The Rule Of 7

Bridge players seem to love rules with numbers.  The Rule of 7 is one of the least know rules, yet it is easy to learn and easy to apply.  You might wonder why I’m writing a whole post about a rule that almost no-one has heard of?  Someone asked me about the Rule, so I thought I’d do a little research for you.

The truth is that I’d never heard of the Rule of 7 and I don’t think I’m alone.  It’s a simple rule, but it seems that it is rarely used.

The Rule of 7

It is only used when the contract is 3NT.  Declarer uses the rule after the opposing partnership have lead.  It is used to decide whether or not declarer should win the trick if they can, or whether it would be more beneficial to duck (or hold up).  If it’s beneficial to duck the trick once, would it be beneficial to duck it again?  If so, how many times should declarer duck before playing their winning card?

This is where you use The Rule of 7.  It is a simple way of working out how many times to duck tricks, before playing a winning card. It’s easy to use. Declarer simply adds up the number of cards they hold in the suit to the number of cards in the suit held in Dummy’s hand and deducts the total from 7. The answer is the number of times to duck the trick.

Usually you would use the rule if the Ace is the only stopper that you hold in the suit although it would work if you hold the King and the opposition play the Ace in the first round.

Although this rule is rarely used, it seems it was developed independently by two different bridge players. Robert Berthe from France, who is also the author of several books on bridge, and Gerald Fox from California. I’ll leave you to decide whether two people developing the same rule meant that there was a need for it, or whether was simply a way of putting into words a concept that many players use without realising.

If you read the comments below you will see that I previously suggested you should let partner know you are using it or that it might be alertable.  Seems I was almost certainly wrong!  Apologies guys.

Also, if you read the comments below, Leigh Harding from No Fear Bridge has provided an explanation of why the rule works.

You can join No Fear Bridge for your two week, absolutely no obligation, trial HERE (for Acol players) or HERE (for American Standard players).  It’s fun, friendly and you will quickly learn to improve your game.