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Drawing trumps with no plan can be fatal for declarers

Too often declarers are so scared of the defence ruffing a suit, that they typically draw trumps as the first thing they do before even planning the play of the hand – and quite often that is fatal. Today’s hand (see Figure 1) takes that a bit further, where a ruff was almost encouraged by declarer as it made the hand much easier to handle.

Figure 1

East opened a weak two hearts and after South bid two spades, West bid four hearts – when this came around to South he decided to take a shot and bid four spades, which became the final contract.

West led a third-highest five of hearts at both tables in a team game. The first declarer played low from the dummy and trumped East’s nine.

He eventually decided to hope that trumps were two-two or that one defender held Kx or Kxx in clubs. After ruffing the first trick in hand, declarer cashed the Ace of clubs and ruffed a club low. Next he returned to hand with a heart ruff to ruff the nine of clubs in dummy with the King of trumps.

Declarer returned to hand with a heart ruff to play the Ace and another trump. When, unluckily, East had two trump winners, declarer was down one as he also had to lose a trick in each minor – good try!

At the other table, declarer played the ten of hearts from dummy at trick one to gain information about East’s holding in hearts. When East covered this with the Queen, declarer surmised that East had begun with Ace-Queen to six hearts, making it highly unlikely that he had the Ace of diamonds.

After winning the first trick with a ruff, declarer relied on the old dictum: “When in doubt, play to set up the side-suit that offers the most promise.” Accordingly, the King of diamonds was smartly on the table at trick two.

West took the Ace of diamonds and realised that even if partner held a singleton diamond a ruff might only help declarer (which it would), so he played a second heart.

Declarer ruffed this, cashed the Ace of trumps then played a second round of diamonds. All that East could do was to eventually ruff the diamond and exit with a club.

Declarer rose with the Ace, then played a trump to dummy’s King, drawing the last trump, before discarding his club losers on dummy’s diamonds, making the contract with an overtrick.

A couple of interesting side notes here – notice the great play of the nine of hearts at trick one by East, playing partner for J85 or J852 – if he plays the Queen then West cannot play another heart later without giving declarer a trick.

Also note that only one lead would have defeated four spades – and that lead is the Queen of spades – nice hand!

David Ezekiel can be reached on davidezekiel999@gmail.com


Friday, September 8

1. Marge Way – Jane Smith

2. Molly Taussig – John Burville

3. Diana Diel – Stephanie Kyme

Monday, September 11

1. Stephanie Kyme – Joe Wakefield

2. Wendy Gray – Richard Gray

3. Sheena Rayner – Molly Taussig

Tuesday, September 12

1. Sarah Bowers – Heidi Dyson

2. Lillian Griffiths – Ben Stone

3. Jean Schilling – Catherine Kennedy

Wednesday, September 13

1. Gertie Barker – Jane Smith

2. Molly Taussig – Tony Saunders

3. Rachael Gosling – Steve Cosham

Thursday, September 14

Game cancelled

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Published September 16, 2023 at 7:56 am (Updated September 16, 2023 at 7:19 am)

Drawing trumps with no plan can be fatal for declarers

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