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Ruff low then high? or high then low?

To draw or not to draw? Perhaps the most important occasion in which drawing trumps must be delayed is when you need to trump (“ruff”) losers in dummy. Players are often overly worried about an overruff.

Exercise: How likely would you suffer an overruff if you have:

(a) Three cards facing one, ruffing the second then third?
(b) Three cards facing two, ruffing the third?
(c) Four cards facing two, ruffing the third, then fourth?


(a) Almost impossible. The suit would have to split 7-2, and you would surely have heard from the player with seven cards.
(b) Unlikely. The suit would have to split 6-2, and, again, the player with the six-card suit might well have uttered in the bidding.
(c) The third may get overruffed, if the suit splits 5-2, but a 4-3 split is more likely. However the fourth round must be overruffed (assuming the fourth player has a higher trump). The risk has moved from relatively low, up to 100%.


South Deals
N-S Vul
Q 10
9 7
9 7 6 5 4 3 2
J 4
5 2
Q J 8 4 3
10 8 6
W   E
J 6 4
10 6
10 8
Q 9 7 5 3 2
A K 9 8 7 3
A K 5 2
West North East South
      2 1
Pass 2 2 Pass 2 
Pass 3  Pass 3 
Pass 3  Pass 5 3
Pass 6 4 All pass  
  1. 23+ points, or any game force.
  2. Negative - up to seven points.
  3. “I have a rock-crusher. Do you have a little
    something for me for the slam?”
  4.  Q10 are surely gold dust.


What happened
West led  K, and declarer correctly identified the need to ruff two hearts in dummy. However, after winning  A, then correctly cashing  AK and leading  2, he ruffed with  10. Oops. East overruffed with  J, and the error of his ways was revealed when East returned  4 removing dummy’s last trump. Declarer could not now ruff his last heart, and went down one.

What should have happened
You can afford to lose a trump trick, as long as both your hearts are ruffed. Ruff the third heart with  Q (key play), and the fourth with  10. East can overruff with  J, but that is the only trick you lose. 12 tricks and slam made.

If you remember one thing...
With two ruffs to secure, normally ruff first low then high; but not if you want to be ensure both ruffs.

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