Tempo (bridge)

Tempo (bridge)

In the card game of bridge, tempo refers to the advantage of being on lead, thus having the initiative of developing tricks for one's side.

According to the rules of the game, the right to select the first card to play (the opening lead) belongs to the defenders; afterwards, the right to lead belongs to the hand who has won the previous trick. Being on lead generally presents an advantage, as it presents an opportunity to choose a suit and card which will develop a trick for the leader's side. However, in endplay situations being on lead certainly does not present an advantage—quite the opposite.

The tempo can be used for many purposes:

  • Setting up tricks – for example, against notrump contracts, defenders will often lead the longest and strongest suit, to set up the tricks in that suit. Against trump contracts, lead of a short suit can set up a subsequent ruff before the declarer can draw trumps.
  • Pitching losers – for example, having x opposite AKQx, the declarer may discard cards from another suit on the honors, holding xxx opposite xxx if on lead; if the opponents were on lead, they can cash the tricks in the declarer's weak suit.
  • Taking tricks – the converse of pitching losers. Having the lead lets us take our tricks before the other side gets to pitch in the suit(s).
  • Trump promotion or coup en passant – if the other side had the lead, they could simply draw trumps; however, with our side on lead, an extra trump trick can be produced.
  • Killing entries – opponents can be forced to use entries in the wrong order.

Read more about Tempo (bridge):  Examples

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