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Claim of variable number of tricks

Playing in 4-hearts, and I try to claim as follows:
"Draw 5 rounds of hearts, AK diamonds, then AKQx clubs, making 10, 11 if the clubs break."
Is that a valid claim? Does 68A require me to only claim a pre-determined number of tricks?


  • In my view that's a perfectly valid claim, especially so in face-to-face bridge.

    Law 68A: "Any statement by declarer or a defender to the effect that a side will win a specific number of tricks is a claim of those tricks. A player also claims when he suggests that play be curtailed, or when he shows his cards (unless he demonstrably did not intend to claim - for example, if declarer faces his cards after an opening lead out of turn Law 54, not this Law, will apply)."

    Since the cards would be upturned in face-to-face bridge, this must therefore constitute a claim.

    In online bridge, it's not as clear cut but I would suggest that the phrase "suggests that play be curtailed" is again sufficient to constitute a valid claim.

  • F2F bridge frequently has conditional claims, and Law 68 as quoted above makes them legal - you are suggesting that play be curtailed. One might also argue that "10 or 11 depending on how the clubs break" is specific. I see them frequently at the table ("10 or 11 depending on the spade finesse", "an overtrick if you are squeezed in the reds" and so on)

    They are harder playing on BBO (and on RealBridge) because the Claim button requires a fixed number of tricks - I think that's why claims seem to be rarer on line than at the table. You can say "is the heart finesse right?" to the table, followed by a claim, but (i) that can take longer than playing another trick or two, and (ii) if you don't know your opponents well, they might not want to answer, not knowing for certain that this is part of a claim, and you won't change your line depending on the answer

  • Another reason claims are rarer online is that if the opponents are playing quickly, it's often faster to demonstrate your line of play than it would be to type it out. "5 trump, AK!d, AKQx!c" took me 6 seconds to type just now (and I was trying to type it as quickly as possible, and am much faster at this sort of explanation than most of my opponents). You can't do 10 tricks in 6 seconds, but you can quite possibly do 2 or 3 tricks in 6 seconds in cases where there's nothing to think about for anyone (and can claim if the opponents stop to think).

    As a consequence, unless I see the entire line very early in the hand (and have enough information to know an exact number of tricks), making claiming faster than playing it out, I typically don't claim online on anything more complex than "I have enough top tricks to make the contract and it hardly matters what order I cash them in".

    On the flip side of that, when the opponents claim without stating a line of play, it often takes me something like 8-10 seconds to figure out what line declarer is claiming on, and even longer to work out whether there's a line that declarer could have thought is winning but actually loses a trick. So when the number of tricks remaining is getting low, the combined time to make the claim and verify the claim often loses all the time that it would save.

  • Claims are much easier to explain on RealBridge where it can be done verbally rather than having to type it. They also have a useful feature that a defensive claim has to be agreed by the other defender in line with L68B2.

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