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Setting up a side suit

We established that trumping “ruffing” in the short trump hand (normally dummy) is an excellent way to make extra trump tricks. This is the process:

  1. Look for a side-suit (i.e. not trumps) in which dummy has fewer cards (0, 1 or 2) than you.
  2. If you have such a suit, then you can make extra tricks by voiding dummy of that suit a.s.a.p.
  3. Then trump any extra cards with dummy’s trumps.
  4. Finally, draw the opponents trumps.

Note that the ruffing in dummy needs to be done before drawing trumps (unless dummy has four or more); draw trumps first and dummy’s trumps will be drawn too.

South Deals
None Vul
6 4 3
6 3
A 6 5 2
9 7 6 4
9 8 2
A J 10
K Q 9 8
J 8 3
W   E
K 9 8 5 2
10 7 3
Q 10 5 2
A K Q J 10 5
Q 7 4
J 4


South West North
  2 1 Pass 2 NT2
Pass 3 3 Pass 4 4
All pass      
  1. Strong Two - 20-22 points and a good five/six card suit.
  2. Conventional negative - 0-7 points.
  3. Giving partner an out-clause...
  4. ...but an ace and three trumps is ample to raise to game.


What happened
Declarer beat West’s  K with dummy’s  A, and drew trumps. With 3-1 being the most likely division of four missing trumps, this took the expected three rounds...

And now the 4  game could no longer be made, with dummy now out of trumps. Declarer lost a diamond and, crucially, three hearts, at the end of the play. Down one.

What should have happened
There are fewer hearts in dummy than in hand, so a heart can be ruffed, provided you start early. Win  A, and lead  3 to (say)  Q and West’s  A. West does best to switch to a trump, in an attempt to remove dummy’s trumps. Win  10 and give up a second heart. West wins  10 and leads a second trump. Win  J and now, the extra trick, lead your third heart and ruff it with dummy’s final trump. Cross to  K, draw West’s last trump, and merely give up a diamond at the end. 10 tricks and game made.

If you remember one thing...
Is there a side-suit in which dummy has fewer cards (0, 1 or 2) than you? If so, you can trump in dummy (but should do so a.s.a.p).

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