Source: ACBL I often hear stories about everybody’s “Aunt Lucy” who plays bridge and knows every card before the play begins. Of course, nobody – Aunt Lucy included – knows every card. But I can show you how to easily know most of declarer’s 13 cards before the opening lead is made, and maybe all 13 of 13 very early in the hand – before you play. Example: You hold: Spade SuitQxx Heart Suit10xxx Diamond SuitAxxx club suitKx The bidding:
West (Partner) North East (You) South
 1Diamond Suit
 Pass  1Heart Suit  Pass  1NT
All Pass
Now’s the time to ask yourself what you know. Those asleep, of course, know nothing. But you, using your mental blackboard, write out the following: “Declarer probably has no singletons or voids since he rebid notrump.” How many cards does declarer hold? Thirteen? Very good! What are they? You don’t know? I know most of them! Let’s count his hand, remembering he has no singletons or voids. How many spades does he have, zero to one? No. Does he have two? Yes, for sure! Does he have three? Maybe. Does he have four? No, he should have bid them if he’s a good partner. How many hearts, zero to one? No. Does he have two? Yes. Three? Maybe. Four? No, he would have raised partner. How many diamonds? One to three? No! He has at least four – he must have a four card suit somewhere, and he opened the bidding with 1Diamond Suit. We’ve assumed he can’t have four hearts or four spades (see above). So can he have five diamonds? Maybe. Six? No, he would have rebid 2Diamond Suit with six, or seven. How many clubs? Zero to one? No. Two? Maybe (3-3-5-2). Does he have three? Maybe. Four? Maybe. Five? No, he probably would have rebid 2club suit if he were 2-2-4-5 (or opened the bidding 1club suit). What we now know for sure about Declarer’s Hand Pattern? Before the first card is led, we can already “see” 10 of declarer’s 13 cards! The “truths.” Now, if you pay attention to the opening lead from your partner, and, thinking in both suit patterns and hand patterns you should be able to locate one, two or three more. Let’s say your partner leads the Spade Suit2 (playing fourth-best opening leads). You look at the dummy which has, 3-4-3-3 distribution. Now look at your hand pattern (above) which is 3-4-4-2. If partner has four spades, declarer has three! Spades are 4-3-3-3. Suddenly you know 11 of his 13 cards before the first card is called from the dummy. Now look at the club suit! Three in dummy and you have only two. Partner doesn’t have five or he would have led one. The missing clubs are 4-4. Declarer is 3-2-4-4! You know all 13! Maybe Aunt Lucy was truly an expert. Maybe she learned to count in hand patterns!