Here are several examples of how to improve your declarer play by using the Strip and End Play technique.
What most players forget is this…
You must strip either your hand or an opponent’s hand before you use the end play card.
Your contract is 4and the lead is theK
You certainly have enough points, right? But unfortunately lots of points don’t always guarantee a game. You have 9 tricks for certain, and if the A is on your right you will take ten tricks, and so will everyone else. That’s called an average.
- — But what if the ace is in the West hand?
You must lose a spade at some point in the hand, but don’t duck the opening lead! Take the ace and save the jack for an end play. You will play it only after you are ready for West to again be on lead.
Draw trumps and play your three diamond winners next, stripping your hand of diamonds. After you have played the last diamond, it’s time to end play West. Play that jack of spades.
West’s lead of the K was surely from the king-queen so he is forced to capture your jack, putting him on lead. That’s the end play. Since you have stripped the diamonds from your hand he cannot return that suit without giving you a ruff and sluff, and if he returns a club you will score your king. Either way you will score that necessary 10th trick. The combination of stripping followed by the end play is called a Strip and End Play.
Take note that the order you do this is important. You must strip the hand before you use the end play card. If you don’t, then your opponent is not forced to return a favorable lead.
Your brilliant play may lead to just an average when East has the A, but at least you can impress your partner with your outstanding card play. Don’t forget to casually remark, “Yes, I had to end play West to insure the contract, partner.”
Your contract is 4and the lead is the K
Does this look familiar? Yep, it’s almost the exact same hand as above, but now there is an extra spade in both hands.
Again, you have only 9 tricks. And once more, if East has the A you will get an average result.
This is not quite the same as before because you cannot take the first trick. Although it looks almost the same, you would not be able to guarantee an end play of West with the jack because East, his partner, may have the ten of spades. If so, he will be able to take the third spade and lead a club through your king.
Hold up one round on the opening lead. As an aside, this play is known as the Bath Coup, a play that harks back to the days of the game of Whist. If West continues the suit you will gain two spade tricks and you won’t care where the K is located.
Best defense by West is to shift to either a trump or a diamond at trick two.
Now you can play as you did with the first hand. Take care of trumps and strip the diamonds before you play the ace and then the jack of spades. West is end played and must either lead a spade or diamond for a ruff and sluff, or must lead a club to your king. Either way you will make ten tricks.
Your contract is 6 and the lead is the 9
This hand would be much easier if West had led a heart or a club, but perhaps you can end play West later.
The 9 looks like a doubleton, right?
When an opponent doesn’t lead a suit you would prefer, often you can use a strip and end play. An end play is where you force an opponent to lead a suit favorable for you. To accomplish this you will need to strip away the other suits first. (Sometimes you strip suits from your hand and sometimes from the opponent’s hand.)
Take the diamond lead, draw trumps in three rounds and play the other two top diamonds.
This is a case where you will strip both spades and diamonds from the West hand. Remember, you must strip the hand before you use the end play card.
After you have drawn trump and stripped West of his diamonds, lead the ten of hearts from dummy and let West win the trick. If West has to win with the king you have the rest of the tricks. If East is able to win with theJ, he has no more spades or diamonds and must either lead a heart or a club into your hand, letting you make six spades. Nicely done!
Your contract is 6and the lead is the K
This is an easy contract if East has one or both club honors, right? Many players will take the opening spade lead and after drawing trumps try a club finesse to the ten. If the finesse loses to the jack, they will try it again, hoping for a split in honors and that the king is in East’s hand. There would be no discussion here if that works, so let’s assume that West has both club honors.
How do you play the hand?
Stripping your own hand and the dummy is essential before you try the club finesse. After drawing trumps you must be sure to trump the small spades that are in your hand, and you must also strip the diamonds.
Trump spades in the dummy and cash the top diamonds. Be sure to trump the last diamond. Only then can you afford the club finesse. Play either queen or the ten, it doesn’t matter — You don’t care which club honor wins the trick as it is the only trick the opponents will get. You just had to be sure to strip the hand so West does not have an exit card. If you have removed spades and diamonds from your hand, then West will either have to lead a club for you or will have to give you a ruff and sluff. Either way you make your contract.
You played that very well!
Your contract is 6 and the lead is the J
You can’t really see a problem until you play a high honor in the trump suit, and then you find that West has three spades – The queen, jack and ten. No way around losing a trump trick.
If you could see all of the card this would be an easy hand, because then you would know which way to take the heart finesse. Most opponents won’t let you look at their hands, though, so you have to play the hand so you can make six regardless of who has that queen!
You are going to end play West with a trump after you take the top two trumps and strip the hand.
Draw two rounds of trumps and cash the A and ruff the small diamonds. You need to clear both your hand and the dummy of diamonds and clubs before you give the lead to West with a trump. He must then either give you a free heart finesse or a ruff and sluff. These are getting easy, eh?
It’s worth a comment here – Any time you correctly end play an opponent by stripping the other suits, you will gain a trick either by a ruff and sluff or a safe finesse.