Column 7C89   Main

Ruffing Attempt Destined To Fail

  by Richard Pavlicek

I was in Roanoke, Va., over the Memorial Day weekend for the Mid-Atlantic Regional Tournament, where this deal arose in the Flight A Knockout Teams Our opponents used the popular “one-notrump forcing” response to a major opening, and I overcalled two diamonds as East, primarily as a lead director. North’s belated jump to three spades showed 11-12 points with three-card trump support, and South continued to game.

4 S South
N-S Vul
S K Q 3
H 7 2
D Q 6 5 4
C A 7 6 2


1 NT
3 S

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

Lead: D 10
S A 7 6 5 4
H A K 6 3
D 8 2
C K 3

West led the diamond 10, which held, and another diamond to the jack as North played low. The diamond king was ruffed and overruffed, then West shifted to the club jack. Declarer needed the rest of the tricks, and the only chance seemed to be to ruff two hearts in dummy.

Declarer won the club ace, cashed the spade king, and played three rounds of hearts, ruffing low in dummy. A club was led to the king, and the last heart was ruffed with dummy’s queen as East discarded a club. Everything worked well so far; but alas, declarer could not return to his hand to cash the spade ace. He tried a club, but East ruffed with the spade jack to promote a trump trick for West.

Declarer’s line of play was destined to fail no matter how the cards were divided — a fact that should have been foreseen. The only real chance is to draw trumps (which must break two-two after the overruff) and hope to catch West in a squeeze position. Win West’s club return with the king, draw trumps ending in dummy, and ruff the last diamond (key play). On this trick West must let go a club or a heart, after which declarer can establish the long card in that suit.

The contract can be made more aesthetically by ruffing the third round of diamonds with the ace. This has the effect of squeezing West in three suits, one of which is the trump suit. If he underruffs, he loses his trump trick; otherwise, he must abandon his club or heart stopper. Pretty neat.

Column 7C89   MainTop   Ruffing Attempt Destined To Fail

© 1988 Richard Pavlicek