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You need a good reason to delay drawing trumps

There is one issue that towers above all others when declaring a trump contract: Do I get rid of (“draw”) the opposing trumps immediately, or do I delay the process? There is no simple answer (sorry!), but you do need a reason to postpone matters, because there is the risk that that the opponents will trump (“ruff”) your winners.

South Deals
Both Vul
9 6 5
9 7 3
A K Q 5 2
Q 10
Q 10
K Q 10 8
J 9 8 4 3
8 4
W   E
J 7
J 6 2
10 6
A K 6 5 3 2
A K 8 4 3 2
A 5 4
J 9 7
West North East South
Pass 2  Pass 2 
Pass 3  Pass 4 1
All pass      
  1. Close - but vulnerable games are worth bidding, as the reward for success is high.


What happened
Declarer won  K with  A, and was in too much of a hurry to discard his heart losers on dummy’s diamonds. At Trick Two he crossed to  Q, and followed with  A, (on which he threw one heart), then  K. It was on this last top diamond that East ruffed sharply with  J. Declarer made the best play, refraining from overruffing (dooming him to a trump loser), and instead threw his last heart (as planned). On many layouts declarer would have survived, but here East was able to cash  AK (noting West follow with  8 then  4 to encourage), then lead a third club. West ruffed with  10, and that meant down one.

What should have happened
If drawing trumps had involved a quick loser, declarer would have been correct to cash dummy’s diamonds first. But there was no need here. Win  A, and cash  AK. Here you are favoured by a 2-2 split, but on a (more likely) 3-1 split, you would leave the master trump outstanding, and progress to diamonds, still making unless the second diamond was ruffed. As it is (trumps gone), you cross to  AKQ knowing your game is secure (indeed for an overtrick). Away go the two losing hearts, after which you can force out  AK. 11 tricks and game made plus one.

If you remember one thing...
You need a reason to Delay drawing trumps.

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