This section gives some example hands and provides suggestions for what to do in each case.
Hand 1 - Easy
- ♣: 4 J A
- ♦: 9
- ♠: 3 7 8 10 J Q
- ♥: 2 3 6
Passing: Certainly pass the 9♦. You have a good chance to shortsuit yourself of diamonds here. It may be tempting to pass the hearts, but remember that low hearts (2-6) are actually among the least dangerous cards, because they are very unlikely to win a trick. We suggest passing the two lower clubs as well, so you can possibly rid yourself of that suit too.
Because you have the Queen protected by five low spades, it can be safer to keep it than pass it since you are in control of when it comes out. Even if you are passed the King or Ace of spades, or a dangerous heart, you should be in good position not to win a lot of hearts.
Game Strategy: Try to exhaust either your clubs or diamonds (if they are passed to you). You can do this by playing the A♣ on the first trick, then leading with a high club or diamond. You should be able to then dump the Queen off quickly.
Hand 2 - Garden-variety
- ♣: 5 8 K
- ♦: 7 J K
- ♠: 4 7 8 A
- ♥: 7 Q A
Passing: Because you don't have a really short suit and have a lot of high cards, this is not an optimal hand. You don't have many low hearts or spades, which makes both the Ace of Spades and the high hearts dangerous. You have two options: passing all three clubs or diamonds to shortsuit yourself and hoping to dump of the Queen and some hearts whenever that suit is played, or get rid of the two aces and the queen of hearts and hope you don't get passed similar cards right back. Either way, expect to take a few points, but with a little luck you'll avoid the Queen.
Game Strategy: Play high early in the round to exhaust your high diamonds and clubs. Try not to break hearts early, otherwise someone may play a low heart and you'll end up taking it with your higher hearts. Focus on not taking the queen of spades - even if you have to take a few hearts.
Hand 3 - Worst-case Scenario
- ♣: 10 J Q
- ♦: 5 9 Q A
- ♠: J K
- ♥: 6 9 K A
Passing: Wow! Talk about a bad break. Unfortunately, sooner or later you will end up with a hand like this, so you need to know how to deal with it. In these situations you need to buckle down, accept the fact that you'll run up a lot of points, and work on damage control.
You have high cards, but they're spread out across suits, so shooting the moon looks highly improbable here. Most concerning is the lack of spades. If you ditch the K♠ and get passed the Queen, you'll be forced to play it the second time spades are led; if you keep the K♠, you also risk winning a trick where spades are led; but there's a chance the Queen won't come out on that particular trick. Both methods are iffy, although it might be slightly more promising to keep the King, which allows you to dedicate all three cards to shortsuiting.
The hearts are also dangerous, but are probably less likely to win the Queen, so it might be better not to touch them. Dumping all three clubs is tempting - if you aren't passed any clubs back, you can shed the King once the first trick starts with the 2♣. This seems to be the most promising. You can also pass three diamonds, although that doesn't really address your liability, the K♠, and could result in you being forced to take the Queen if one of the other players starts flushing it out.
Game Strategy: Work on avoiding the Queen foremost, even if that means taking a few hearts in the process. If you are handed the Queen, work on winning all the early tricks to exhaust your high cards, then drop back and play a lower card once you've short-suited yourself, and try to get someone else to lead for the remainder of the tricks. If you don't get the Queen, try to get rid of the K♠ safely (primarily by short-suiting clubs), after which you should be a little more secure.