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Draw or Delay?

Draw or Delay? That is the question. Removing the opposing trumps early is clearly desirable, to avoid the risk of them trumping your winners. However sometimes there are more pressing concerns.

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

What happened
Declaring 4 , South won  K lead with  A, and counted five trump tricks (all bar  A),  AK, two easily establishable diamonds, plus  A. 10 winners. Assuming all was well, he led a trump at Trick Two. All was not well. East won  A, led a over to West’s  QJ, and ¨A took the setting trick. Down one. 10 winners does not automatically mean three losers. The point here is that dummy’s second heart winner was never utilised. In a sense, it scored at Trick 14.

What should have happened
Declarer delays trumps for a couple of tricks, winning §A, and immediately leading over to dummy’s  AK. A club loser is discarded on the second of these (key play), and now there are 10 winners but only three losers. A trump is led at Trick Four, but this time, after East wins ªA and returns a club, there is but one defensive winner in the suit, declarer able to ruff the third club, draw the outstanding club, and force out  A. 10 tricks and game made.

Note that if dummy’s hearts were slightly weaker,  AQ3, you would have to risk a finesse of  Q at Trick Two as your only chance of success. At Matchpointed Duplicate you would have the additional worry of going down two (instead of one) should that finesse fail.

If you remember one thing...
If drawing trumps involves losing the lead, and you have too many top losers, check to see if there is a suit in which there are more winners than you have cards in your hand. If so, you must play out those winners before doing anything (like leading a trump).

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