Third Hand Play

If third hand is not careful when playing to a trick she can often give away a trick or more to the Declarer.  We’ve all been taught “Third Hand High” but there are important exceptions.

Situation:  Dummy Only Has Small Cards

  • When dummy has small cards in the suit third hand plays __________.
    • With equal high cards, play the ________ of equals.  Example:  with JT73 play the ________ .
  • Exception:  Defending against NT, holding AQx play the _________  to force Declarer to spend his _____ early.

Returning Partner’s Suit

  • With 2 cards remaining, return the __________ .
  • With 3 or more cards remaining return the original ________ __________ .
    • Exception:  If your remaining cards are a sequence, return the _________ card.

Situation:  Dummy Has an Honor and Plays Low

Condition 1: You Have a Higher Honor

  • If your second highest card is the 9 or higher, then play __________ high.
  • If your second highest card is lower than the 9, play ___________ .

Condition 2: You have a Lower Honor

  • Usually you want to play third hand _________ .

Condition 3: You Don’t Have An Honor

  • If you can’t beat the dummy’s card, give ___________ .


  • If you have a __________ honor and your partner leads an honor sequence then you should usually play the honor unless it will cost a trick.
    • Example:  Lead is the Q and you have Kx, usually you should play the __________  unless the ________ is in Dummy.

Preserving Communications

  • Sometimes you duck the first trick even with AKxxx if you think your partner has fewer than _______ cards in your suit, especially if you have no outside entry.

Rule of Eleven

  • If your partner leads 4th best subtract the index of that card from 11.  That tells you how many cards higher than partner’s lead are in the other __________ hands.
    • Example:  Lead is 6, you hold QJ9, 7 is in the Dummy.  You play the J and Declarer wins the K.  Can Declarer have any remaining cards higher than the 6?

When Not To Play High

  • If your partner can’t have an honor for you to protect you don’t need to play third hand _______ .
    • Example:  You hold KTxx and your partner leads the 9.  Your partner has no honor to protect, so don’t play high.
  • Against a suit contract if you have KJx and partner leads low play the _________ to discover who has the Queen.  This assumes that your partner won’t underfed an Ace.