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The “Rule of Thirteen”

Every bridge hand contains four suits, whose lengths add up to thirteen. Every suit is divided round the table in the same manner. The most common such pattern is 4432 - over twice as common as the second most likely pattern - 5332. Becoming more and more acquainted with these patterns will help you to count the hands when you are playing/defending.


Next time you're waiting at traffic lights think of three small numbers, then quickly work out the fourth number to make the total thirteen - this will be a bridge pattern. Thus 2 - 2 - 4 -? (5). Or 4 -1- 6 -? (2).

West Deals
Both Vul
Q 8 6
9 7 4
Q J 4
K J 7 3
9 7 3
A K Q 8 2
A 10 8 5
10
N
W   E
S
10 5
10 6 5
9 6 2
Q 8 6 5 2
 
A K J 4 2
J 3
K 7 3
A 9 4
West North East South
1  Pass Pass 1 ♠
2  2 ♠ Pass 4 ♠
Pass Pass Pass

 

South's 4 ♠ contract had three top losers - two s and  A. Could he avoid a ♣ loser? West led  AKQ, declarer trumping the third round. He crossed to ♠ Q and returned to ♠ AK, East discarding ♣ 2 on the third round. He next led  K which West won with  A and led  8; after trumping with his last trump, he cashed  QJ, all following, then paused to reflect.

West was marked with five s and four s for his bidding (and no more given that East had followed to three rounds of both suits), and had followed to three ♠s. His hand pattern was marked as 5-4-3-1 (or 3-5-4-1 in suit order). He had just one ♣. Declarer cashed ♣ K from dummy and when West followed with ♣ 10, next led ♣ 3 to ♣ 9. West discarded and ♣ A took the last trick, his tenth.

THE RULE OF THIRTEEN: Bridge is based on four small numbers that add up to thirteen - the pattern of an individual hand; the pattern of a single suit around the table. The more acquainted you become with the common patterns, the easier the game will become.

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