Wednesday Play at The Hutt

Board 21 from Wednesday 3/02/2021
Dealer N NS Vul


Despite the fact that I intend to focus on play in this series, the bidding on this board is worth addressing because it should be easy if you follow basic ‘rules’: West opens 1C, the lowest four card suit. East bids 1D. No other option. West bids 1H, next four card suit ‘up the line’. East bids 1S. West now has heard enough to bid 4S. A trump fit has been found and even opposite East’s minimum six points, West has the POINTS and TRUMP SUPPORT for GAME. Simple. Yet only four out of 12 EW pairs were in 4S.

Now let me talk about the declarer play in 4S. Say South leads the two of diamonds. Declarer plays the queen from dummy, North produces the king and declarer wins the ace. What should declarer do next? “Draw trumps”! The teacher may have told you that as a basic instruction, because that is why you have trumps - to take out your opponents’ trumps. But stop and think about my advice in so many earlier articles: DON’T draw trumps before you think the hand through. Is there any good reason to play any trumps at all to start with? The answer should be “no”. Nothing can go wrong by way of adverse ruffs if you take care of your CLUB suit immediately, by playing a club to dummy’s jack to set up two club tricks in dummy. You will certainly lose a club to the ace sooner or later, and sooner in this case is best, as you will see.

When North wins the ace, North’s best return is a trump, but the rest of the play should be easy. Declarer takes two top clubs, discarding a heart and a diamond from hand, and then plays two top hearts, intending to cross ruff. When North’s queen of hearts falls, dummy’s jack is good but the cross ruff can still be continued, North ruffing the jack of hearts and declarer over ruffing. Declarer makes eleven tricks. Yet two of our four declarers in 4S failed to make even the ten tricks required for the game - because they drew too many trumps before thinking any further.

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