Exercise 3F33   Main

Diamonds In the Ruff

  by Richard Pavlicek

You are playing in a national Swiss team event and have a 6-1 record going into the final round. Your opponents boast an identical record, so a win here would cinch the event. Your nerves begin to tremble as you pick up this hand as South:

N-S Vul
S 2
H A 3 2
D K Q 10 9 8
C K Q 4 3

What is your opening bid?

That was easy. Partner responds 1 S and your opponents will pass throughout.

What is your rebid?

This shows five-four shape in the suits you bid. It would be wrong to rebid 1 NT with a singleton spade. Partner surprises you next with a jump to 3 D.

Now what?

Your hand is undesirable to bid notrump, and slam is a possibility. This shows the ace since there is no reason to bid a real heart suit on this auction. If you held a heart stopper such as K-J-x, you would bid 3 NT. Showing the ace allows partner to bid 3 NT if desirable, but he continues with 4 C.

What next?

Partner’s hand must also be undesirable for notrump. He is showing the C A, and slam is imminent so take control with Blackwood. Partner answers 5 H.

Now what?

Of course. Partner passes. Make this slam and you win the event!

West leads the H Q, and partner has about what you expected. This is what you see:

N-S Vul
S Q 10 9 4 3
H 7
D A J 7 6
C A 8 2

All Pass

1 S
3 D
4 C
5 H

1 D
2 C
3 H
4 NT
6 D
Lead: H Q Table
S 2
H A 3 2
D K Q 10 9 8
6 D SouthC K Q 4 3

How many top tricks?

If you ruff two hearts in dummy, how many tricks would it gain?

If instead you ruff three spades in your hand, how many tricks would it gain?

Which of the above suits is more beneficial to ruff?

The reason is because the fifth spade will be good with a 4-3 split, then you won’t depend on a 3-3 club break.

After winning the H A, which card do you lead?

For sure! You must start this suit while dummy has plenty of entries. West plays low, North the 10 and East wins the jack. East returns a trump, you play the 10 and West follows.

In which hand do you win this trick?

Definitely! All your trump spots are equal so this is a free choice (assume you won the jack).

Which suit do you lead now?

Both opponents follow and you ruff. You next lead the D K and West sheds a heart.

Which diamond do you play from dummy?

Flashy! Of course you could have led any diamond to the ace.

Exercise 3F33   MainTop   Diamonds In the Ruff

These cards remain:

North leads
S Q 9 4
D 7 6
C A 8 2
D trump
win 8/8
H 3 2
D Q 9
C K Q 4 3

Which suit do you lead?

Both opponents follow (the S K drops) and you ruff.

What do you lead next?

It is better to take this slight risk now (before East is able to discard a club) and you win the ace.

Which suit do you lead next?

What else! You ruff and the S A falls.

What next?

You ruff this in dummy. Careful now!

What do you lead?

Well done! This draws East’s last trump, and you cash the good S Q to ensure the slam.

The missing hands:

S A 7 6 5
H Q J 10 8
D 2
C 10 9 7 5
Table S K J 8
H K 9 6 5 4
D 5 4 3
C J 6

Exercise 3F33   MainTop   Diamonds In the Ruff

© 1999 Richard Pavlicek