Achieving a NT Contract

1. Count the guaranteed tricks 

When you see dummy count your guaranteed tricks. From this position you can assess where extra tricks are needed to make the contract..

2. Which is the strongest suit?

Your strongest suit should be developed first by forcing or finessing control. Running a long suit squeezes the opposition.

3. Which is the weakest suit?

You weakest suit is the one to avoid. If the suit is played by your opponents keep the control card for as long as possible to run out the suit in one of the opposing hands. Avoid giving back the lead to the controller of your weak suit. Discard cards which return the lead to strong opposition suits. 

4. Where are the opportunities?

These are the suits where a bit of work will give you tricks. Take or force your losers in this suit and the rest are yours.

Balance the count in suits with 7 or 8 cards and missing honours by taking a loser first. When you get back control play your winners and hope the rest drop. 

If the guaranteed tricks are less than required ask where are the extra tricks coming from?

Decide early where extra tricks can be made. 

5. Take your losers early

Don't be afraid to take your losers early. Once they are gone the rest are yours

6. Establish your winning cards

By continually leading from your long suit you will force out the control cards in that suit. After that the remaining cards are winners. 

By use of the finesse you can remove or force the play of a blocking card.

Playing and losing high honours promotes lower honours. Keep your eye on 10s and 9s as they are often winners in NTs. 

7. Ensure a way of returning to unblocked suits

When you are unblocking suits, make sure you have a way of returning to the unblocked suit. Keep communication open with dummy.

8. Lead into your honours

Always try to lead towards your honours. If you have the K in your hand and Q in dummy, lead towards the Q. If the player to your left has the Ace it will fall so you make both of your honours. 

Lead into a holding of KJ and play the J. It often forces the Ace. 

The lead shows where high cards are in that suit to trap them. 

The lead in NT shows length and probably some strength. Use this knowledge if your control cards in the lead suit are in dummy.