Understanding concept of ‘ruff and discard’

  • So much more than a complicated card game: bidding is the language of bridge and by far the greatest contributor to success at the game (Photograph courtesy of chalfontsu3a.org.uk)

    So much more than a complicated card game: bidding is the language of bridge and by far the greatest contributor to success at the game (Photograph courtesy of chalfontsu3a.org.uk)


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Friday 26 June

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1, Gail Greenberg-Jeff Hand

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It just can’t be July already! Goodness, heat, humidity and another birthday — almost overshadows the queueing, hand-washing, mask-wearing grind.

Although I did find a Chelsea mask at a store that has masks for most Premier League teams, so that was a bonus.

Enough silliness, let’s get you thinking. Before that, I need you to fully understand the concept of the “ruff and discard”. This occurs when a defender leads a suit against your trump contract and you have none of that suit in either dummy or your hand — this allows you to discard a loser from one hand and trump in the other and that is usually a good thing for you and not for the defence!

So, avoid giving ruff and discards — there may be one hand in a hundred where it is the play to make, so simply avoid the play.

Understanding ruff and discards, however, helps you defend better and play the hand better and that takes me to this week’s hand which came up in a BBO tournament I played today.

Dealer East, Both Vulnerable

After three passes, I opened the South hand one Heart and partner made a limit raise to three Hearts — I quite liked my hand despite the three small Clubs so I bid four Hearts, knowing it could be dicey.

Things started well when West led the Diamond Queen — East won the Ace and exited passively with a Diamond which was the best defence.

I quite liked my chances — either a 3-3 Spade break or the Club Ace with West would allow the contact to make — about a 65 per cent chance for you numbers people.

I won the Diamond King, drew Trumps in two rounds and played on Spades. I was happy to see East follow to the third Spade even though West showed out as my contract was now guaranteed, if I engaged my brain!

Now the last Spade is played and when East played the nine it was easy to not ruff but discard a Club!

This was now the position:

East now has a “Hobson’s Choice” (or some use “Morton’s Fork”) — two options, both of them losing ones.

He could either cash the Club Ace and lead another, letting my King win, or he could give me the dreaded “ruff and discard” by leading a Diamond, which would allow me to throw another Club from my hand and ruff in dummy — either way the defence gets only one more trick and the contract is made.

So make sure you understand the ruff and discard — never provide it in defence and try and use it in your declarer play.

And happy July 4 to all our American cousins who will be celebrating in a very different way this year but that doesn’t change the significance of this date.

Postscript. Just as I had finished the column, I received the really sad news that Ian Harvey, at one time a real fixture at the club, has passed away.

Ian was the chief radiologist at KEMH and a really talented player who had two successful partnerships with David Pereira and Alan Douglas. He and Alan represented Bermuda on many occasions.

Ian served as president of the Bridge Club and directed many games, particularly the weekly beginner sessions.

I played often with Ian who was quiet and unassuming and had a droll sense of humour, but was an excellent player with a great feel for good bidding.

Our thoughts go out to his wife, Penny, and the rest of his family.

Ian and Penny have been in Scotland for the past ten years and it seems Ian had been ill for some time.

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Published Jul 4, 2020 at 8:00 am (Updated Jul 4, 2020 at 9:09 am)

Understanding concept of ‘ruff and discard’

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