ACBL11 – Defense: Rule of 11 Ward Trumbull

Aug 22, 2002

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This rule usually applies when the contract is NOTRUMP, and partner has made a Fourth-Longest-And-Strongest lead. Note that against notrump contracts there are four typical possible types of leads:

Top of a sequence - king from K Q J x, or

queen from Q J 10 x, or

jack from J 10 9 x

Interior sequence - queen from A Q J x x, or

jack from K J 10 x, or

ten from Q 10 9 x x

Top of nothing - eight from 8 3 (hoping to hit partner’s suit)

Fourth longest - seven from K J 8 7, or

two from A J 6 2

Before you can apply the Rule of Eleven, you must determine that partner’s lead is not one of the other three types of leads.

When partner leads the fourth highest card in a suit, the implication is that he/she has exactly three cards higher than the one that was lead. By looking at the cards in dummy and your own hand, you can sometimes visualize which cards partner holds. Suppose partner leads the 6 of clubs against a notrump contract. This is what you see in clubs:

Q 7 3

6 A 10 8 (your hand)

?

You can see all the clubs higher than the six except for the K, J and 9. Those must be the three cards that partner holds....if the six was the fourth-best. You can visualize the complete layout as:

Q 7 3

K J 9 6 x A 10 8

x x

ACBL11 – Defense: Rule of 11 Aug 22, 2002

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You’re not quite sure about those low spot cards, but the rest of the cards pop into view. If declarer plays low from dummy, you can confidently play the club 8 and win the trick.

The news that declarer has no higher card than partner’s club 6 can be obtained by applying what is referred to as The Rule of Eleven. Which is:

SUBTRACT THE NUMBER ON THE CARD PARTNER LEAD FROM

11, AND THE RESULT IS THE NUMBER OF CARDS IN THE OTHER

THREE HANDS THAT ARE HIGHER THAN THE ONE LEAD.

When partner leads the club 6, you subtract six from 11, which indicates there are five cards in the other three hands higher than the club 6. Since you can see two higher cards in dummy and have three higher cards in your own hand, there’s none left for the declarer. Now in the example change your club 8 to the club 5.

Q 7 3

6 A 10 5

?

Subtracting 6 from 11 again indicates there are 5 outstanding higher cards, but now you can only see four of them: the Q, 7, A and 10. That leaves exactly one card higher for the declarer. You don’t know which card -- it could be the club K, J, 9 or 8. You do know that it can only be one of these cards. Suppose you play the club 10 on the first trick, and declarer wins with the club jack. You now know that declarer has no higher cards left. When you next are on lead, you can play your club ace and then lead your club 5 to partner’s king.

ACBL11 – Defense: Rule of 11 Aug 22, 2002

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Another example:

J 8 3

4 K 9 5

?

Subtracting 4 from 11 gives a total of seven cards higher in the other three hands. Dummy has two and you have three. That leaves two for declarer. This might be the complete layout:

J 8 3

Q 10 6 4 K 9 5

A 7 2

You don’t know which cards declarer holds, but you do know that he/she has two cards higher than the 4. Since it’s a good guideline to keep an honor higher than dummy’s honor, the proper play would be the club 9. Perhaps the 9 might hold the trick or force out declarer’s queen or Ace.

Sometimes the Rule of Eleven lets you know exactly what to do. Consider this layout where partner leads the club 7 against a notrump contract:

K 6 3

7 A J 9 5

?

If a low club is played from dummy, play the 5 and let partner’s 7 win the trick. Subtracting 7 from 11 leaves four cards higher than the 7, and you can see all four higher cards. The complete layout must be:

K 6 3

Q 10 8 7 A J 9 5

4 2

If you automatically played the jack or 9 on the first round, you would win the trick, but now you couldn’t lead the suit without giving a trick to dummy’s king. When partner’s 7 wins the trick, partner can lead another club and trap dummy’s king.