Admit it: you love playing 3NT contracts. You only need to make nine tricks, and your opponents can’t ruff any of them. In the course of an evening’s competition, you will possibly play at 3NT more than once.

That’s why the new book, Larry Teaches NoTrump: Declarer Play at NoTrump, by the popular teacher and writer Larry Cohen ($14.99,, is such a treat. What’s more, Larry discusses NoTrump contracts across the board, not only at the three level.

He establishes four rules of thumb for NoTrump players:

1) How many sure tricks do I have?

2) How can I get more tricks?

3) What is my stopper situation (what will happen if I lose the lead)?

4) What is my plan?

Rarely can a player take all the tricks contracted for immediately. It’s necessary to build up more winners through finesses or knocking out an opponent’s high card to set up a suit. How many sure tricks are there in this partnership in 3NT when the ♦Q is led:

♠ Q 8 7 6
♥ J 10 7
♦ 4 2
♣ A K J 7

♠ J 5 4
♥ A K 2
♦ K 3
♣ Q 8 6 5 3

Answer: eight (five clubs, two hearts and the ♦K is set up by the lead. And where is the ninth trick? Novices might run off the club tricks only to discover there’s no way to reach the board. Better to win three clubs with the ace-king-jack and then take a heart finesse.

How many sure tricks do you have here, when the ♠J is led to the king and a spade returned to the ace? And what’s your strategy?

♠ A 3
♥ Q J
♦ A Q J 10 8
♣ A K 3 2

♠ Q 2
♥ A K
♦ 9 7 6 4
♣ J 8 7 6 5

You have six sure tricks: one spade, two hearts, two clubs and one diamond. Should you take the diamond finesse? Not immediately. Cash the ace-king of clubs. If the queen falls singleton or doubleton, you’ll have five club tricks and won’t need the diamond finesse! With a bad club split, fall back on the diamond finesse.

This is called “combining your chances.”

Sometimes you can’t immediately tell how many tricks you’ll get from a suit. Consider this, with four diamonds needed to make a contract:

♠ A K 10 4

♠ Q 7 6 2

Cash the ace, then the queen. If West has four diamonds, finesse the 10. If East has four, you’ll never have a chance.

The Bridge Club of Martha’s Vineyard will host an American Bridge Association tournament at Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School on June 16-18. All players are welcome. The schedule follows:

Friday, June 16: Open pairs game at 7 p.m.

Saturday, June 17: Single-session open pairs game at 9:30 a.m. I’ll be teaching a class on takeout doubles during the lunch break. Single-session open pairs benefit game at 2:30 p.m. There will be a reception from 7:30 p.m. to 9:30.p.m. at Martha’s Vineyard Resort, 117 New York Avenue, Oak Bluffs.

Sunday, June 18: Stratified Swiss Teams all-day play-through starting at 9:30 a.m.

The playing fee will be $8 per person per session and $16 per person for the Sunday event. There will be a complimentary continental breakfast served daily, lunch for purchase on Saturday and a complimentary lunch on Sunday.