X-Clubs Play 12

Here is a simple declarer play problem. Well, it should be simple. The hand pretty well plays itself, but declarer needs to think just one step ahead in order to get the best result.

Board 10 from Tuesday 1-Mar
Dealer E All Vul


Not all Souths opened a weak 2S, nor did all NS pairs end up in 4S. But let’s look at the ones who did.

West invariably led the DK against 4S. One declarer won in dummy and led the trump nine, intending to run it. East went up with the ace and hopefully led a second diamond, but declarer ruffed. Crossing to the ace of clubs, declarer now led a second trump and East rose with the king. East exited with a club, expecting to still make the jack of trumps. Declarer won the CQ in dummy and started on hearts. After all, they were now as good as trumps. But when declarer ran all the hearts and East refused to ruff, he ended up with Q106 in hand and having to ruff with the six and then leading from Q10 to East’s J2. East thus scored the jack of trumps, as he had expected, declarer making his contract exactly.

Declarer should have made an overtrick had he thought just a little way ahead. All the had to do was ruff another diamond, which would have reduced his trumps to the same number as East. Then East would have been caught in a ‘Trump Coup’ at the end. The same situation arises if East ducks the nine of spades. That holds and East must win the continuation with the king. Whatever happens next, declarer can work the same trump coup, as long as he looks ahead and takes the trouble to ruff a third diamond in hand. Such trumps coups occur more than one might think, but are seldom executed properly because declarer fails to think the play through to its logical conclusion.

You won’t want to fail in a difficult slam just because of a bad break, so learn to think your plan through to the end, not just the first few tricks.

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