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JUST BRIDGE...

 

DRAWING TRUMPS SOONEST IS
AN IDEA NEEDING A CONTEXT

 

by Beverly Kraft -Eric Kokish

 

 

 Insert yourself in the South position and plan the play in 4 on the lead of the challenging lead of the Q from West after the auction in the bidding diagram.


Both vulnerable; North deals

 

  A 9 6
A 5
A Q 7 6

J 10 9 2

   
  K 7 5
Q 8 6 4 3 2

K 8 5 4

 

West North East South
  1NT Pass 4
Pass Pass Pass  



Opening Lead:
Q

 The spade lead will force you to discard a spade on the ace of diamonds before the defenders gain the lead twice. If you win the
K and play two rounds of trumps immediately and the defenders cannot arrange a ruff, you will lose only one trump trick when the suit is three-two and East holds the king (ace, then low towards the queen, playing it unless the king appears) or when West has the doubleton king and you find the inspiration to play for it (ace, then low from both hands). If you have only one trump loser, you can afford two club losers.

 If you have three trump losers, you can't make 4
, so the only other relevant cases arise when you have two trump losers. In these situations, you will have to lose only one club trick to get home, and your chances to achieve this will be much greater if you can lead the suit twice from dummy. If you can't arrange to do this, you will need the queen singleton or doubleton in East. Note that you might get home by playing on clubs even if you run into a club ruff because the ruff will often be with a natural trump trick.

 One of the many sound reasons to delay drawing trumps is that entries may be limited and there may be a better chance for the contract by using a vital trump entry to play a side suit rather than to continue trumps.

 Here the winning line is to win the
K, cross to the A, and lead the J, passing it if East plays low. As the cards lie, declarer can play either a club or a trump at this point and still get home. If East rises on the first club, declarer will finesse for the queen later.

 Kraft: Is it just lucky that playing clubs before trumps makes the contract?

 Kokish: Not so, there are more winning combinations that flow from this sequence plays. In fact, when the hand was played in the 1999 Canadian Teams Championships, the East/West cards were distributed differently. When declarer won the
K and crossed to the A, East played the king. If trumps were indeed four-one, West had two natural tricks. Declarer was essentially forced into the "clubs before trumps" line, which worked.

 Kraft: That seems straightforward when we examine the deal at leisure, but in the heat of battle, more than one capable declarer had a blind spot at the table and played a second trump before turning to clubs. Well, that would have been right if East had found the brilliant play of the king of hearts from king-and-one, with a club holding of two small. What a story that would have made.

The four hands were:

 

  A 9 6
A 5
A Q 7 6

J 10 9 2

Q J 2
K J 10
10 8 5 4 2
7 6
10 8 4 3
9 7
K J 9 3

A Q 3

  K 7 5
Q 8 6 4 3 2

K 8 5 4