Discovery is the process of playing the cards as declarer to discover important information regarding the holdings of the two opponents. This information provides the declarer with knowledge needed to fulfill the contract. This element of the game of bridge has been used ever since its inception, and, subconsciously, every bridge player uses the feature of discovery with almost every hand.

In his book, The Expert Game, Mr. Terence Reese, a theorist and analyzer of card combinations, presents the reader with the following example of discovery.

Example 1

10842
K983
AQ43
Q
9
immaterial
AQJ975
652
AK74

West

 

North

 

East

 

South

Pass

 

Pass

 

Pass

 

1

Pass

 

4

 

Pass

 

6

Pass

 

Pass

 

Pass

 

 

Declarer:

South

Contract:

6 Spades

Lead:

9

Analysis

South examines the dummy and discovers only 9 certain playing tricks, which are 5 Spades, 1 Diamond, and 3 Clubs. South determines that at least two finesses have to work, in order to fulfill the contract.

Strategy 1: At the second trick, South could play to the Ace of Spades, hoping that a singleton King of Spades will fall.

Strategy 2: At the second trick, South could play the 8 of Spades for a deep finesse of East.

Mr. Terence Reese suggested a better method. At Trick Two, South, in dummy, should play the King of Hearts. In the case that East covers with the Ace of Hearts, South will ruff, and then finesses the Queen of Diamonds. East, however, wins with the King of Diamonds and returns the 6 of Spades.

With this play of Discovery, South has discovered that East holds both the Ace of Hearts and the King of Diamonds. With this knowledge, South must assume that West holds the King of Spades. Otherwise, East, holding the King of Spades, the Ace of Hearts and the King of Diamonds, would most assuredly have opened the auction in Third Seat.

Therefore, when East leads the 6 of Spades, South must play for the drop of the King of Spades by playing the Ace of Spades. This maneuver, according to Mr. Terence Reese, is the best line of play to discover vital information, in order to make the proper decision, to deduce the correct line of play, and to base both on the information gained through the principle of Discovery.

Example 2

Q85
84
872
KQ843
3
10
AK3
K96
KQJ105
A6

West

 

North

 

East

 

South

Pass

 

Pass

 

Pass

 

2 NT

Pass

 

3 NT

 

Pass

 

Pass

Pass

 

 

 

 

 

 

In this example, the principle of Discovery is concerned with discovering or determining a suit division.

South wins the First Trick with the King of Hearts. South now has to make a decision. Does the Diamond play have a better chance than the Club play. The Diamond play will be successful if the Heart split is 4-4, and the Club play will be successful if the Club split is 3-3. According to the percentage play, the Club split of 3-3 is more probable, and this percentage indicates that the Heart split is 5-3 is more likely.

South can use the principle of Discovery to determine the suit division. First, South leads the 6 of Clubs to the King of Clubs in dummy. On the third trick, South leads a low Club to his Ace of Clubs. The object is to observe closely the Clubs played by the opponents. Whatever the opponents discard, each opponent will attempt to signal his partner his Club Count, which shows length, by playing low from a 3-card Club holding, or high from a 2-card or 4-card Club holding.

In the case that South discovers, through the signaling by the opponents, that the Club suit will not be successful and the split is unfavorable, then South should attack the Diamond suit, hoping that the Heart split is 4-4, and not 5-3. In the case that South discovers, through the signaling by the opponents, that the Club suit is split evenly 3-3, then South fulfills the contract with 5 Clubs, 1 Heart, and 3 Spades. In any case, South has given himself that extra piece of information needed to make the correct decision.

 

 

If you wish to include this feature, or any other feature, of the game of bridge in your partnership agreement, then please make certain that the concept is understood by both partners. Be aware whether or not the feature is alertable or not and whether an announcement should or must be made. Check with the governing body and/or the bridge district and/or the bridge unit prior to the game to establish the guidelines applied. Please include the particular feature on your convention card in order that your opponents are also aware of this feature during the bidding process, since this information must be made known to them according to the Laws of Duplicate Contract Bridge. We do not always include the procedure regarding Alerts and/or Announcements, since these regulations are changed and revised during time by the governing body. It is our intention only to present the information as concisely and as accurately as possible.

 


     
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