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Preserving trump entries

“Just one point, partner”, said North as he tabled his meagre assets on this 5 ♣ deal from a highstake weekend rubber at Stuart Wheeler’s glorious Chilham Castle. Although that one jack might as well have been a two, the story was to have a happy ending.

Board Rubber


South Deals
N-S Vul

7 6 4
J 6 4 3 2
10 9 4 2
A K Q 9 6 3
8 5
K 9 8
8 5
W   E
J 10 5 2
Q J 10 3
Q 10 7
K 7
8 4
A K 9 2
A 5
A Q J 6 3
West North East South
      1 ♣
1 ♠ Pass 3 ♠1 Dbl2
4 ♠3 Pass Pass Dbl4
Pass 5 ♣5 Pass Pass
  1. Preempting to the presumed level of the fit, correct defensive bidding tactics.
  2. Take-out.
  3. Holding an extra spade, West knows the level of the fit is Four.
  4. Optional, i.e. “I think I can beat 4, but if you fancy bidding on that’s fine too”.
  5. A much better-suited hand to offense, with the singleton spade and likely ninecard club fit. In fact 4 doubled would go
    down two on a club lead through dummy’s
    king, but +300 is scant compensation for a
    vulnerable game (worth 600).

West kicked off with the ace of spades and East played the jack (a suit preference signal – not attitude – when dummy has a singleton), indicating the desire for a heart switch. West duly switched to the eight of hearts to East’s ten and declarer won the king.

Needing to dispose of his hearts on dummy’s diamonds, declarer needed to hope diamonds were splitting 3-3 and had to start that establishment process immediately. At tricks three and four he led ace and another diamond (key plays).

East won the second diamond with the queen, beating dummy’s jack and continued with the queen of hearts. Winning the ace, declarer ruffed his second spade with the two of clubs, then led the ten.

East was aware of the need to prevent declarer from winning the ten of trumps in dummy, enabling him to set up diamonds by ruffing a third  ound, so brightly covered the ten with the king. Declarer won the ace and now had to lead specifically the six of trumps, overtaking with the nine. When both followed, he ruffed a third diamond with the jack, again pleased to see the even split.

At trick ten declarer led the preserved three of trumps, overtaking with dummy’s four and could then cash the two long diamonds discarding his two remaining hearts. A clinically executed and not unfortunate 11 tricks and game made.

What of the defence? Although East asked for a heart at trick two, a second spade from West would have removed a dummy entry prematurely (and entries to the one-point dummy were obviously somewhat scarce). Declarer would now be unable to set up diamonds whilst also picking up the king of trumps. Down one.

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