Play of the hand

The contract level sets a specific target: in the example above, the declarer must attempt to win ten tricks (the assumed "book" of six, plus four as bid, with spades as trumps), to make the contract and get a positive score. Success in this goal is rewarded by points in the scoring phase for the declarer's side. If the declarer fails to make the contract, the defenders are said to have set or defeated the contract (declarer has gone down), and are awarded points for doing so. To begin play, the defender on the declarer's left makes the opening lead by placing his selection face up on the table. In more formal play, the opening leader first places the card face down on the table to afford his partner an opportunity to ask questions about the auction, then faces it when partner has no further questions. This practice also allows the defender to return the card to his hand without penalty if the lead is in error and not his to make. The dummy then spreads his hand on the table with each suit in a column from highest to lowest facing the declarer, customarily with any trump suit on declarer's left and the colors of the suits alternating. The rules of play are similar to other trick-taking games, except that the declarer directs the play of cards from the dummy in addition to playing cards from his own hand. Dummy is allowed to try to prevent declarer from infringing the rules, but otherwise must not interfere with the play; for example, dummy may attempt to prevent declarer from leading from the wrong hand (by stating, e.g., "you won the last trick in dummy") but must not comment on opponents' actions or make suggestions as to play. The hands play clockwise around the table, and each hand must "follow suit" (that is, play a card of the suit lead to the trick) if able. A hand that cannot follow suit may either "ruff" (play a trump) if the e is a trump suit or "sluff" (play a card of any other suit). The hand that plays either the highest trump or, in a trick that contains no trumps, the highest card of the suit led to the trick (1) wins the trick for its side and (2) proceeds to lead to the next trick. The play continues until all thirteen tricks are played. The declarer or a defender may "claim" the rest of the tricks by showing his hand and stating how he will take them. In social play, one player typically gathers the tricks for each side. In competition, each player retains the card played from his hand to each trick and lays it on the table turned in the direction of the side that won the trick, thus keeping the hands separate to return them to the board at the end of play. If upon reviewing dummy after the opening lead, declarer assesses that he does not have enough tricks immediately available to make his contract, he can try to develop additional tricks through a variety of methods. These include: losing tricks to the defenders' high cards in order to "promote" the remaining cards of that suit in his hand. running out long suits after the defenders' cards in that suit are exhausted, to force defenders to discard useful cards. the "finesse", in which a low card is led toward a high card in the hope of trapping a high card held by the defender who must play in between. in trump contracts, the declarer may attempt to cover losers in his hand by trumping them in dummy, while also taking care to draw out the defenders' trumps if necessary. cutting communications between the two defenders, for instance by allowing them to win early tricks in a suit until they are unable to use the suit as an entry. more advanced techniques include the "squeeze play" in which a defender is forced to choose which card to discard before declarer has to make his own discard choice.