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When to ignore the “Rule of One”

When drawing the opposing trumps, typically you will get rid of them all, then stop; but if they have just one trump remaining that is higher, you should generally leave it out (the Rule of One - see last deal).

Generally - but not always. If dummy has a long ready-to-run suit but no side entry, you need to remove all the opposing trumps first, even the one remaining master.

South Deals
N-S Vul
7 4
A 3
A K 8 6 5 2
8 5 3
10 8
K J 9 2
Q J 10
K J 9 7
W   E
J 9 6 5
Q 10 8 6 4
9 3
Q 10
A K Q 3 2
7 5
7 4
A 6 4 2
West North East South
Pass 2  Pass 2 1
Pass 4 2 All pass  
  1. Up to 15 points and normally a six-card
    suit. Here South (reasonably) prefers to
    rebid his chunky five-card spade suit rather
    than introduce clubs at the Three-level.
  2. Bullish with two small trumps, but a bid
    and rebid suit (such as South’s spades) will
    (should) contain six cards far more often
    than not, and should be assumed to be six.
    Plus it pays to take chances bidding vulnerable
    games (you win the rubber when successful),
    and North has three quick tricks
    and an establishable (diamond) suit.

What happened
West led from his tempting sequence,  Q. This was somewhat dubious in the light of North’s 2  bid, but his broken honour holdings in hearts and clubs made a lead of those suits very dangerous (although either lead would beat the 4  game).

Declarer won  K, and crossed to  AKQ, West discarding on the third to reveal the 4-2 split. There was just one (higher) trump outstanding. Correctly leaving it out (this was no issue for South, who believed the Rule of One was gospel), declarer crossed to  A (both following - revealing the 3-2 split - and ruffed (trumped) a third diamond, setting up the suit (as East correctly discarded - a heart). Declarer had played perfectly thus far. But it was now crux time - what next?

At the table declarer led over to dummy’s  A and led a winning diamond. No good - East ruffed with  J, declarer throwing his last heart, then led  4. Declarer ruffed with his last trump, but could only score  A. Down one.

What should have happened
Instead of crossing to  A, declarer should have led his last trump to remove East’s  J. He wins (say)  Q return with  A, crosses to  A, and enjoys established diamond winners. Five diamonds, four trumps and two aces mean 11 tricks and game made plus one.

If you remember one thing...
When dummy has a ready-to-run suit and no entry, first remove all opposing trumps (even one master trump).

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