The Rule of 7 is an interesting and little known rule. Why am I writing about a rule that no-one has heard of? Because someone requested that I write about it.
I had to do some research because, I have to be honest, I’d never heard of it. It seems there may be a good reason for that: yes, it exists but hardly anyone uses it.
It’s quite a simple rule and easy to learn and implement. Probably no-one uses it because there are other ways of achieving the same outcome.
What is the Rule of 7?
It is used in one situation only – when the contract is 3NT.
It is used by Declarer after the opposing partnership have made their lead. Do you want to win the trick, assuming that you can, or would it be better to lose the trick intentionally? If it is better to lose (duck or hold up) once, how many times should declarer do so, before playing a winning card?
The Rule of 7 is one of way of deciding this. It’s simple. Declarer adds up the number of cards in the suit held in both their own hand and Dummy’s hand and deducts the total from 7. The answer is the number of times that they should deliberately lose the trick.
The rule is usually used if you hold the Ace as your only stopper in the suit, although it would work if you hold the King and the opposition play the Ace in the first round.
It seems this rule 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’m not sure if two people developing the same rule shows that there was a need for it, or whether it shows that they were finding a way of putting into words a concept that many players use without realising.
Do Others Need To Know If I’m Using It?
The short answer is “yes”.
If you decide to use the rule when you are playing, make sure that your partner is aware of it and also uses it. If you are playing in a club or tournament, then you should speak to the director to find out if it is alertable. If you are asked to fill in a convention card, then include the fact that you will be using the Rule of 7.
This is a fairly simple rule to learn and one that is probably most helpful for beginning and improving players.