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Ruff in Dummy

Consider the following pair of two suit layouts with spades as trumps.

(a) Dummy   (b) Dummy
 987     987
 A43     2
(a) Declarer   (b) Declarer
 AKQJ10    AKQJ10
 2    A43

In both scenarios you start with five trump tricks plus  A. The issue is whether trumping hearts will gain you extra tricks.

In (a) you can cash  A, voiding your hand of hearts, then trump (“ruff”) dummy’s two remaining hearts. However because you are ruffing in the your hand, with trumps that will score tricks anyway by virtue of their length and strength, these are NOT extra tricks - merely another way of making two of your trumps.

In (b) you will be ruffing hearts with dummy’s trumps, which would not ordinarily score tricks in their own right, falling helplessly under yours as you draw the opposing trumps. The two ruffs are extra tricks.

In other words, ruffing in the long trump hand (typically declarer’s) gains little; ruffing in the short trump hand (dummy) gains lots. However it is no use drawing the opposing trumps before doing the ruffing. Because drawing the opposing trumps also draws dummy’s, which are needed.

South Deals
None Vul
J 6 2
8 6 2
Q 2
A 6 5 4 3
J 10 9
A J 10 5 4
K Q J 9
W   E
10 9 3
A Q 7 3
K 9 8
10 8 7
A K Q 7 5 4
K 5 4
7 6 3
West North East South
2  2  3  3 
All pass      


What happened
Declarer won West’s  K with  A and immediately ruffed a club: pointlessly - as he is bound to make all his six trumps come what may. He then crossed to  J, and ruffed a third club (again - no benefit). He next drew trumps, but with no dummy entry to lead towards  K, had to lose all six red cards. Down two.

What should have happened
Rather than ruff clubs in hand, you as declarer should focus on ruffing your third diamond in dummy, thereby scoring an extra trick. Win  A and give up a diamond. The defence do best to switch to a trump (more anon); win (say with  J) and lead a second diamond, thus voiding the dummy. Win the trump return in hand, ruff a third diamond (one extra trick), then lead  2. With East holding  A (good), your  K is promoted and you have nine tricks.

If you remember one thing...
Ruffing in the dummy is good. Ruffing in your hand is not

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