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Setting up a side suit

Setting up a suit to promote Length winners is usually associated with notrumps. Yet in trump contracts, you can set up a suit by trumping (“ruffing”). This extra option enables you to set up suits without losing the lead, and can be very lucrative (if oft neglected).

Take A5432 K6 (as on this deal). You lead K, then over to A. In notrumps, you have to give up the third round (on a 3-3 split), or the third and fourth rounds (a 4-2 split), in order to promote Length Winner(s).

In a trump contract, those rounds can be ruffed. Note that the ruffs will not be extra tricks, because they will be with long trumps (that would have scored anyway). However they certainly facilitate promoting those Length Winners.   Intermediate deal of the month

South Deals
Both Vul
♠ Q 10 3
6 5 2
A 5 4 3 2
♣ J 9
♠ 9 8 5
K 8 7
J 9
♣ K Q 8 3 2
West   East
♠ 6
J 10 9 4
Q 10 8 7
♣ A 10 6 5
  ♠ A K J 7 4 2
A Q 3
K 6
♣ 7 4
West North East South
      1 ♠
Pass 2 ♠1 Pass 4 ♠
All pass

Contract: 4 ♠ by South
Opening Lead:  ♣ K
  1. The single major raise does not guarantee four-card support, and, here, is a much better alternative to the nebulous 1NT (you are not stong enough for 2)

What happened

West led  ♣K, East signalling encouragement with ♣10 (“throw high means aye”). West continued with  ♣3 to  ♣A, whereupon East switched to J. Declarer tried Q, but when West won K and returned 8 to A, he was staring at a heart loser. What to do?

At the table, declarer saw no way. He ran all his trumps and
hoped for a miracle (or a bit of help). He got neither, West cleverly retaining 7, and East keeping a diamond guard. Down one.

What should have happened

After winning A at Trick Four, declarer needs to set up dummy’s diamonds. This should be started before touching trumps, because he needs dummy’s trumps as
entries in the establishment process. This is the correct line: Cash K, cross to A, ruff 3 with ♠J.  The 4-2 diamond split revealed (a bore, but it can be handled), cross to ♠10, and ruff 4 with ♠K. Dummy’s fifth diamond
set up, cash ♠A, cross to ♠Q (drawing their trumps), and lead 5, a Length Winner, on which 3 can be dumped. 10 tricks - game made.

If you remember just one thing....

Making Length Winners is particularly attractive in trump contracts - the suit can be set up by ruffing.

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