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Fear the ruff and mismanage trumps

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The world is full of fear at the moment, and before I get to the bridge fear that is the focus of this column, let me add my voice to those who are exhorting you to just stay home, as much as possible and follow all the advice to the letter, as it is hugely important for you and perhaps others.

When the stay at home order first started I saw the grocery days as an outing, but no more.

With all the lines and the human contact it is best avoided if you can get a lot of it online, though I know the wait times for delivery have expanded.

This especially applies to a lot of our members, many of whom are seniors and living alone.

The Bridge Club is more than a club, it is a family, if at times a bit of a dysfunctional one, but I can assure you that if there is anything you need help with, be it bridge or otherwise, simply contact any of the names you see so often on your e-mails and I know they would be happy to help.

They might not take your online grocery orders, but will certainly be there to help if needed!

Now to the bridge. The bridge fear I am going to address today is the fear of ruffs, which leads so many declarers to completely mismanage their trumps.

I am playing a lot of online bridge recently which is no surprise, one game with an experienced partner and two other games with intermediate/advanced players I am mentoring.

The one thing I notice more than anything with the latter two, is that once they get the lead as declarer, they draw trump without pausing for breath, and then start figuring out how to go down, because it is often too late to recover.

You are usually playing in a trump suit for a reason; if you never use your trumps for ruffs then on many hands, perhaps, you should have been playing in no trump?

So, today a bonus, two hands — the first one I have made pretty easy and the second one is not that easy and will scare the hell out of you at the table, but stick with me on that one and I will get you to play better.

See figure 1: you are in 4 Spades and West leads the Diamond 3 — you win and now what?

If you draw trump you will lose 4 tricks, no question.

You need a tenth trick and that can only come from a Heart ruff — so at trick two you must lead a Heart.

Now the opponents cannot beat you as your Heart ruff is eventually assured.

Even if you draw one round of trumps you can be beaten — they can play trumps each time you then lead Hearts, and you are defeated.

So take a good look at this hand and always plan your declarer play early.

Now to the next one and I know how difficult this will be for you at the table, even after you totally get what I am saying.

See figure 2: you get to the contract of 6 Spades with the rock crusher of the South hand on the lead of the Heart queen — over to you.

I know exactly what will happen at the table in the hands of all but a handful of players, declarer wins the heart lead, draws trump, and finally ends up praying that clubs are 3-3, they are not and the contract fails.

Now to the correct way to play the hand, win the Heart and draw only two rounds of trump.

Don't faint, stay with me! Now, whilst you are hyperventilating play three rounds of Clubs.

If Clubs are 3-3 all is well, draw the last trump and claim. What if Clubs are 4-2? Well something good may still happen — this is the full hand.

See figure 3: East shows out on the third Club but cannot ruff — you now ruff your fourth Club, come to hand, draw the last trump and claim — well done!

Now you can go to the toilet and release the tension by throwing up.

Do you see why this play is correct?

If you draw trump your only hope is 3-3 Clubs, on the suggested line of play you will make if Clubs are 3-3 and if they are 4-2 if the hand with the short Clubs has only two trump; an extra chance that costs you nothing, other than maybe ageing you a year or two.

What if your third Club is ruffed?

Well, you can now ruff your fourth Club and go the same one down as if you had drawn trump. No loss, for some potential gain.

Figure 1
Figure 2
Figure 3
<p>Bridge results, April 11, 2020</p>

Week 3 Online results Bermuda Bridge Club

Match points

1. Des Nash

2. Judy King

3. Jim Leitch

4. Sharon Guay


1. Donna Leitch

2. Katrina Van Pelt

3. Lynanne Bolton

4. Bill Pollett


1. Luis Gariepy

2. Richard Neame

3. Marion Silver

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Published April 11, 2020 at 9:00 am (Updated April 10, 2020 at 1:57 pm)

Fear the ruff and mismanage trumps

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