partners'. Even experienced
players have been known to commit such an Auction absurdity as opening
a suit headed by a Knave, in preference to the suit named by the
partner, which, of necessity, contains the strength requisite for a
Trump declaration.

It is fair to estimate that ten tricks are lost by denying the
partner's declaration to one that escapes the player who leads his
partner's suit in preference to his own.

When the partner has declared, his suit can be counted upon for both
length and strength, and unless it be practically solid, his hand
contains at least one reëntry. The leader by his opening can attack
only one-quarter of the No-trump fortification, and it is his duty to
pick out the spot which promises to be most vulnerable. A No-trump call
is very likely to spell game unless a suit can be established against
it. In order to accomplish this it is generally necessary to start with
the first card led. Therefore, making the right original opening is
probably the only opportunity to save the game. When the leader selects
his own suit in preference to his partner's, he should be able to say,
"In spite of the strength you have declared, I am reasonably sure that
we have a better chance to establish this suit than yours."

As a rule, however, the leader does not have sufficient strength to
support such a statement, and, therefore, his lead generally says,
"Partner, I know you have considerable strength, you may have declared
expressly for the purpose of asking me to lead your suit, but I
selfishly prefer to play my own hand rather than act for the benefit of
the partnership."

It is but a puerile excuse for a leader who does not open his partner's
suit to explain that the No-trump was called by the right-hand
adversary after the partner's declaration, and that the bid, having
been made with the anticipation that the suit named would be led, he
should surprise the Declarer. It is true that the Declarer expects that
suit, but it may be the only opening he fears. It is more than possible
that the suit is stopped but once, and that leading it will save the
game, even if it do not defeat the declaration. It is certainly a very
short-sighted or unduly sanguine player who selects a suit of his own,
which has not nearly the strength of his partner's, merely on the wild
chance that his partner, rather than the No-trump bidder, has the
missing high cards.

When the partner has declared two suits and the leader has length or
strength in one of them, he should open it, but when he cannot assist
either, he should open the suit named first, as it is probably the

As will be seen from the tables of leads against a No-trump
declaration, in some cases whether the leader has a reëntry materially
affects the manner in which he should open his long suit. By a reëntry
in this connection is meant either an Ace or King, unless the suit
containing the King have been bid by the adversary to the left of the
leader. In that case the King cannot be expected to win unless
accompanied by the Queen. A Queen, or even Queen, Knave, cannot be
considered a reëntry, as the suit may not be led three times.

The reason for varying the lead, depending upon the presence of a
reëntry, is that the sole thought of the leader against a No-trump is
to establish the suit led, and to insure so doing he opens his suit
exclusively with that end in view, regardless of whether it would
otherwise be the opening most apt to prove trick-winning. He knows that
the Declarer will, if possible, hold up a winning card until the Third
Hand is unable to return the suit. Therefore, if he be without a
reëntry, he must do all in his power to force the winning card from the
adversary's hand as early in the play as possible. If he have a
reëntry, he may play much more fearlessly. An example of this is a long
suit, headed by Ace, Queen, Knave. The most advantageous lead from this
combination is the Ace (as an adversary may hold an unguarded King),
and that would be the lead with a reëntry; but the chances are that the
partner does not hold more than three cards of the suit, and, if it be
opened in the usual way, the King will be held up until the third
round. The leader without a reëntry, therefore, is compelled to open
with the Queen, so as to establish the suit, while the partner, who
probably has a reëntry, still retains a card of it.

Another important convention which applies to the opening of the
leader's suit against a No-trump declaration (but, of course, against a
No-trump declaration only) is that the original lead of an Ace calls
for the partner's highest card. An Ace, therefore, should be led from
such a combination as a suit headed by Ace, King, Knave, Ten, since the
drop of the Queen will permit the suit to be run without hesitation,
and the failure of the partner to play the Queen will permit the leader
to place its position positively, and to continue the suit or not, as
his judgment and the balance of his hand dictate. This doctrine is
extended to all cases of the original lead of an Ace against a No-trump

The Ace should not be led unless the partner's best card, regardless of
its size, be desired, and the partner should play it unhesitatingly, be
it King, Queen, or Knave, unless the Dummy convince him that meeting
the demand of the lead will be trick-sacrificing, in which case the
leader's command should be ignored.

In leading a partner's suit, the general rule of selecting the fourth
best, when opening with a small card, is not followed. The object in
leading that suit is to strengthen the partner, and it is more
important to do that and also to tell him what is the leader's highest
card than to post him regarding exact length. Holding either two,
three, or four of a partner's suit, the top, therefore, should be led,
followed on each succeeding trick by the next in order, the lowest
being retained until the last. This is sometimes called the "down and
out." The one exception to the lead of the top of the partner's suit is
when it consists of three or more headed by Ace or King, and the
right-hand adversary has called No-trump after the suit has been
declared. In that case, it may be that the stopper which the Declarer
thinks he has in the suit can be captured, and the lead, therefore,
should be a low card.


The lead in Auction is materially simplified by the fact that
number-showing is not nearly so important as in Whist, and really only
becomes of value when opening a small card against a No-trump
declaration. In that case the lowest should always be led with four in
the suit, because the partner, having the Dummy spread before him,
being able to count his own hand, and being informed by the lead
regarding the leader's length in the suit, can generally tell the exact
number held by the Declarer, and can, therefore, accurately determine
whether it is better to continue that suit or try some other. It
happens more frequently than would be supposed that when a four-card
suit is opened with a small card, the Dummy and Third Hand have only
four cards of it between them. The Third Hand can then, if the leader
have shown exactly four, mark it as the long suit of the Declarer, and
make an advantageous shift. This is the only method of giving this
warning. If the fourth-best lead be not adopted, the suit must, in most
cases, necessarily be continued to the great benefit of the Declarer.

Number-showing by the lead of a small card (one of the rudiments of
Whist) is doubtless thoroughly understood by most Auction players; it
consists in leading the fourth best, when the suit is not of such a
character as to demand a high card or intermediate sequence opening.
This informs the partner that the leader has exactly three cards in
that suit higher than the card led, and that he may or may not have any
smaller card.

For example: the leader has Queen, 7, 6, and 4; the Dummy, a singleton
(the 3); and the Third Hand, who wins the trick with the Ace, only two
others (the 8 and 2). The Third Hand can place the Declarer with five,
as the leader, having opened his lowest, can have had only four

Number-showing leads in high cards, so advantageous in Whist, are
absolutely unimportant in Auction, and only complicate the situation.
They are not given in the table of leads appended at the end of this
chapter, nor is their use permissible, even by the Whist-player of the
old school who is thoroughly familiar with their meaning. He must
realize that Auction is not a number-showing game, and must be content
to limit his skill in that respect to the fourth best, which is
advisable when it is not higher than the 7. The limitation of the
fourth-best lead to a 7 or lower card is a useful modern innovation.
When the 8 or a higher fourth best is led against a No-trump, the
Declarer, with his twenty-six cards at his command, and with great
strength in his own hand, is apt to receive information as to the exact
high cards held by the leader which will prove of greater value to him
than to the partner. Furthermore, the lead of an 8 or 9 as a fourth
best is bound at times to conflict with the valuable lead known as the
"top of an intermediate sequence."

The holdings from which the top of an intermediate sequence should be
led are shown in the tables, and while some of the leads in such cases,
which are absolutely conventional in Auction, may shock the
Whist-player, they have, nevertheless, been found to be advisable in
the present game. Trick-winning is far more important than giving
numerical information, and the top of an intermediate sequence often
succeeds in capturing a valuable card in the Dummy, does not give too
much information to the Declarer, helps to establish the suit, and
seldom interferes with the play of the partner.

Much has been written by those who contend that the fourth-best lead
against a No-trump gives the Declarer too much information, and,
therefore, should never be employed. The writers, however, do not
consider that practically the only cases in which the lead is
objectionable for the reason cited is when it is an 8 or higher card,
while the great advantage of the lead is the warning above mentioned.

There are also instances in which the Third Hand is at some time in the
play in doubt whether to return the original lead or try his own suit.
The knowledge of whether his partner holds three or more of the suit
first led may in such case be of the greatest value.

The idea of leading the fourth best only when it is a 7 or smaller card
eliminates the objection, yet in practically every case affords the

A player who adopts this system may at times, as, for example, with
such a holding as Ace, Queen, 10, 8, 2, be obliged to open the 8, but
inasmuch as he would lead the same card from Ace, Queen, 8, 7, 2, the
Declarer cannot bank upon the 8 of such a leader showing three higher
cards of the suit in his hand, and, therefore, no harm is done.

If the leader have any such four-card combination as Ace, or any one
face card, accompanied by 9, 8, 2, or 8, 7, 2, showing that the lead is
from four only is more important than opening the top of a two-card
intermediate sequence. When, however, the intermediate is headed by a
Knave or 10, the opening of the top of it becomes advisable regardless
of the length of the suit. Of course, the 2, in the examples just
given, is used to represent any small card, and the fourth best should
be led if it be a 3, 4, or 5.


Against a suit declaration, the original lead of the longest suit is
not in the least imperative. Strength is far more important than
length. As the tables show, many high-card combinations are opened very
differently, the theory being to win with honors, not to establish
small cards. If the leader be a Whist-player, he must remember that
Auction is a very different game. The Trump has not been selected by
chance, but has been named because of his adversaries' great length and
strength. The establishment of an adverse suit against a Trump
declaration is, therefore, an almost unknown proceeding.

The object of the leader against a suit declaration is to get as many
tricks as possible, and he should utilize the two best methods for so
doing: namely, winning with his own and his partner's high cards, and
ruffing with weak Trumps.

He should avoid opening a tenace suit, regardless of its length. A
singleton, if he be short in Trumps, is probably his best lead; his
second choice should be high cards in sequence. When his hand does not
contain either of these advantageous openings, he should try his
partner's suit.

It goes without saying that if the leader have both the Ace and King of
a suit, it is always well to lead the King, not only for the purpose of
giving information and taking a practically assured trick, but also in
order to obtain a look at the Dummy, which will enable him to more
advantageously size up the entire situation.

When his partner has not shown strength, the leader need never hesitate
about starting with a strengthening card of a short suit which has not
been declared. He is also thoroughly justified, if weak in Trumps, in
asking for a force by leading the top of a two-card suit. This, while
not nearly so desirable an opening as a singleton, is better than
leading from a tenace. When the leader is long in Trumps, he should
open his own or his partner's strength.

The leader should bear in mind as a vital principal that, against a
suit declaration, a suit containing an Ace should never be opened
originally, unless the Ace (or King, if that card be also held) be led.
The leader should observe this convention, regardless of the length of
the suit. The knowledge that a leader can be relied upon not to have
the Ace unless he lead it will be of material assistance to his partner
in the play. It is sometimes very tempting to lead low with an Ace,
hoping that a King may be found in the Second Hand, and that the
partner's Queen may capture the first trick. This play will
occasionally prove successful, but in the long run, it is a
trick-loser, there being so many instances of singletons, even of
single Kings, and also of two-card suits, where, unless the Ace be led,
the Declarer will win the first trick and discard the other card.

The leader must observe the distinction between opening a long and a
short suit which has always been in force in Whist, Bridge, and
Auction--that is, when leading a suit headed by a Knave or smaller
card, if long, open from the bottom; if short, from the top. For
example, holding Knave, 9, 7, 2, the 2 should be led, but holding
Knave, 7, 2, the Knave is the card to open.

One other conventional lead should be mentioned, which, as an original
opening, is advisable against a Trump declaration only. It is the lead
of a two-card suit consisting of Ace, King. The Ace first, and then
King, signifies no more of the suit, and a desire to ruff. Of course,
by analogy, the lead of the King before the Ace shows more of the suit.


The question of what lead should be made when the partner has doubled
is comparatively simple, although the answer depends materially upon
whether the double has been of a No-trump or a suit declaration. When a
No-trump has been doubled, the original lead should invariably be the
suit the doubler has declared. When the doubler has not made any
declaration, the suit the leader has called should be opened. When
neither the doubler nor the leader has declared, a case that rarely
occurs, the lead should be either the best Club or the highest card of
the leader's shortest suit, depending upon which of these two
conventions the doubler approves.

The theory of the advocates of the Club convention is that it is
important for the doubler of a No-trump to know exactly what suit will
be led, and that he is more apt to desire Clubs than any other, as the
other suits, being of greater value, are more likely to be bid. The
argument of the advocates of the high card of the short suit convention
is that it enables a double to be made with any long suit.

The Club convention is much safer, and is used by most conservative

In the event of there being any doubt what the lead should be, if the
leader be fortunate enough to hold an Ace, it is good policy for him to
lead it for the purpose of taking a look. The contents of the Dummy
will probably furnish the desired information.

When a suit declaration has been doubled, a singleton is always an
advantageous opening. The lead of a high card is also advisable for the
purpose of taking a look. If the leader be without either a singleton
or high-card lead, his partner's suit is unquestionably his wisest


The tables which appear at the end of this chapter should be carefully
examined by all who are not absolutely letter perfect in the
conventional leads. The present tendency of players taking up Auction
is to regard the leads as unimportant, and this often results
disastrously. The quondam Whist-player realizes the necessity of having
every lead at his fingers' ends, but for the benefit of those who have
never participated in the older game, it may be said that the
conventional leads have been determined upon only after years of
experimentation; as a consequence of which it is known just which card,
in the long run, will win the most tricks.

A leader who, on the spur of the moment, during the play, tries
something else, is taking a course sure to deceive an intelligent
partner, and one which will probably reduce the number of his tricks.

The one combination that seems to tempt some players to disregard the
conventional, is the King, Queen, Ten, against a No-trump. With this
holding the King is manifestly most advantageous, as if the Declarer
hold Ace, Knave, it will either force the Ace and hold the tenace over
the Knave or win the trick. Without the Ten, a small card should be
led, but many players fail to recognize the important distinction.

Every one attempting to play the game should learn the conventional
leads, and having once mastered this comparatively easy lesson, should
never allow a childish impulse, such as "having a hunch," to induce an
experiment with a lead not recognized as sound.

The various tables follow.


                                                  With a    Without a
                    Holding                       Reëntry    Reëntry

    Ace, King, Queen, Knave, with or without others  Ace       Ace
    Ace, King, Queen, Ten, with one or more others   Ace       Ace
    Ace, King, Queen, Ten                            King      King
    Ace, King, Queen, with three or more others      Ace       Ace
    Ace, King, Queen, with one or two others         King      King
    Ace, King, Knave, Ten, with two or more others   Ace       Ace
    Ace, King, Knave, Ten, with one other            Ace       Knave
    Ace, King, Knave, Ten                            King      Knave
    Ace, King, Knave, with three or more others      Ace       Ace
    Ace, King, Knave, with two others                Ace       4th best
    Ace, King, Knave, with one other                 King      King
    Ace, King, and five others                       Ace       Ace
    Ace, King, and four others                       King      4th best
    Ace, King, and two or three others               4th best  4th best
    Ace, Queen, Knave, Ten, with or without others   Ace       Queen
    Ace, Queen, Knave, with one or more others       Ace       Queen
    Ace, Queen, Ten, Nine, and three others          Ace       Ten
    Ace, Queen, Ten, Nine, with less than seven      Ten       Ten
    Ace, Queen, and five others                      Ace       4th best
    Ace, Queen, and two, three, or four others       4th best  4th best
    Ace, Knave, Ten, with one or more others         Knave     Knave
    Ace, Knave, with two or more others              4th best  4th best
    Ace, Ten, Nine, with one or more others          Ten       Ten
    Ace, Ten, Eight, with one or more others         4th best  4th best

    King, Queen, Knave, Ten, with or without others  King      King
    King, Queen, Knave, with one or more others      King      King
    King, Queen, Ten, with one or more others        King      King
    King, Queen, with five or more others            King      King
    King, Queen, with four or more others            King      4th best
    King, Queen, with two or three others            4th best  4th best
    King, Knave, Ten, with one or more others        Knave     Knave
    King, Knave, with two or more others             4th best  4th best
    King, Ten, Nine, with one or more others         Ten       Ten
    King, Ten, with two or more others               4th best  4th best

    Queen, Knave, Ten, with one or more others       Queen     Queen
    Queen, Knave, Nine, with one or more others      Queen     Queen
    Queen, Knave, with two or more others            4th best  4th best
    Queen, Ten, Nine, with one or more others        Ten       Ten

    Knave, Ten, Nine, with one or more others        Knave     Knave
    Knave, Ten, Eight, with one or more others       Knave     Knave
    Knave, Ten, with two or more others              4th best  4th best

    Ten, Nine, Eight, with one or more others        Ten       Ten
    Ten, Nine, Seven, with one or more others        Ten       Ten

In all the above cases in which the fourth best is given as the lead,
should the hand contain an intermediate sequence, headed by an 8, or
higher card, the top of such sequence should be led instead of the
fourth best. For example, King, Knave, 9, 8, 2, lead the 9; King,
Knave, 9, 7, 2, lead the 7.

In any case not mentioned, in which there is not an intermediate
sequence, headed by an 8 or higher card, the fourth best should be

The lead of the fourth best, when it is an 8 or higher card, should be
avoided whenever possible. For example, Ace, Queen, 10, 8, 6, 2, lead
the 6; but never lead the lowest when holding more than four, so from
Ace, Queen, 10, 8, 2, lead the 8.

In all the Ace-King combinations in the above table, in which the Ace
is the conventional lead, it is selected in preference to the King,
because the highest card of the partner is desired; when the King is
the lead, the suit is not of sufficient strength to make that play


                    Holding                          Lead

    Ace, King, Queen, Knave                      King, then Knave
    Ace, King, Queen                             King, then Queen
    Ace, King, Knave                             King
    Ace, King, and one or more others            King
    Ace, King, without any others                Ace, then King
    Ace, Queen, Knave[22]                        Ace, then Queen
    Ace, Queen, and one or more others[22]       Ace, then lowest
    Ace, Knave, Ten[22]                          Ace
    Ace, and one or more small                   Ace

    King, Queen, Knave, with or without others   King
    King, Queen, Ten, with or without others     King
    King, Queen, with or without others          King
    King, Knave, Ten, with or without others[22] Knave
    King, Knave, and one or more others[22]      Lowest or 4th best
    King, Ten, Nine, and one or more others[22]  Ten
    King, and two or more others[22]             Lowest or 4th best

    Queen, Knave, Ten, with or without others    Queen
    Queen, Knave, Nine, with or without others   Queen
    Queen, Knave, and two or more others         4th best[23]
    Queen, Knave, and one or no others           Queen
    Queen, Ten, Nine, with or without others     Ten

    Knave, Ten, with or without others           Knave

    Ten, Nine, with or without others            Ten

      [22] These suits unless declared by partner should not be
      opened, as they are disadvantageous leads against a Trump

      [23] This is the conventional lead from this combination, but
      many good players prefer the Queen, especially when the
      indications are that the hand is not evenly divided. When long
      suits have been announced, the chances are that the suit led will
      be ruffed on the third round, if not earlier. If the King be in
      the Second Hand and the Ace in the Third, a trick can be gained
      by leading the Queen whenever the suit does not last for three
      rounds. Therefore, unless the hand indicate that the suits are
      evenly divided, the Queen seems to be the better lead.



It has been stated elsewhere that it is easier to advise an Auction
player how to declare than how to play. This is unquestionably true,
and as a rule instruction in print relating to intricate situations in
the play is of little benefit to the reader.

End situations, and even those which arise earlier in the hand,
seldom exactly repeat themselves. Pages may be filled with the
description of brilliant plays by the Declarer and his opponents.
The reader may study such examples until he becomes thoroughly
familiar with every detail, and yet, so great and infinite is the
variety of Auction hands, may play for years without ever having one
of them arise. Mathematicians state that the 52 cards may be
distributed in 53,644,737,765,839,237,440,000 different ways, and
that a player may receive 635,013,559,600 different hands. There is
no reason to question the accuracy of these figures, but even if
they be grossly excessive, it is still self-evident that each deal
is apt to produce some totally new situation.

All that will be attempted, therefore, in considering the play, is to
offer a few general suggestions that it is believed will be found
applicable to a considerable percentage of hands, and that it is hoped
will prove useful.


There is little difference between the play in Auction and Bridge,
although in Auction, due to the bidding, all the players have much
greater information regarding the strength and weakness of the various

There is one point of variance, however, worthy of consideration:--

In Bridge, the player of the open hand is generally striving for the
game as his only object. In Auction, the Declarer has two purposes in
view; first, to fulfil his declaration; and second, when the making of
the declaration does not in itself secure game, to obtain that also.

Naturally, the opponents of the Declarer play with exactly the opposite
idea, their first object being to prevent him from going game, and
their second, to keep him from fulfilling his contract.


The Declarer should never take a finesse or make any other play which,
if it succeed, gains one or more tricks, but which, if it fail, risks
the fulfilment of an otherwise assured contract. Having once made sure
of his bid, he should apply a similar rule to the winning of the game.
An extra trick counts comparatively little, but the failure to carry
out a contract or to capture a game may alter the result of the rubber.

The game is, of course, far more important than the contract, and the
Declarer, when he has a reasonable chance of obtaining it, should, if
necessary, risk his declaration. On the other hand, his opponents
should save the game beyond peradventure, even if by so doing they lose
an opportunity to defeat the Declarer.

A couple of examples will show this more clearly than pages of

Suppose, the score being love, the Declarer, who has bid three Royals,
has about exhausted the possibilities of his cards. He has won eight
tricks and has the lead in his own hand, with an Ace and Queen of the
same suit in the Dummy. One more trick will fulfil his contract, two
will give him game. The development of the play has shown that the
adversaries will make the rest of the tricks whenever they obtain the
lead, and consequently, if he finesse and lose, the eight tricks
already taken will be all he will secure, his Ace will "die," and he
will be "one down."

He is without information as to the location of the King; neither
adversary has declared, and neither has by discard or otherwise in the
play given a reliable hint as to the absence or presence of the
all-important card.

His duty is plain. By finessing he may lose 27 points and a penalty of
50, 77 in all, but the finesse gives him an even chance to win the
game; and whether it be the rubber, with its premium of 250, or merely
the first game, but still a most important advance toward the goal, he
should take his chance, realizing that the value of the object for
which he is striving is far greater than the 77 he may lose.

Under similar conditions, however, if the Trump be Diamonds, the
finesse should be refused. It would then take three more tricks to make
game, and but two are possible. One completes the contract, and winning
the finesse adds only 7 points, less than one-tenth of the 71 placed in

The 21 points in the trick column assured by refusing the finesse are,
viewed from a practical standpoint, just as near a game as 28 would be,
but 21 makes the bidding for game on the next deal much easier than if
the effort to win the extra 7 had resulted in the score remaining at
love. In this case, therefore, not only when the chances are equal, but
even when unmistakable inferences of declaration and play indicate that
the success of the finesse is almost assured, the opportunity should be

"Penny-wise and pound-foolish" aptly characterizes a player who would
risk advantage of position and 71 points for the chance of gaining a
paltry 7.


The Declarer, in the absence of any positive indication to the
contrary, should base his play upon the probability of an even division
of the cards. That is, with seven of a suit in his own hand and Dummy,
he should play for each of the adversaries to have three; with nine, he
should play on the basis that the four missing cards are equally
divided. In the long run, playing for the even break will net many
tricks, but in a small percentage of instances it will result
unfortunately. The case in which the question most frequently arises is
when either in Trumps or in the Declarer's strong suit in a No-trump,
the two hands hold nine cards headed by Ace, King, Knave. The division
between the two hands may be

    Ace, King, Knave, X, X     and     X, X, X, X

    Ace, King, X, X, X         and     Knave, Ten, X, X

    Ace, Knave, X, X, X        and     King, X, X, X

    King, Knave, X, X, X       and     Ace, X, X, X

or any other.

In all these cases the Knave finesse is tempting, but it should be
refused, and the Ace and King played with the expectation of an even
break which will drop the Queen on the second round. The exceptions to
this general rule occur when

    (_a_) The presence of the Queen in either adverse hand has
    been indicated by some declaration or double.

    (_b_) When one adversary has shown unusual length in some
    other suit.

In the latter case, it is sometimes wise to play on the assumption that
the adversary, very long in another suit, has but one of the suit in
question, and consequently to finesse the _second round_ on that


The Declarer, as soon as the Dummy's cards are spread, should size up
the situation, see how many tricks are in sight, what suit or suits it
is necessary for him to establish, and what, if any, finesse or
finesses he will have to make in order to secure his declaration and
his game.

In determining which way to finesse, he should be materially assisted
by the bids of his adversaries, and during the play, as situations
develop either in his favor or against him, he should be continually
figuring on the best method to make his declaration. He should remember
that failure to fulfil his contract will not only result in a material
loss on the score, but, in the end, may cost the rubber. When the
scheme of play he has planned at the start shows signs of becoming
unsuccessful, he should, if possible, change it for one more promising.

The Declarer, especially if brought up in the Whist school, should bear
in mind that he now has no partner anxiously seeking information
regarding the contents of his hand, but that he has two adversaries
from whom he should withhold, as long as possible, knowledge of his
strength, weakness, aims, and schemes. When any method of play suggests
itself which seems more deceptive than another, and yet produces the
same result, it should be adopted. False cards should be used whenever
possible, as they are less informatory than the conventional lowest of
a sequence. The Declarer should worry his opponents in this way
whenever the opportunity offers. In playing small cards, the higher
should frequently precede the lower, and every means should be used to
make it as difficult as possible for the adversaries to place the


The Declarer will find that he is obliged to use different tactics when
playing a No-trump from those he employs when a Trump has been named.
In the former case, his main object should be to establish his long
suit or suits, and to shut out those of the adversary. When he has the
Ace (without any other stopper) of an adverse suit, unless there be
some other he fears more, he should refrain from playing the Ace until
the third round, or until sure that the partner of the long hand has
exhausted his holding of that suit. The reason for this is obvious. If
the holder of the long suit can be kept from the lead, the suit will
not be made. He may be without a reëntry, so it is important that his
partner be unable to put him in by leading that suit. In this case, the
Declarer should take any doubtful finesse, which he has the opportunity
of taking either way, so that, if it lose, the holder of the long suit
will not be in the lead.

The Declarer should postpone as long as possible leading a suit of four
cards in one hand and three in the other, headed by Ace, King, and
Queen, but not the Knave, unless he be afraid of a long, adverse run
which will force him to awkward discards. The reason is that, should
either of the adversaries be long in that suit, three rounds will
establish for him one or more cards which otherwise would not be made
good. Leading even two rounds will be a warning not to discard from
that suit. It should, therefore, be avoided, except for the purpose of
placing a lead, until the other strength of the Declarer is exhausted,
or until it becomes evident that, when next he loses the lead, the
adversaries will control the situation. Then, and not until then,
should he lead such a suit with the realization that, having postponed
its establishment as long as possible, he has adopted the most probable
method not only of shutting out adverse long cards, but also of making
an extra trick for himself.

While the probability of establishing an adverse trick is not nearly so
great when the Declarer has four cards of such a suit in each hand, it
is still possible, and the method of handling it above advised, when
the total holding is seven, should be followed even with eight. A
thoughtless Declarer who has nothing to fear from an adverse run will
often as soon as he gets in (and before he establishes some suit that
demands attention) start with a suit of this character. Such tactics
sometimes cost a declaration--sometimes a game; yet the thoughtless one
rarely appreciates his folly.

An example may make this more evident:--

                 DUMMY                DECLARER

    Spades       X, X                 Ace, Queen, X

    Hearts       Ace, X, X, X         King, Queen, X

    Diamonds     X, X                 Ace, Queen, X

    Clubs        Knave, 9, X, X, X    Queen, 10, X, X

The 2 of Spades is opened, and the Declarer wins the first trick with
the Queen. He now has assured two Spade, three Heart, and one Diamond
tricks, with a chance of one more in both Hearts and Diamonds; six sure
and eight possible, without the Clubs. If he establish his Clubs, he
can make 3 tricks in that suit, which will insure game.

If he open his Hearts, he may establish one or more for the adversaries
and thus give up all chance of the game, as he is at best practically
sure to lose two Spades and two Clubs.

It is impossible to gain any advantage by running the four Hearts
before the Clubs, even if they all be good; in other words, it is a
play which may cost the game and cannot by any possibility gain
anything whatever.

When the Declarer holds a suit long in both hands, headed by the three
top honors, two in one hand and one in the other, it is wise to win the
first trick with one of the honors of the hand which holds two; this is
apt to be beneficial in the event of an adversary refusing or having a

The Declarer, even when he has bid a light No-trump and received little
assistance, should play with confidence. His adversaries do not know
the flimsy character of his declaration, and will credit him with more
powerful cards than he really holds. Even experienced players seem to
feel that a No-trump declaration is entitled to greater respect than it
deserves when made with the minimum strength which conventionally
authorizes it. A clever player will frequently capture the odd with
such a declaration, merely because the adversaries do not realize his


The Declarer generally has a greater opportunity to display skill in
the play of a suit declaration than of a No-trumper. With a suit
declared, as soon as the Dummy is placed before him, he must determine
which of two plans of campaign it is advisable for him to adopt: that
is, he must either lead Trumps until the adversaries have no more, or
he must play the ruffing game and make his Trumps separately. The
latter is especially advantageous if, with his weaker Trump hand, he
can take a trick or tricks that would, of necessity, be lost if he
immediately exhausted all the Trumps.

The Declarer, therefore, should first look for a chance to ruff losing
cards with his weak hand; when he does not find that opportunity, he
should realize that the adversaries will attempt to do some ruffing
themselves, and in nine cases out of ten, should exhaust the Trumps.

When the Declarer has a holding which makes him anxious that the Trump
lead should come from the other side, and the Dummy contains short
Trumps and a short suit (which short suit the Declarer cannot arrange
for the Dummy to ruff, either because he has the same number as the
Dummy, or because he has winning cards), he can sometimes induce an
adverse Trump lead by opening the short suit, thus conveying to his
adversaries the impression that he desires to ruff with the short

If the Declarer have sufficient Trump length in his weak Trump hand to
exhaust the adverse Trump holding, and still remain with sufficient
Trumps for all possible ruffs, he should lead Trumps before taking the
ruff, so as to avoid any chance of an over-ruff. An obvious case will
exemplify this principle:--

The Declarer holds Ace, King, Queen, and one small Trump; the Dummy,
four small; the Declarer, King, Queen, and two small Clubs, in which
suit the Dummy has Ace and one small. Part of the Declarer's original
scheme of play is to have the Dummy ruff his losing Club, yet to lead
that suit before three rounds of Trumps would be the height of folly,
as a winning card might be ruffed by an adversary or the Dummy

Managing the Dummy so as to utilize all his small Trumps to the
greatest advantage is one of the tests of the skill of the player of
the combined hands. A simple example follows: With Hearts Trump, the
Dummy puts down one small Club, and three worthless Trumps. The
Declarer wins the first trick, has Ace at the head of his long Trumps;
also, Ace, King, and two losing Clubs. His play is plain. He should
lead his Ace and then a small Club; ruff the latter, lead a Trump from
Dummy, and then the remaining losing Club, for Dummy to ruff with his
last Trump.


The adversaries of the Declarer must realize that they are at some
disadvantage in the play. The Declarer knows every card in the Dummy,
but each of his opponents can at best only guess the holding of his
partner. They should, therefore, strive by every means in their power
to give each other all possible information.

They should always play the lowest, and (except with Ace, King, and one
or more others) lead the highest of a sequence. The only case in which
they should withhold information or play a false card is when such
action may upset the calculations of the Declarer, and either cannot
mislead the partner, or, if it do, will not affect his play. For
example, with King, Queen, over an adverse Ace, Knave, 10, a false card
is more than justified, as it tempts the Declarer to mould his play for
another finesse; so also, in other cases in which the partner is
without strength in the suit and his play is, therefore, unimportant,
he may be treated as if he were a Dummy.

The advantage of forcing the strong hand is just as great in Auction as
in Whist or Bridge, and as a rule it is the best play possible for the
adversaries of the Declarer. The only exception is when the Dummy has
an established suit and a reëntry.

Suppose, for example, with four tricks to play, the Declarer has the
last Trump (Hearts), one Club, and two Diamonds. The Dummy has three
winning Clubs, and the leader a Diamond and winning Spades. He knows he
can force the Declarer's last Trump with a Spade, and generally this
would be his wisest play; but the long Clubs in the Dummy show that the
usual tactics cannot now be employed, and his only chance is to lead a
Diamond hoping that his partner has one or two winners.

It goes without saying that leading a suit the weak adverse hand can
trump, and upon which the strong hand can discard, is carrying out a
custom most commendable at Christmas, but which at the card-table does
not arouse the enthusiasm of the partner.

A player should be most careful not to indicate by some mannerism that
his hand is trickless. By pulling a card before it is his turn to play,
by apparent lack of interest, or by allowing himself to be wrapped in
gloom, he may give the Declarer as much information as if he spread his
hand on the table.


One of the best and most serviceable methods of giving information is
by using "the signal," which is made by the play of an unnecessarily
high card. For example, the Ace and King of a suit are led. The play of
the 6 before the 5 constitutes a signal, as the 6 is an unnecessarily
high card.

The meaning of this signal is that the maker desires the suit, in which
it is made, continued. Playing in ordinary order, lower before higher,
shows that the continuation of that suit is not requested. It is the
old Trump signal of the game of Whist, which, inasmuch as a demand for
a Trump lead is not needed in Auction, has been borrowed and
transformed into a request to continue the suit. This signal was first
used to mean, "I can ruff the third round," but the absurdity of
limiting it to any such meaning soon became apparent, and, as it is now
played, it means, "Partner, continue this suit. I have some reason for
asking you so to do." The failure to give this signal may mean, "Shift
the suit," but does not of necessity do so. It merely says, "Partner, I
have no reason for asking you to lead this suit a third time."

This signal is a most important part of Auction tactics. It can be
given on either the partner's or the Declarer's lead, should always be
used when a continuation of the suit is desired, and should be watched
for by the partner with the most painstaking care. The first trick
sometimes furnishes this information. For example, the play of the
deuce, or of any card which the partner can read as being of necessity
the lowest, tells him that either the card is a singleton or that the
player is not beginning a signal.

When a player is anxious to place his partner in the lead, the signal
may be of the greatest possible value. Suppose, for example, he has two
suits from which to choose. In one of these suits he is without
strength, but his partner may have the Ace. In the other, he has the
Ace himself, and his partner may have the King. If he guess the wrong
suit, the Declarer will get in and take the rest of the tricks. By
leading his Ace and watching the size of the card his partner plays, he
can generally tell what to do. If the lowest card be played, he should
shift the suit. In such a situation, if the partner wish the suit
continued, and has more than two small cards, he should play the
highest so as to emphasize the signal.


The discard which in Whist has been the subject of so many
controversies, and which, even in Bridge, has created some discussion,
does not assume nearly so great importance in Auction. The strength of
the various suits having been clearly indicated by the bid, there is
not as great opportunity to furnish new information by the discard.

It must not, however, be assumed, merely because the Auction discard is
comparatively unimportant, that it is not worthy of consideration. True
it is that there is no need to worry over any such complicated systems
as strength or rotary discards. They are apt to confuse and produce
misunderstandings far more damaging than any possible benefit which
results when they work perfectly. The strength discard may compel the
playing of a card which, if its suit be established, will win a trick,
and the rotary is not always reliable, as the discarder may be void of
the "next suit," or unable to discard from it because it is composed of
high cards only or of necessary guards for single honors. The
"odd-and-even" discard, that is, 3, 5, 7, 9, showing strength, 2, 4, 6,
8, weakness, is very satisfactory when the hands are made to order, but
a certain proportion of hands fail to contain an odd card when the
discarder desires to announce strength, or an even one when he has
extreme weakness. The awkwardness, when using this system, of such a
holding as 3, 5, 7, is self-apparent.

All these plans or fads had their innings in Whist, where important
information had to be conveyed by the discard, but in Auction, they are
about as necessary as pitching a curve to a blind batsman.

The plain, simple, old-fashioned discard from weakness is all that is
used or required, provided it be understood that a signal in the
discard means a reversal of its ordinary inference. A signal by discard
(that is, for example, discarding first a 5, followed by a 2) is
generally a showing of strength in that suit, and a most pronounced
suggestion, if not an imperative command, that it be led at the first
opportunity. The only case in which it is not an evidence of strength
is when it shows a desire to ruff. The signal in the discard is most
serviceable when the Declarer is playing a long suit, and the partner
is in doubt which of the two remaining suits to keep guarded. In this
case it may not be a command to lead, but merely a wireless message
saying, "I have this suit stopped; you take care of the other."

A signal in a discard to show strength is only necessary when it is not
advisable to discard once from each of the other suits, which by
inference gives the same information, yet does not shorten the strong

Strength information can often be transmitted by the weakness discard,
just as quickly and more simply than by the now generally abandoned
strength discard. For example, the discard of the lowest card shows
weakness and negatives all possibility of a strength signal, but if the
first discard be as high as a 7 or 8, and the partner can read, from
the general composition of his hand and the Dummy, that the discarder
must hold a lower card in that suit, he gets the information at once.

Regardless of showing his partner strength or weakness, the player has
ample opportunity to give evidence of skill in discarding. Too much
information should never be given to the Declarer when he is in the
lead and controls the situation. There are many hands in which it
becomes obvious that all the adversaries of the Declarer can hope to
accomplish is the saving of a slam, or the taking of one more trick.
The question is not what to tell the partner to lead when he gets in,
but how to win a single trick. In such a case, a bluff discard, _i.e._,
showing strength where it does not exist, is sometimes effective,
although a keen Declarer is not apt to be easily deceived by any ruse
so transparent. One thing to remember under such circumstances,
however, is not to help the Declarer by showing weakness, so that he
will know which way to finesse. In No-trumps or with the Trumps
exhausted, never discard a singleton, or too many cards of a weak suit.

When a suit has been declared, it is unnecessary, by informatory
discarding, to repeat the announcement of strength. This principle,
just as is the case with other systems of play, is predicated upon the
ability of the partner to remember the bids. If, however, he be unable
to do so, information by discard will obviously be sowing seed on
barren ground, and should be withheld, as the Declarer is the only one
who will reap any benefit.


When the Declarer is playing a No-trump and the Dummy holds a long suit
without reëntry, an adversary of the Declarer may have the opportunity,
when he has a card stopping that suit, of blocking it and preventing
the long cards from making, by holding the winning card until the
Declarer has played what is necessarily his last card of the suit.


The adversaries of the Declarer should avoid opening new suits unless
the situation shows it to be necessary. They should remember that when
the honors of a suit are evenly divided, opening it is practically sure
to cost a trick, and that the starting of any suit, which is not headed
by Ace and King, or a three-card sequence, is almost invariably
disadvantageous. The lead by the partner has been made with some
object, and should, therefore, be returned, except when the holding of
the Dummy or some other development renders such action plainly

Shifting suits is about as advantageous as swapping horses while
crossing a stream, and the advice to return the partner's suit rather
than risk a new one applies with equal force whether a No-trump or suit
declaration is being played, but does not refer to the situation in
which the partner evidently desires that the suit he has declared be
led through strength up to him.


When the original Third Hand returns a suit opened by his partner, he
should lead the winning card, if he hold it. If without the best card,
when the lead is against a No-trump declaration, it is far more
important that a high card should be led through strength, and also
that the holder of the length should be accurately advised as to his
partner's high cards, than that he should be told the exact number of
small ones. Therefore, when playing a No-trumper, the highest card
should be returned from either three or two remaining. With four
remaining (five originally), the holding may be longer than that of the
original leader, and, therefore, the lowest should be led. If the
partner be a keen counter of small cards, the next to the lowest is
doubtless more informatory and just as advantageous as the lowest. When
the original Third Hand returns a suit opened by his partner against a
suit declaration, there is some difference of opinion among good
players as to whether he should follow the Whist rule, which is the
most informatory as to number, and lead the lowest of three remaining,
the higher of two; or whether it is unwise to complicate matters by
distinguishing between this case and the return when a No-trump is
being played. The question is not very important as long as partners
understand which convention is being used.

None of these rules applies in the case, readily distinguishable, in
which the adverse strength in the suit is in the Dummy, and it is
necessary to hold a high card over that hand; the play must then be
made to fit the situation, and not according to any hard-and-fast


The cards of the Dummy being exposed make it easy for the player
sitting back of him to determine when to finesse. As the object of a
finesse is to catch a high card on the right, it is folly to finesse
against nothing--for example, the leader opens with Knave against a
No-trump; the Third Hand has King and others; when the Dummy has the
Queen, it is obvious the King should not be played unless the Queen
cover the Knave, but when the Dummy holds only worthless cards, the
Third Hand should play the King, as, should he finesse against nothing,
he would allow the Queen to win. The leader has opened either from Ace,
Knave, Ten, or a suit headed by a Knave-Ten combination. In the former
case the play of the King insures every trick; in the latter, it helps
clear the suit. It, therefore, is an example of the rule not to finesse
when the Dummy has nothing.

An apparent exception to this rule occurs when the lead is made in
answer to a declaration, or as an evident effort to find the partner's
strength. For example, the original Third Hand, with six Hearts headed
by King, Ten, and two reëntries, has called Hearts. The Declarer is
playing a No-trumper, and the opening is the Knave of Hearts. The Dummy
is without strength. In that case, the Declarer is marked with both the
Ace and Queen of Hearts. The Third Hand should, therefore, play small.
The play of the King cannot be of any benefit, and should the Declarer
have the Nine, will be most expensive. This really is not a finesse
against nothing, but, the position of the winning cards being marked,
is merely a conservation of strength.

The same general principle applies in many similar cases; when,
however, a small card is led, the Third Hand should not finesse, unless
the Dummy contain some high card.

Playing No-trump, the following finesses are advisable over the Dummy:--

        King                 Ace, Queen
                             Ace, Knave
                             Ace, Ten

        King, Knave          Ace, Ten
                             Ace, Nine

        King, Ten            Ace, Nine

        Queen                Ace, Knave
                             Ace, Ten
                             King, Knave
                             King, Ten

        Knave                Ace, Ten
                             King, Ten
                             Queen, Ten

Do not, however, except with a fourchette, finesse against Queen or
Knave singly guarded, when it is evident that the Declarer and Dummy
hold only four cards of the suit, and the Ace or King is marked with
the leader.

When playing No-trump, as a rule do not finesse if so doing will block
the partner's suit.



The score is a very important incident of the game of Auction, and to
keep it properly requires considerable care and skill.

The figures frequently run into high numbers on both sides, and when
the rubber continues during three hotly contested games, they become
quite voluminous.

The score-sheet should be left on the table, and the writing on it
should be of such size that it can be seen at a glance. This saves time
and trouble, as it relieves the players from the necessity of asking
the state of the score.

In some clubs two scores are kept, so that, in the only too probable
contingency of a mistake being made, it may invariably be detected.
This, however, is unnecessary, and at times confusing. The extra sheet
is also apt to prove annoying, because of the space it occupies upon
the table. One score is quite sufficient, if it be competently kept,
and each entry, as well as the additions, verified.

There are two totally different types of Auction score-sheets. The one
which is used in perhaps ninety per cent. of the private games, and,
strange as it may seem, in many clubs, has absolutely no excuse for its
existence, except that it was the first to be introduced and has the
reputation of being universally used in foreign countries. It requires
scoring above and below the line, which is a most cumbersome and
dilatory proposition. Keeping tally by this method involves, at the end
of a rubber, long mathematical problems, which, as the scorer is then
in a hurry, frequently result in serious, and at times undiscovered,

The modern system adopted in the up-to-date clubs, in which the game
has received its most scientific development, and in the highest class
of social games, does away with the antiquated methods and exacting
mathematical problems of the above- and below-the-line system, by using
a form of score-sheet which allows and encourages the scorer to
mentally compute simple sums during the progress of the rubber. By the
elimination of complicated figuring, it minimizes the opportunity for
mistake, and delay at the end of the rubber.

All players are doubtless familiar with the old system of above-and
below-the-line scoring, but only three classes now use it:

    A. Those who have never had the modern system and its advantages
    called to their attention.

    B. Those who believe that, having once become accustomed to any
    method, it should never be changed for a better.

    C. Those who believe that, because foreign clubs adopt a certain
    method, we should do the same.

It is probably wasting time to attempt to convert any representative of
either B or C, and fortunately for the intelligence of American card
players there are comparatively few who deserve to be included in
either of these classifications.

Class A, however, comprises the vast majority of Auction players, who
have either never had the modern system of scoring called to their
attention, or, if they have seen it, have not thoroughly grasped its
numerous advantages, and have continued the old method merely because
they were more familiar with it and did not perfectly understand the
new. It is not putting the matter too strongly to assert that every
intelligent scorer, who gives the new plan a thorough test, never
returns to the trials and vexations incident to keeping the tally above
and below the line.

Sample sheets are appended, showing the up-to-date scoring-blank as it
appears at the beginning of the rubber; the same sheet with a rubber
scored, the net totals being computed at the end of each game; and also
with the same rubber scored, the net totals being computed at the end
of each deal. One scorer will prefer to make up his totals at the end
of a game, another will elect to compute them at the termination of
each deal; but either way the advantages of the score-sheet are

It goes without saying that any system which allows a player to see at
a glance, not only the score of the game, but also the exact status of
the rubber, is more advantageous than one which, until some time after
the rubber is completed, may leave him in the dark as to whether he is
ahead or behind. Some players allow, whether they or their opponents
are in the lead upon the total score of the rubber, to affect their
declarations and doubles. This practice cannot be enthusiastically
commended, but all must admit that for such players the new scoring
system is most essential.

It is, however, mainly as a labor- and time-saving device that the new
plan is advocated. If any one doubt, let him keep the score of any
rubber under the old method while the same rubber is being scored by
some one familiar with the advantages of the new. The result is sure to
be most convincing. Under the new method, the short sums in addition or
subtraction are mentally computed, during the deal of the cards, etc.
This occupies waste time only, and at the end of the rubber, leaves a
very simple, frequently nothing more than a mental, problem.

It has been estimated that during an evening's play, at least one more
rubber can be completed when the scoring is conducted under the new

The various score-sheets, all showing the same rubber, follow.


           OUR SCORE         ||    OPPONENTS' SCORE
           |        |        ||        |        |
           |        |        ||        |        |
           |        |        ||        |        |
           |        |        ||        |        |
           |        |        ||        |        |
           |        |        ||        |        |
           |        |        ||        |        |
           |        |        ||        |        |
           |        |        ||        |        |
           |        |        ||        |        |
           |        |        ||        |        |
           |        |        ||        |        |
           |        |        ||        |        |
           |        |        ||        |        |
           |        |        ||        |        |
           |        |        ||        |        |
           |        |        ||        |        |
           |        |        ||        |        |
           |        |        ||        |        |
           |        |        ||        |        |


           OUR SCORE         ||    OPPONENTS' SCORE
      16   |   32   |        ||        |   18   |   72
           |  100   |        ||        |        |   30
      60   |   60   |   268  ||  120   |        |
           |        |  (148) ||        |        |
           |  216   |   266  ||        |   27   |   18
      20   |   30   |   414  ||  145   |   48   |   52
           |        |  (269) ||        |        |   200
           |   64   |   249  ||        |        |   100
           |   36   |   518  ||  356   |    24  |    32
      21   |   56   |        ||        |        |
      36   |   36   |        ||        |        |
           |        |  (162) ||        |        |
           |        |   250  ||        |        |
           |        |   412  ||        |        |
           |        |        ||        |        |
           |        |        ||        |        |
           |        |        ||        |        |
           |        |        ||        |        |
           |        |        ||        |        |

The score included in the circle is the _net_ total at the end of
each game. It is obtained by subtracting the smaller score from the
larger; as, for example, in the first game above, 120 from 268, which
leaves a net of 148. If a scorer find it more satisfactory to subtract
when the figures are in line, he can always write the smaller amount
under the larger; as, for example, the 120 under the 268.


           OUR SCORE         ||    OPPONENTS' SCORE
      16   |   32   |   48   ||        |        |
           |        |        ||   42   |   18   |   72
           |  100   |    28  ||        |        |   30
      60   |   60   |   148  ||        |        |
           |        |   103  ||        |   27   |   18
           |  216   |   319  ||        |        |
      20   |   30   |   369  ||        |        |
           |        |   269  ||        |   48   |   52
           |   64   |   133  ||        |        |   200
           |   36   |    69  ||        |        |   100
           |        |    13  ||        |    24  |    32
      21   |   56   |    90  ||        |        |
      36   |   36   |   162  ||        |        |
           |        |   250  ||        |        |
           |        |   412  ||        |        |
           |        |        ||        |        |
           |        |        ||        |        |
           |        |        ||        |        |
           |        |        ||        |        |
           |        |        ||        |        |

All figures under the head of totals are net, and show at the end of
each deal the exact status of the rubber. It is also possible, when the
above method is employed, to further reduce the amount of bookkeeping
by making only one entry whenever one pair scores honors and the other
a penalty. This method could have been employed above, deal 3 of game
1, by merely entering 70 under "Our Score" Honors, and also in deal 2
of game 3, by entering 64 under "Opponents' Score" Honors.


         WE    |   THEY
         36    |
         56    |
         36    |     32
         64    |    100
         30    |    200
        216    |     52
         60    |     18
        100    |     30
         32    |     72
         16    |     18
         60    |
         20    |     27
               |     48
         21    |     24
         36    |    ___
        250    |    621
       ____    |
       1033    |
        621    |
       ____    |
        412    |


    | NAMES             |+|-|||+|-|||+|-|||+|-|||+|-|||+|-|
    | ------------------+-+-+++-+-+++-+-+++-+-+++-+-+++-+-|
    |                   | | ||| | ||| | ||| | ||| | ||| | |
    | ------------------+-+-+++-+-+++-+-+++-+-+++-+-+++-+-|
    |                   | | ||| | ||| | ||| | ||| | ||| | |
    | ------------------+-+-+++-+-+++-+-+++-+-+++-+-+++-+-|
    |                   | | ||| | ||| | ||| | ||| | ||| | |
    | ------------------+-+-+++-+-+++-+-+++-+-+++-+-+++-+-|
    |                   | | ||| | ||| | ||| | ||| | ||| | |
    | ------------------+-+-+++-+-+++-+-+++-+-+++-+-+++-+-|
    |                   | | ||| | ||| | ||| | ||| | ||| | |
    | ------------------+-+-+++-+-+++-+-+++-+-+++-+-+++-+-|
    |                   | | ||| | ||| | ||| | ||| | ||| | |
    | ------------------+-+-+++-+-+++-+-+++-+-+++-+-+++-+-|
    |                   | | ||| | ||| | ||| | ||| | ||| | |
    | ------------------+-+-+++-+-+++-+-+++-+-+++-+-+++-+-|
    |                   | | ||| | ||| | ||| | ||| | ||| | |
    | ------------------+-+-+++-+-+++-+-+++-+-+++-+-+++-+-|
    |                   | | ||| | ||| | ||| | ||| | ||| | |
    | ------------------+-+-+++-+-+++-+-+++-+-+++-+-+++-+-|
    |                   | | ||| | ||| | ||| | ||| | ||| | |
    | ------------------+-+-+++-+-+++-+-+++-+-+++-+-+++-+-|
    |                   | | ||| | ||| | ||| | ||| | ||| | |
    | ------------------+-+-+++-+-+++-+-+++-+-+++-+-+++-+-|
    |                   | | ||| | ||| | ||| | ||| | ||| | |
    | ------------------+-+-+++-+-+++-+-+++-+-+++-+-+++-+-|
    |     TOTAL         | | ||| | ||| | ||| | ||| | ||| | |



    | NAMES             |+|-|||+|-|||+|-|||+|-|||+|-|||+ |- |
    | ------------------+-+-+++-+-+++-+-+++-+-+++-+-+++--+--|
    | Smith             |2| |||2| ||| |2||| |3||| |3|||  |2 |
    | ------------------+-+-+++-+-+++-+-+++-+-+++-+-+++--+--|
    | Jones             | |2||| |2||| |6||| |5||| |5|||  |6 |
    | ------------------+-+-+++-+-+++-+-+++-+-+++-+-+++--+--|
    | Brown             |2| |||5| |||5| |||4| |||6| |||6 |  |
    | ------------------+-+-+++-+-+++-+-+++-+-+++-+-+++--+--|
    | White             | |2|||1| |||1| |||2| |||X|X|||X |X |
    | ------------------+-+-+++-+-+++-+-+++-+-+++-+-+++--+--|
    | Green             | | ||| |3|||1| |||1| ||| |1|||  |2 |
    | ------------------+-+-+++-+-+++-+-+++-+-+++-+-+++--+--|
    | King              | | ||| |3|||1| |||1| |||3| |||4 |  |
    | ------------------+-+-+++-+-+++-+-+++-+-+++-+-+++--+--|
    |                   | | ||| | ||| | ||| | ||| | |||  |  |
    | ------------------+-+-+++-+-+++-+-+++-+-+++-+-+++--+--|
    |                   | | ||| | ||| | ||| | ||| | |||  |  |
    | ------------------+-+-+++-+-+++-+-+++-+-+++-+-+++--+--|
    |                   | | ||| | ||| | ||| | ||| | |||  |  |
    | ------------------+-+-+++-+-+++-+-+++-+-+++-+-+++--+--|
    |                   | | ||| | ||| | ||| | ||| | |||  |  |
    | ------------------+-+-+++-+-+++-+-+++-+-+++-+-+++--+--|
    |                   | | ||| | ||| | ||| | ||| | |||  |  |
    | ------------------+-+-+++-+-+++-+-+++-+-+++-+-+++--+--|
    |                   | | ||| | ||| | ||| | ||| | |||  |  |
    | ------------------+-+-+++-+-+++-+-+++-+-+++-+-+++--+--|
    |     TOTAL         |4|4|||8|8|||8|8|||8|8|||9|9|||10|10|

It is always well to total at the end of each rubber and to note the
size of the rubber. These precautions make it easy to correct mistakes,
should any occur.



In 1902, some years before Auction had been heard of in the United
States, a number of the best-known clubs of New York, Philadelphia,
Boston, and other cities were represented at a meeting held in New York
for the purpose of drafting a code of Bridge Laws to be used by the
clubs of this country. The so-called "American Laws of Bridge" were
adopted, and duly published. It was then expected that they would be
universally accepted.

In a few months, however, some clubs, including several that had been
represented at the meeting, found that certain penalties of the
"American Laws" were not popular with their members. One club after
another made alterations or adopted its own code, so that the object in
calling the meeting, namely, club uniformity, was soon as far as ever
from being attained. Gradually, however, the various clubs began to
recognize that the Whist Club of New York deserved to be ranked as the
most conservative and representative card-playing organization in the
United States. They realized that it devoted its attention entirely to
card games, and included in its membership not only the most expert
players of the metropolis, but also of many other cities. It was but
natural, therefore, that the admirable Bridge Code of the Whist Club
should be accepted by one club after another, until in the end the
desideratum of the drafters of the American Laws was virtually

When, in 1909-10, Auction, with its irresistible attractions, in an
incredibly brief space of time made Bridge in this country a game of
the past, the only Auction laws available had been drafted in London by
a joint committee of the Portland and Bath Clubs. They were taken from
the rules of Bridge, which were altered only when necessary to comply
with the requirements of the new game. It is probable that the intent
of the members of the Bath-Portland Committee was merely to meet an
immediate demand, and that they expected to revise their own code as
soon as wider experience with the game demonstrated just what was

Under these circumstances, it was to be expected that the Whist Club of
New York would promulgate a code of Auction laws which would be
accepted from the Atlantic to the Pacific. The club, however, did not
act hastily, and it was not until May, 1910, that it issued its first
edition of "The Laws of Auction Bridge." This was amended in 1911, and
in 1912 subjected to a most thorough and comprehensive revision.

Until the adoption of a national code by an American congress of
Auction players, an event not likely to occur, it is doubtless for the
best interest of Auction in this country that the laws of the Whist
Club of New York be generally followed. Uniformity is most important;
otherwise, players from one city, visiting another, are sure to find
local conditions which will, temporarily at least, prove something of a

When any improvement is suggested, which, after due trial, meets with
local favor, it would seem wise that such suggestion, whether it
emanate from a club committee or an individual, be forwarded to the
Card Committee of the Whist Club of New York. It may be authoritatively
stated that all such ideas will be cordially received, thoroughly
considered, and, if approved, incorporated in the club code at its next

Appended hereto will be found "The Laws of Auction Bridge" as published
by the Whist Club of New York, November, 1912. These laws should be
carefully read, if not studied, by every devotee of the game. No matter
how familiar a player may have been with the old laws, he will find an
examination of the new to be advisable, as the changes are both
numerous and important. If it has not been his practice to keep in
touch with Auction legislation, he should realize that a close
acquaintance with the code which governs the game he is playing will
prove most beneficial.

As the laws speak for themselves, it is not necessary to explain them,
or even to point out the various alterations. The wording in many cases
has been materially changed, in order to clarify and simplify. Some
penalties that seemed too severe have been reduced, and certain
modifications have been made which appear to be in the line of modern
thought. Special attention is called to the elimination of the law
which prevented consultation as to the enforcement of a penalty, and
also of the law which provided that when a wrong penalty was claimed,
none could be enforced. The laws referring to cards exposed after the
completion of the deal, and before the beginning of the play, have been
materially changed, and the law covering insufficient and impossible
declarations has been altered and redrafted. A point worthy of special
attention is Law 52 of the Revised Code. It covers the case, which
occurs with some frequency, of a player making an insufficient bid and
correcting it before action is taken by any other player. Under the old
rule, a declaration once made could not be altered, but now when the
player corrects himself, as, for example, "Two Hearts--I mean three
Hearts"; or "Two Spades--I should say, two Royals," the proper
declaration is allowed without penalty.

The laws follow.



1. The partners first winning two games win the rubber. If the first
two games decide the rubber, a third is not played.


2. A game consists of thirty points obtained by tricks alone, exclusive
of any points counted for honors, chicane, slam, little slam, bonus or

3. Every deal is played out, and any points in excess of the thirty
necessary for the game are counted.

4. When the declarer wins the number of tricks bid, each one above six
counts towards the game: two points when spades are trumps, six when
clubs are trumps, seven when diamonds are trumps, eight when hearts are
trumps, nine when royal spades are trumps and ten when there are no

5. Honors are ace, king, queen, knave and ten of the trump suit; or the
aces when no trump is declared.

6. Honors are credited in the honor column to the original holders,
being valued as follows:--

    _When a Trump is Declared._

    3 honors held between partners equal value of  2 tricks.
    4   "      "    "       "        "     "    "  4   "
    5   "      "    "       "        "     "    "  5   "
    4   "      " in 1 hand           "     "    "  8   "
    4   "      " "  1  " {5th in     "     "    "  9   "
    5   "      " "  1  " {partner's hand   "    " 10   "

    _When no Trump is Declared._

    3 aces held between partners count 30
    4   "    "    "       "        "   40
    4   "    " in one hand         "  100

7. Slam is made when seven by cards is scored by either side,
independently of tricks taken as penalty for the revoke; it adds forty
points to the honor count.[24]

      [24] Law 84 prohibits the revoking side from scoring slam or
      little slam.

8. Little slam is made when six by cards is similarly scored; it adds
twenty points to the honor count.[25]

      [25] Law 84 prohibits the revoking side from scoring slam or
      little slam.

9. Chicane (one hand void of trumps) is equal in value to simple
honors, _i.e._, if the partners, one of whom has chicane, score honors,
it adds the value of three honors to their honor score; if the
adversaries score honors it deducts that value from theirs. Double
chicane (both hands void of trumps) is equal in value to four honors,
and that value must be deducted from the honor score of the

10. The value of honors, slam, little slam or chicane, is not affected
by doubling or redoubling.

11. At the conclusion of a rubber the trick and honor scores of each
side are added, and two hundred and fifty points added to the score of
the winners. The difference between the completed scores is the number
of points of the rubber.

12. A proven error in the honor score may be corrected at any time
before the score of the rubber has been made up and agreed upon.

13. A proven error in the trick score may be corrected prior to the
conclusion of the game in which it occurred. Such game shall not be
considered concluded until a declaration has been made in the following
game, or if it be the final game of the rubber, until the score has
been made up and agreed upon.


14. In cutting, the ace is the lowest card; as between cards of
otherwise equal value, the lowest is the heart, next the diamond, next
the club, and highest the spade.

15. Every player must cut from the same pack.

16. Should a player expose more than one card, the highest is his cut.


17. The prior right of playing is with those first in the room. If
there are more than four candidates of equal standing, the privilege of
playing is decided by cutting. The four who cut the lowest cards play

18. After the table is formed the players cut to decide upon partners,
the two lower playing against the two higher. The lowest is the dealer
who has choice of cards and seats, and who, having made his selection,
must abide by it.

19. Six players constitute a complete table.

20. The right to succeed any player who may retire is acquired by
announcing the desire to do so, and such announcement shall constitute
a prior right to the first vacancy.


21. If, at the end of a rubber, admission is claimed by one or two
candidates, the player or players having played the greatest number of
consecutive rubbers shall withdraw; but when all have played the same
number, they must cut to decide upon the outgoers; the highest are

      [26] See Law 14 as to value of cards in cutting.


22. A candidate desiring to enter a table must declare his intention
before any player at the table cuts a card, whether for the purpose of
beginning a new rubber or of cutting out.

23. In the formation of new tables candidates who have not played at
any existing table have the prior right of entry. Others decide their
right to admission by cutting.

24. When one or more players belonging to an existing table aid in
making up a new one he or they shall be the last to cut out.

25. A player who cuts into one table, while belonging to another,
forfeits his prior right of reëntry into the latter, unless he has
helped to form a new table. In this event he may signify his intention
of returning to his original table when his place at the new one can be

26. Should any player leave a table during the progress of a rubber, he
may, with the consent of the three others, appoint a substitute to play
during his absence; but such appointment shall become void upon the
conclusion of the rubber, and shall not in any way affect the
substitute's rights.

27. If any player break up a table the others have a prior right


28. The pack must not be shuffled below the table nor so that the face
of any card may be seen.

29. The dealer's partner must collect the cards from the preceding deal
and has the right to shuffle first. Each player has the right to
shuffle subsequently. The dealer has the right to shuffle last; but,
should a card or cards be seen during his shuffling, or while giving
the pack to be cut, he must re-shuffle.

30. After shuffling, the cards properly collected must be placed face
downward to the left of the next dealer, where they must remain
untouched until the play with the other pack is finished.


31. Each player deals in his turn; the order of dealing is to the left.

32. The player on the dealer's right cuts the pack, and in dividing it
he must leave not fewer than four cards in each packet; if in cutting
or in replacing one of the two packets a card is exposed, or if there
is any confusion or doubt as to the exact place in which the pack was
divided, there must be a fresh cut.

33. When the player whose duty it is to cut has once separated the
pack, he can neither re-shuffle nor re-cut, except as provided in Law

34. Should the dealer shuffle the cards after the cut, the pack must be
cut again.

35. The fifty-two cards shall be dealt face downward. The deal is not
completed until the last card has been dealt.

36. In the event of a misdeal the cards must be dealt again by the same


37. There _must_ be a new deal--

    _a_ If the cards are not dealt into four packets, one at a time and
    in regular rotation, beginning at the dealer's left.

    _b_ If, during a deal, or during the play, the pack is proven
    incorrect or imperfect.

    _c_ If any card is faced in the pack or is exposed during the deal
    on, above or below the table.

    _d_ If any player has dealt to him a greater number of cards than
    thirteen, whether discovered before or during the play.

    _e_ If the dealer deal two cards at once and then deal a third
    before correcting the error.

    _f_ If the dealer omit to have the pack cut and either adversary
    calls attention to the fact prior to the completion of the deal and
    before either adversary has looked at any of his cards.

    _g_ If the last card does not come in its regular order to the

38. Should three players have their right number of cards, the fourth,
less, and not discover such deficiency until he has played, the deal
stands; he, not being dummy, is answerable for any established revoke
he may have made as if the missing card or cards had been in his hand.
Any player may search the other pack for it or them.

39. If, during the play, a pack be proven incorrect, such proof renders
the current deal void but does not affect any prior score. (See Law 37
b.) If during or at the conclusion of the play one player be found to
hold more than the proper number of cards and another have an equal
number less, the deal is void.

40. A player dealing out of turn or with the adversaries' cards may be
corrected before the last card is dealt, otherwise the deal must stand,
and the game proceed as if the deal had been correct, the player to his
left dealing the next hand. A player who has looked at any of his cards
may not correct such deal, nor may his partner.

41. A player can neither cut, shuffle nor deal for his partner without
the permission of his adversaries.


42. The dealer, having examined his hand, must declare to win at least
one odd trick, either with a declared suit, or at "no trumps."

43. After the dealer has made his declaration, each player in turn,
commencing with the player on the dealer's left, has the right to pass,
to make a higher declaration, to double the last declaration made, or
to redouble a declaration which has been doubled, subject to the
provisions of Law 54.

44. A declaration of a greater number of tricks in a suit of lower
value, which equals the last declaration in value of points, shall be
considered a higher declaration--_e.g._, a declaration of "Three
Spades" is a higher declaration than "One Club."

45. A player in his turn may overbid the previous adverse declaration
any number of times, and may also overbid his partner, but he cannot
overbid his own declaration which has been passed by the three others.

46. The player who makes the final declaration shall play the combined
hands of himself and his partner (the latter becoming dummy), unless
the winning suit was first bid by the partner, in which case he, no
matter what bids have intervened shall play the hand.

47. When the player of the two hands (hereinafter termed "the
declarer") wins at least as many tricks as he declared, he scores the
full value of the tricks won (see Laws 4 and 6). When he fails, neither
the declarer nor his adversaries score anything towards the game, but
his adversaries score in the honor column fifty points for each
under-trick--_i.e._, each trick short of the number declared; or,
if the declaration has been doubled, or redoubled, one hundred or two
hundred respectively for each such trick.

48. The loss on the original declaration by the dealer of "One Spade"
is limited to one hundred points whether doubled or not, unless
redoubled. Honors are scored as held.

49. If a player make a declaration (other than passing) out of turn,
either adversary may demand a new deal, or may allow the declaration so
made to stand, in which case the bidding shall continue as if the
declaration had been in order.

50. If a player make an insufficient or impossible declaration either
adversary may demand that it be penalized, provided such demand be made
before an adversary has passed, doubled or declared. In case of an
insufficient declaration the penalty is that the declarer must make his
bid sufficient and his partner is debarred from making any further
declaration unless an adversary subsequently bids or doubles. In case
of an impossible declaration the penalty is that the declarer is
considered to have bid to take all the tricks and his partner cannot
further declare unless an adversary subsequently bids or doubles.
Either adversary, instead of accepting the impossible declaration, may
demand a new deal or may treat his own or his partner's last previous
declaration as final.

51. If, after the final declaration has been made, an adversary of the
declarer give his partner any information as to any previous
declaration, whether made by himself or an adversary, the declarer may
call a lead from the adversary whose next turn it is to lead; but a
player is entitled to inquire, at any time during the play of the hand,
what was the final declaration.

52. A declaration legitimately made cannot be altered after the next
player has passed, declared or doubled. Prior to such action by the
next player, a declaration inadvertently made may be corrected.


53. The effect of doubling and redoubling is that the value of each
trick over six is doubled or quadrupled, as provided in Law 4; but it
does not alter the value of a declaration--_e.g._, a declaration of
"Three Clubs" is higher than "Two Royal Spades" even if the "Royal
Spade" declaration has been doubled.

54. Any declaration can be doubled and redoubled once, but not more; a
player cannot double his partner's declaration, nor redouble his
partner's double, but he may redouble a declaration of his partner
which has been doubled by an adversary.

55. The act of doubling, or redoubling, reopens the bidding. When a
declaration has been doubled or redoubled, any player, including the
declarer or his partner, can in his proper turn make a further
declaration of higher value.

56. When a player whose declaration has been doubled wins the declared
number of tricks, he scores a bonus of fifty points in the honor
column, and a further fifty points for each additional trick. If he or
his partner has redoubled, the bonus is doubled.

57. If a player double out of turn, either adversary may demand a new

58. When the final declaration has been made the play shall begin, and
the player on the left of the declarer shall lead.


59. As soon as the player to the left of the declarer has led, the
declarer's partner shall place his cards face upward on the table, and
the duty of playing the cards from that hand shall devolve upon the

60. Before placing his cards upon the table the declarer's partner has
all the rights of a player, but after so doing takes no part whatever
in the play, except that he has the right:--

    _a_ To ask the declarer whether he has any of a suit in which he
    has renounced;

    _b_ To call the declarer's attention to the fact that too many or
    too few cards have been played to a trick;

    _c_ To correct the claim of either adversary to a penalty to which
    the latter is not entitled;

    _d_ To call attention to the fact that a trick has been erroneously
    taken by either side;

    _e_ To participate in the discussion of any disputed question of
    fact after it has arisen between the declarer and either adversary;

    _f_ To correct an erroneous score.

61. Should the declarer's partner call attention to any other incident
of the play in consequence of which any penalty might have been
exacted, the declarer is precluded from exacting such penalty.

62. If the declarer's partner, by touching a card or otherwise, suggest
the play of a card from dummy, either adversary may call upon the
declarer to play or not play the card suggested.

63. Dummy is not liable to the penalty for a revoke; if he revoke and
the error be not discovered until the trick is turned and quitted,
whether by the rightful winners or not, the trick must stand.

64. A card from the declarer's own hand is not played until actually
quitted; but should he name or touch a card in the dummy, such card is
considered as played unless he, in touching the card, say, "I arrange,"
or words to that effect. If he simultaneously touch two or more such
cards, he may elect which one to play.


65. If, after the cards have been dealt, and before the trump
declaration has been finally determined, any player lead or expose a
card, the partner of the offending player may not make any further bid
or double during that hand, and the card is subject to call. When the
partner of the offending player is the original leader, the declarer
may prohibit the suit of the exposed card being the initial lead.

66. If, after the final declaration has been made and before a card is
led, the partner of the leader to the first trick expose a card, the
declarer may, in addition to calling the card, prohibit the lead of the
suit of the exposed card; should the rightful leader expose a card it
is subject to call.


67. All cards exposed after the original lead by the declarer's
adversaries are liable to be called, and such cards must be left face
upward on the table.

68. The following are exposed cards:--

    1st. Two or more cards played at once.

    2d. Any card dropped with its face upward on the table, even though
    snatched up so quickly that it cannot be named.

    3d. Any card so held by a player that his partner sees any portion
    of its face.

    4th. Any card mentioned by either adversary as being held by him or
    his partner.

69. A card dropped on the floor or elsewhere below the table or so held
that an adversary but not the partner sees it, is not an exposed card.

70. If two or more cards are played at once by either of the declarer's
adversaries, the declarer shall have the right to call any one of such
cards to the current trick, and the other card or cards are exposed.

71. If, without waiting for his partner to play, either of the
declarer's adversaries play or lead a winning card, as against the
declarer and dummy, and continue (without waiting for his partner to
play) to lead several such cards, the declarer may demand that the
partner of the player in fault win, if he can, the first or any other
of these tricks, and the other cards thus improperly played are exposed

72. If either or both of the declarer's adversaries throw his or their
cards on the table face upward, such cards are exposed and are liable
to be called; but if either adversary retain his hand he cannot be
forced to abandon it. Cards exposed by the declarer are not liable to
be called. If the declarer say, "I have the rest," or any other words
indicating that the remaining tricks or any number thereof are his, he
may be required to place his cards face upward on the table. His
adversaries are not liable to have any of their cards called should
they thereupon expose them.

73. If a player who has rendered himself liable to have the highest or
lowest of a suit called (Laws 80, 86 and 92) fail to play as directed,
or if, when called on to lead one suit he lead another, having in his
hand one or more cards of the suit demanded (Laws 76 and 93), or if,
called upon to win or lose a trick, fail to do so when he can (Laws 71,
80 and 92), or if, when called upon not to play a suit, fail to play as
directed (Laws 65 and 66), he is liable to the penalty for revoke,
unless such play be corrected before the trick is turned and quitted.

74. A player cannot be compelled to play a card which would oblige him
to revoke.

75. The call of an exposed card may be repeated until such card has
been played.


76. If either of the declarer's adversaries lead out of turn the
declarer may either treat the card so led as an exposed card or may
call a suit as soon as it is the turn of either adversary to lead.

77. If the declarer lead out of turn, either from his own hand or from
dummy, he incurs no penalty; but he may not rectify the error after the
second hand has played.

78. If any player lead out of turn and the three others follow, the
trick is complete and the error cannot be rectified; but if only the
second, or second and third play to the false lead, their cards may be
taken back; there is no penalty against any except the original
offender, who, if he be one of the declarer's adversaries, may be
penalized as provided in Law 76.

79. If a player called on to lead a suit has none of it, the penalty is


80. Should the fourth hand, not being dummy or declarer, play before
the second, the latter may be called upon to play his highest or lowest
card of the suit played, or to win or lose the trick.

81. If any one, not being dummy, omit playing to a trick and such error
is not corrected until he has played to the next, the adversaries or
either of them may claim a new deal; should either decide that the deal
is to stand, the surplus card at the end of the hand is considered to
have been played to the imperfect trick, but does not constitute a
revoke therein.

82. When any one, except dummy, plays two or more cards to the same
trick and the mistake is not corrected, he is answerable for any
consequent revokes he may have made. When during the play the error is
detected, the tricks may be counted face downward, to see if any
contain more than four cards; should this be the case, the trick which
contains a surplus card or cards may be examined and the card or cards
restored to the original holder, who (not being dummy) shall be liable
for any revoke he may meanwhile have made.


83. A revoke occurs when a player, other than dummy, holding one or
more cards of the suit led, plays a card of a different suit. It
becomes an established revoke if the trick in which it occurs is turned
and quitted by the rightful winners (_i.e._, the hand removed from
the trick after it has been turned face downward on the table); or if
either the revoking player or his partner, whether in turn or
otherwise, lead or play to the following trick.

      [27] See Law 73.

84. The penalty for each established revoke is:--

    (_a_) When the declarer revokes, his adversaries add 150 points to
    their score in the honor column, in addition to any penalty which
    he may have incurred for not making good his declaration.

    (_b_) If either of the adversaries revoke, the declarer may either
    add 150 points to his score in the honor column, or may take three
    tricks from his opponents and add them to his own. Such tricks may
    assist the declarer to make good his declaration, but shall not
    entitle him to score any bonus in the honor column, in the case of
    the declaration having been doubled or re-doubled.

    (_c_) When more than one revoke is made by the same side during the
    play of the hand the penalty for each revoke after the first, shall
    be 100 points in the honor column.

A revoking side cannot score, except for honors or chicane.

85. A player may ask his partner if he has a card of the suit which he
has renounced; should the question be asked before the trick is turned
and quitted, subsequent turning and quitting does not establish a
revoke, and the error may be corrected unless the question is answered
in the negative, or unless the revoking player or his partner has led
or played to the following trick.

86. If a player correct his mistake in time to save a revoke, any
player or players who have followed him may withdraw their cards and
substitute others, and the cards so withdrawn are not exposed. If the
player in fault is one of the declarer's adversaries, the card played
in error is exposed and the declarer may call it whenever he pleases;
or he may require the offender to play his highest or lowest card of
the suit to the trick, but this penalty cannot be exacted from the

87. At the end of a hand the claimants of a revoke may search all the
tricks. If the cards have been mixed the claim may be urged and proved
if possible; but no proof is necessary and the claim is established if,
after it has been made, the accused player or his partner mix the cards
before they have been sufficiently examined by the adversaries.

88. A revoke must be claimed before the cards have been cut for the
following deal.

89. Should both sides revoke, the only score permitted shall be for
honors in trumps or chicane. If one side revoke more than once, the
penalty of 100 points for each extra revoke shall then be scored by the
other side.


90. Once a trick is complete, turned and quitted, it must not be looked
at (except under Law 82) until the end of the hand.

91. Any player during the play of a trick or after the four cards are
played, and before they are touched for the purpose of gathering them
together, may demand that the cards be placed before their respective

92. If either of the declarer's adversaries, prior to his partner
playing, call attention to the trick, either by saying it is his, or
without being requested so to do, by naming his card or drawing it
towards him, the declarer may require such partner to play his highest
or lowest card of the suit led, or to win or lose the trick.

93. Either of the declarer's adversaries may call his partner's
attention to the fact that he is about to play or lead out of turn; but
if, during the play of a hand, he make any unauthorized reference to
any incident of the play, or of any bid previously made, the declarer
may call a suit from the adversary whose turn it is next to lead.

94. In all cases where a penalty has been incurred the offender is
bound to give reasonable time for the decision of his adversaries.


95. Unless a pack is imperfect, no player shall have the right to call
for one new pack. If fresh cards are demanded, two packs must be
furnished. If they are produced during a rubber, the adversaries shall
have the choice of the new cards. If it is the beginning of a new
rubber, the dealer, whether he or one of his adversaries is the party
calling for the new cards, shall have the choice. New cards must be
called for before the pack is cut for a new deal.

96. A card or cards torn or marked must be replaced by agreement or new
cards furnished.


97. While a bystander, by agreement among the players, may decide any
question, he should not say anything unless appealed to; and if he make
any remark which calls attention to an oversight affecting the score,
or to the exaction of a penalty, he is liable to be called upon by the
players to pay the stakes (not extras) lost.


In Auction Bridge slight intimations convey much information. A code is
compiled for the purpose of succinctly stating laws and for fixing
penalties for an offense. To offend against etiquette is far more
serious than to offend against a law; for, while in the latter case the
offender is subject to the prescribed penalties, in the former his
adversaries have no redress.

1. Declarations should be made in a simple manner, thus: "One Heart,"
"one No-trump," or "I pass," or "I double"; they should be made orally
and not by gesture.

2. Aside from his legitimate declaration, a player should not give any
indication by word or gesture as to the nature of his hand, or as to
his pleasure or displeasure at a play, a bid or a double.

3. If a player demand that the cards be placed, he should do so for his
own information and not to call his partner's attention to any card or

4. No player, other than the declarer, should lead until the preceding
trick is turned and quitted; nor, after having led a winning card,
should he draw another from his hand before his partner has played to
the current trick.

5. A player should not play a card with such emphasis as to draw
attention to it. Nor should he detach one card from his hand and
subsequently play another.

6. A player should not purposely incur a penalty because he is willing
to pay it, nor should he make a second revoke to conceal a first.

7. Players should avoid discussion and refrain from talking during the
play, as it may be annoying to players at the table or to those at
other tables in the room.

8. The dummy should not leave his seat for the purpose of watching his
partner's play, neither should he call attention to the score nor to
any card or cards that he or the other players hold, nor to any bid
previously made.

9. If a player say "I have the rest," or any words indicating the
remaining tricks are his, and one or both of the other players should
expose his or their cards, or request him to play out the hand, he
should not allow any information so obtained to influence his play nor
take any finesse not announced by him at the time of making such claim,
unless it had been previously proven to be a winner.

10. If a player concede in error one or more tricks, the concession
should stand.

11. A player having been cut out of one table should not seek admission
into another unless willing to cut for the privilege of entry.

12. No player should look at any of his cards until the deal is


Since the adoption of the foregoing code, the Card Committee of the
Whist Club of New York has rendered the following decisions,
interpreting certain laws that have caused discussion. The cases in
question have arisen in various localities,--Number 6, for example,
coming from St. Louis, Number 7 from Northern New York, and Number 8
from Mexico.


A bids out of turn. Y and Z consult as to whether they shall allow the
declaration to stand or demand a new deal. B claims that, by reason of
the consultation, the right to enforce a penalty is lost.


Rule 49 does not prohibit consultation. It provides that "either
adversary may demand a new deal or allow the declaration to stand."
This obviously only means that the decision first made by either shall
be final. The old law prohibiting consultation has been stricken from
the code, and the action seems wise, as such a question as, "Will you
enforce the penalty, or shall I?" is really a consultation, and
consequently an evasion of the law.

There does not seem to be any sound reason for preventing partners
entitled to a penalty or choice of penalties from consulting, and as
the laws at present stand, there is unquestionably nothing prohibiting

B's claim, therefore, is not allowed.


A bids two Hearts, Y bids two Diamonds,--B demands that the Y
declaration be made sufficient. Y says, "I correct my declaration to
three Diamonds." B passes, Z bids three No-trumps. A claims that Z has
no right to bid.


Law 50 provides that "in case of an insufficient declaration ... the
partner is debarred from making any further declaration." This exactly
covers the case in question. True it is that Law 52 provides that,
prior to the next player passing, declaring, or doubling, a declaration
inadvertently made may be corrected. The obvious intent of this law is
that it shall apply when a player says, "Two Diamonds--I mean, three
Diamonds"; or, "Two Spades--I mean two Royals"; and that such
correction shall be allowed without penalty if the declaration has
really been inadvertently made and neither adversary has taken any
action whatever. We interpret 52 by reading into it the additional
words, "or either adversary calls attention to the insufficient
declaration." The construction put upon 52 by Y would result in
nullifying a most important part of 50.

The claim of A is sustained.


At the conclusion of the play the cards are turned face downward
preparatory to the next deal. It is then discovered that the pack
contains two Queens of Clubs and no Knave of Clubs. The score has been
claimed and admitted, but not recorded.

Is the deal which has just been completed, void?


Rule 39 provides that "If, _during the play_, a pack be proven
incorrect, such proof renders the _current_ deal void, but does not
affect any prior score."

"Current" may be defined as "in actual progress," "belonging to the
time immediately passing."

It seems clear, therefore, that as the discovery of the imperfection
did not occur during "the current deal," the result of it becomes "a
prior score," which under the terms of the rule is not affected.


A player belonging to one table expresses his desire to enter another,
and cuts in. At the end of the rubber he claims that he is not obliged
to cut with the others.


Rule 24 provides that "When one or more players belonging to an
existing table aid in making up a new one, he or they shall be the last
to cut out." This rule applies only when a player leaves an existing
table to help make up another, when, without him, there would not be
four players for the new table.

When a player leaves a table and cuts into another, his presence not
being required to complete the table he enters, he has the same
standing as the others at that table.


A player belonging to one table expresses his desire to join another,
cuts for the privilege of entering in accordance with Rule 23, and
fails to cut in. At the end of the rubber, must he cut again?


By his first cut he lost his rights at his former table and became a
member of the new table; at the end of the rubber he has the right to
enter without cutting.


The bidding in an Auction deal was as follows:--

                 _1st            2d             3d
                  Round          Round          Round_

    North         3 Royals       Redouble       Double
    East          No             No             No
    South         4 Hearts       No             Double
    West          Double         6 Clubs        Claims new deal

The deal was played and resulted in the Declarer taking six tricks, a
loss of 600. The question is whether West's claim should be sustained
or this score counted, it being a part of the case stated that the
declaration which was the subject of complaint was made inadvertently.


Law 54 provides that "A player cannot redouble his partner's double,"
but does not penalize such action. The prohibition is intended to
prevent an increase in the value of the tricks and a penalty is not
attached, as the additional double is generally a careless act, not
likely to materially benefit the offending player.

It goes without saying that any such double is most irregular, and any
suggestion of strength thereby conveyed will not be used by an
honorable partner. The same comment applies to the remark, sometimes
made, "Partner, I would have doubled if you had not."

A player repeatedly guilty of such conduct, or of intentionally
violating any other law, should be reprimanded, and, if the offense be
continued, ostracized.

In the case under consideration, this question does not arise, as it is
conceded that the act was simply an inadvertence. Even, however, had
its _bona fides_ been questioned, the decision would of necessity be
that the score be counted, as the laws do not provide a penalty for the


The bidding in an Auction deal was as follows:--

                 _1st         2d            3d        4th
                 Round       Round         Round     Round_

        North   1 Club      1 Heart       2 Hearts     No
        East    1 Diamond   No            Double       No
        South   No          No            3 Clubs
        West    No          2 Diamonds    No

South claimed that his partner, having abandoned the Club declaration,
he (South) became the real Club bidder, and, having made the final
declaration, was entitled to play the combined hands.


Rule 46 provides that when the winning suit was first bid by the
partner, _no matter what bids have intervened_, he shall play the

This rule decides the case.


At about the seventh or eighth trick, the left-hand adversary of the
Declarer remarks, "If you have all of the tricks, lay down your hand."
The Declarer does not answer, but continues the play in the usual

One trick later the same adversary says, "Lay down your hand,"
whereupon almost simultaneously the Declarer and the adversary who has
done the talking place their hands face upward on the table.

The Declarer then states that he can take all the tricks. The play is
not completed, but examination shows one trick may be taken by the
adversaries of the Declarer if he do not finesse in a certain way.

Under these irregular circumstances, should the Declarer lose the


Law 72 provides, "If either or both of the declarer's adversaries throw
his or their cards on the table face upward, such cards are exposed and
liable to be called; but if either adversary retain his hand, he cannot
be forced to abandon it. Cards exposed by the declarer are not liable
to be called. If the declarer say, 'I have the rest,' or any other
words indicating that the remaining tricks or any number thereof are
his, he may be required to place his cards face upward on the table.
His adversaries are not liable to have any of their cards called should
they thereupon expose them."

Section 9 of Etiquette provides: "If a player say, 'I have the rest,'
or any words indicating the remaining tricks are his and one or both of
the other players expose his or their cards or request him to play out
the hand, he should not allow any information, so obtained, to
influence his play, nor take any finesse not announced by him at the
time of making such claim, unless it had been previously proven to be a

The case under consideration is covered by the first portion of Law 72.
The latter portion of that law does not apply, as the opponent did not
place his cards on the table after a claim by the Declarer.

The law seems clear, the cards of the adversary are exposed and subject
to call--the cards of the Declarer cannot be called.

The etiquette of the game, however, must not be disregarded.

The plain intent of Section 9 and the justice of the case is that, if
the Declarer place his hand on the table claiming the remaining tricks,
he should not receive a doubtful trick unless, when he made his claim,
he contemplated any finesse necessary to obtain it.

If he did not intend to finesse that way, or did not then realize that
a finesse would be necessary, he should, under these circumstances,
voluntarily surrender the trick.

The reason for this is that, should a Declarer claim all the tricks,
the opponent who requires the hand to be played out would naturally
hold the strength; the locus of the request, therefore, suggests the
way to win the finesse.

It is most advantageous for the interest of Auction that, when no real
play remains, time should not be wasted, but neither side should in any
way benefit by an effort to avoid useless delay.

In the case under consideration, however, the adversary suggests that
the hands be placed on the table, and the Declarer may naturally expect
that the only card which might take a trick will drop.

There is no reason to assume that the Declarer will not finesse
correctly, and it is not just that the act of his opponent should
deprive him of the opportunity of so doing.

The decision, therefore, is that the Declarer is entitled to the
disputed trick.


Dummy leaves the table to get a glass of water. As he returns to his
seat, he sees his partner's hand and notices that he is revoking.

Has he, under these circumstances, the right to ask him whether he has
any more of the suit?


Law 60 gives the Dummy the right to ask this question, and does not
specify that he must be in his seat to avail himself of the privilege.

Section 9 of Etiquette provides that Dummy shall not leave his seat for
the purpose of watching his partner's play; but even should he do so,
his breach of etiquette would not deprive him of the rights given him
by law.

An adversary may unquestionably object to the Dummy watching the play
of the Declarer.

That, however, is not the case under consideration. The penalty for the
revoke is the most severe in Auction, many think it unreasonably so,
and a player is unquestionably entitled to every protection the law
affords him.

The decision, therefore, is that, under the conditions named, the
question may be asked.


With three tricks to play, the Declarer throws his cards face upward on
the table, claiming the remaining tricks. His opponents admit his
claim, and the score is entered. The Dummy then calls the attention of
the table to the fact that, had a certain lead been made, the Declarer
could not have taken all the tricks.

Query: Under the circumstances, is the Declarer entitled to all the
tricks; first, viewing the question solely from a strict interpretation
of the laws; and second, from the standpoint of good sportsmanship?


Section 10 of Etiquette provides, "If a player concede in error one or
more tricks, the concession should stand." There is no law affecting
this situation, and, therefore, the section of Etiquette above quoted
clearly covers the first portion of the query.

As to whether good sportsmanship would require the Declarer, under such
circumstances, to voluntarily surrender any of the tricks to which he
is entitled by law, does not seem to produce a more serious question.

It is true that the adversaries, by overlooking a possible play, made a
concession that was not required, and that the Dummy noticed the error
of the adversaries. Why, however, should the Dummy be obliged to
correct this error any more than any other mistake of his opponents?

It is perfectly clear that, had a similar error been made by the
Declarer, the Dummy could not have saved himself from suffering by
reason of it, and, whether the question be either a strict
interpretation of law or of sportsmanship, it is a poor rule that does
not work both ways.

Both parts of the query are, therefore, answered in the affirmative.


The Declarer leads three rounds of Trumps, on the third an adversary

Later in the play the Declarer leads a winning card which is trumped by
the adversary who has refused Trumps.

The player who trumped the trick gathered it.

The Declarer said, "How did you win it?"

The player answered, "I trumped it."

The Dummy then said, "Who trumped it?"

After this remark by the Dummy, the Declarer claims a revoke, the claim
is disputed upon the ground that the Dummy called the revoke to the
attention of the Declarer. The Declarer states that he would have made
the claim, regardless of Dummy's remark.

Query: Should the revoke be allowed?


Law 60 prescribes explicitly the privileges of the Dummy after he has
placed his hand on the table.

There are exactly six things which he may do and no more.

Law 61 provides, "Should the declarer's partner call attention to any
other incident of the play in consequence of which any penalty might
have been exacted, the declarer is precluded from exacting such

Inasmuch as asking "Who won the trick?" is not one of the six
privileges allowed the Dummy, such action is irregular, and must, of
necessity, call attention to the revoke. Had the Dummy actually claimed
the revoke, it would preclude the exaction of a penalty, even had the
Declarer been about to claim it. It is, therefore, immaterial whether
the Declarer would have noticed the revoke had the Dummy not made the
irregular remark.

The question is decided in the negative.


The adversaries of the Declarer take ten tricks, but revoke. Under
these conditions, can either side score "except for honors or chicane?"


Law 84 provides that "a revoking side cannot score, except for honors
or chicane."

It also provides: "If either of the adversaries revoke, the declarer
may either add 150 points to his score in the honor column or may take
three tricks from his opponents and add them to his own. Such tricks
may assist the declarer to make good his declaration."

It is evident that the Declarer is given the option of either scoring
150 points or taking three tricks, should he prefer to make good his
declaration rather than receive the bonus.

In the case cited, three tricks could not fulfill the contract, but
should a thoughtless or generous Declarer elect to take a penalty which
would not benefit him, in preference to 150, he would be acting within
his rights.

The rule clearly decides this case. The adversaries "cannot score
except for honors or chicane," and the Declarer can "add 150 to his
score in the honor column" if he elect so to do.

Acknowledgment is made of the courtesy of The Whist Club of New York in
permitting the publication of its code of laws and of the decisions of
its Card Committee.


For the benefit of those who wish to hastily ascertain the penalty for
an offense or to refer to the law upon the subject, the following table
of summarized penalties has been prepared. It does not include every
possible penalty, but merely those of most frequent occurrence.

OFFENSE                          PENALTY                       LAW

Revoke by Declarer               150 points                    84 _a_
Revoke by Adversary              150 points or 3 tricks        84 _b_
Revoke by Dummy                  None                          63
Second revoke in same hand       100 points                    84 _c_

Lead out of turn by Declarer     None                          77

                               { Exposed card
Lead out of turn by Adversary  {     or                        76
                               { Called lead

Card exposed during deal         New deal                      37 _c_

                               { Partner cannot bid nor
Card exposed after deal and    { lead suit of card and card    65
  before end of bidding        { may be called

                               { May be called and if exposed
Card exposed after end of      { by Third Hand that suit       66
  bidding and before lead      { not be led

Card exposed      { Declarer     None                          72
  during          {
  play by         { Adversary    May be called               { 67
                                                             { 72

Two or more cards played at      All may be called             70
  once by adversary

Not playing to trick             New deal                      81
Playing 2 cards to trick         Liable for revoke             82
Playing with less than 13 cards  Liable for revoke             38
Holding 14 cards                 New deal                      37 _d_

Misdeal                          New deal                    { 36
                                                             { 37

Dealing out of turn or with      May be corrected before       40
  wrong cards                    last card is dealt

Declaration out of turn          New deal                      49
Double out of turn               New deal                      57
Pass out of turn                 None                          49

Insufficient declaration         Made sufficient and partner   50
                                 debarred from bidding

Impossible declaration           Made 7 tricks and partner     50
                                 debarred from bidding; or
                                 new deal; or previous
                                 declaration may be made final

Dummy's calling attention to     Penalty for offense           61
  eliminated any offense

Dummy's suggesting a play        It may be required or         62

Declarer's naming or touching    May have to play it           64
  card in Dummy

Adversary's calling attention    Partner may be required to    92
  to trick                       play highest or lowest card
                                 or win or lose trick

Giving information about         Called lead                   51
  bidding after final bid

Fourth Hand playing before       Second Hand may be required   80
  Second                         to play highest or
                                 lowest card or win or lose

Cutting more than one card       Must take highest             16



The introduction of the count now in use has produced so radical a
change in the game of Auction that of necessity innumerable differences
of opinion have arisen among individual players.

Many questions have been submitted to arbitrators for decision. In some
cases the author of AUCTION OF TO-DAY has been complimented by being
called upon for his opinion, and a few queries that seem to be upon
points of general interest, with the answers given, follow.


What is the correct original bid of the Dealer in the following cases?

    1. Seven Diamonds, headed by Knave, Ten; Ace of Spades; Ace of
    Hearts; Ace and three small Clubs.

    2. The same hand, except that the Clubs are Ace, King, and two

    3. The same two hands, with the Diamonds headed by Queen, Knave,


These hands are evidently conceived for the purpose of proving
vulnerable the rule that a suit should not be called without the Ace or
King. They doubtless never did and probably never will occur in actual
play, but most aptly illustrate a point of declaration, and are,
therefore, worthy of consideration.

It must be remembered that in the extraordinary case any convention of
declaration may be varied to suit the hand. Undoubtedly, the last rule
to permit exception is that above mentioned. For the purpose of
emphasis it may properly be said to be without exception, and yet, if
any such holding actually happen, it may become necessary for the
Declarer to take a little leeway. It cannot affect the confidence of
the partner if a player, only under such extraordinary circumstances,
departs from the conventional, and the remarkable character of the hand
guarantees that harm will not result in the particular instance.

All of the above hands contain three Aces, yet a No-trump should not be
bid, as it would probably be left in, and with two singleton Aces they
are dangerous No-trumpers, but strong Diamonds.

The hands are much too strong to call one Spade, as that also might not
be overbid. Two Spades followed by Diamonds would be quite
satisfactory, would avoid breaking the rule, but would not include the
effort to eliminate adverse bidding which, with a hand of this
character, might be desirable.

Two Diamonds is not permissible, as that is the conventional call for a
solid Diamond suit.

There is no reason, however, that three or more Diamonds or Clubs
should not indicate a long weak Trump suit with such additional
strength that one Spade is an unsafe call. Such a bid would suggest
that a game is probable in the suit named. It is not a recognized bid
and would rarely be used, but an intelligent partner would at once
grasp its meaning.

The answer to the above, therefore, is

    1. Three Diamonds.

    2. Three, or even Four, Diamonds. (The bid of one Club might be
    left in.)

    3. Three or 4 Diamonds in first; 4 in second.


Would it not improve the game of Auction and increase the amount of
skill required in the declaration if the value of Royal Spades be
altered from 9 to 5?


The basic theory of the present count is to equalize, as nearly as
possible, the value of the five declarations, in order to produce the
maximum amount of competition in bidding. This has proved most popular
with the mass of players, and has been universally adopted not only in
this country, but also in England, France, and Russia. To decrease the
value of the Royal Spade from 9 to 5, would be a distinct step
backward. In that case it would take 4, instead of 3, Royal Spades to
overbid two No-trumps; and 6, instead of 4, to overbid three No-trumps.
It is not likely that any change, which diminishes the ability of the
holder of Spades (or of any suit) to compete with a No-trump, will ever
appeal to Auction devotees. The greater the possibility for competitive
bidding, the greater the opportunity for displaying skill in that
branch of the game.


Should the Dealer bid one Club, holding Ace and King of Clubs, four
small Spades, four small Hearts, Ace, Queen, and one small Diamond?


No. One Club deceives the partner. It indicates length in Clubs, and
may induce him to advance that suit too far. In the event of an adverse
No-trump, it will probably result in the lead of the partner's highest
Club, which is apt to prove extremely disastrous. One No-trump is far
safer than one Club, and might be defended on the ground that with four
cards in each of the two weak suits the danger of a long adverse run is

One Spade, however, places the Dealer in a splendid position to advance
any call his partner may make, and is doubtless the sound bid.


Is it not an objection to the count now in use that the Spade suit is
given two values, and would it not be wise to make Spades 9, and allow
the Dealer to pass the original declaration?


The advisability of this plan was thoroughly considered before the
present count was suggested. It would make a pass by the Dealer equal
to the present declaration of one Spade, and in the event of the four
players all passing, presumably would necessitate a new deal. It would
eliminate two, three, and four Spade bids by the Dealer and Second
Hand, and the double of one Spade by the latter.

It would relieve the Third Hand from determining whether to take his
partner out of one Spade, and take from the Fourth Hand the decision of
whether to play for a penalty of 100 or try for game. It is evident,
therefore, that it would take a great deal out of the bidding of every
one of the four players, and it is hard to believe that any scheme
tending to decrease the variety of, and amount of skill required for,
the declaration, is to the advantage of the game.

The objection to having two Spade values is purely theoretical, as
players are not in the least embarrassed thereby, nor is the number of
declarations at present a part of the game cumbersome or confusing. The
argument, that if there be two Spade values there might equally well be
two values for each of the other suits, almost answers itself. Having
more than one Royal declaration would of necessity result in
complications, and, of course, only one defensive call is needed. With
the advantages of the Spade bid so numerous and evident, and with no
real disadvantage apparent, there does not seem to be any sound reason
for abandoning it.


Dealer bids one Royal. Second Hand holds Ace, King, Queen, Knave, and
Ten of Clubs; Ace, King, and two small Diamonds; Ace and two small
Hearts; one small Spade. What should he bid?


Three Clubs. The holding thoroughly justifies a No-trump, as the hand
contains eight sure tricks. If, however, the partner cannot stop the
Spades, the adversaries will save the game at once, while eleven Club
tricks is not an impossibility. Furthermore, the partner may have the
Spades stopped if _led up to_ him, but not if led _through_

The Declaration of _three_ Clubs (one more than necessary) tells the
partner the situation, and accomplishes two purposes:--if the partner
have not the Spades stopped, the game is still possible; if the partner
have the Spades stopped, if led up to him, it instructs him to call two
No-trumps, whereas a No-trump bid by the Second Hand, with the same
cards, might fail to produce game, because the position of the opening
lead would then be reversed.


Dealer bids one No-trump; Second Hand, two Hearts. Third Hand holds

    Spades    Knave, Ten, and three small
    Hearts    One small
    Diamonds  Two small
    Clubs     Ace, Queen, Knave, and two small

What should be bid?


Two Royals. This hand, especially with an adverse Heart call, is much
more apt to go game at Royals than at No-trump. Two Royals asks to be
let alone; three Clubs practically commands the partner to bid two
No-trumps if he have the Hearts stopped.

This is but an expansion of the principle that the original call of one
Club or one Diamond suggests a No-trump, while one Heart or one Royal
indicates a desire to try for game in the suit named.


Is it fair for partners to agree that the bid of one Spade shall mean
weakness; one Club, general strength; and two Clubs, strength in Clubs?


It is perfectly fair for players to use the above-described, or any
other convention, provided their adversaries understand its meaning.
Conventions are an essential part of Auction. The lead of a King to
show the Ace is a convention--so is every informatory play or
declaration. When plays or bids are generally understood, it is
unnecessary for players to explain their significance, but the
adversaries should have all the information upon the subject possessed
by the partner, and nothing approaching a private understanding should


The Dealer bids one No-trump, holding

    Spades    Ace, Queen, Ten, and three small
    Hearts    Ace, Queen
    Diamonds  Ace, and one small
    Clubs     Ace, and two small

Second and Third Hands pass; Fourth Hand, two Diamonds.

What should the Dealer declare on the second round?


Two Royals. The hand is far too strong to pass, while to bid two
No-trumps is foolish, as, unless the partner hold the King of Spades,
it is almost certain that the contract cannot be fulfilled.

Two Royals is safe and presents a good chance of game. A game in Royals
is far more valuable than 100 for Aces, which may be reduced, if not
wiped out, by penalties for under-tricks.


Score, Love. Dealer bids one Spade; Second Hand, one Diamond; Third
Hand, one Royal; Fourth Hand, two Clubs.

Second round, Dealer bids two Royals; Second Hand, three Clubs; Third
Hand, three Royals; Fourth Hand, four Diamonds.

Dealer holds

    Spades    Knave, 10, 7
    Hearts    King, Knave, 8
    Diamonds  7, 4, 3
    Clubs     King, 7, 6, 3

Should he double the four Diamond declaration?


A bid of four Diamonds should never be doubled at a love score unless
the Doubler be reasonably sure of defeating the declaration. In this
case he may expect to win one Club, and possibly one Heart, although
that is not sure. Either the Declarer or the Dummy may be without
Spades. The double does not seem reasonably safe and may keep the
partner from a successful bid of four Royals. The Dealer, therefore,
should pass.

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