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Ruff Day At Work

This deal produced a large swing in a recent team game when 6 S was bid at only one table. The 3 NT bid was a “forcing spade raise” denying a singleton or void; 4 D and 4 H were control-bids, then South used Blackwood to reach the excellent slam.

6 S by South

None Vul
S J 10 8 3
H A 7 6
D K 5
C A 7 6 5
S 5
H K Q J 2
D J 10 9 7 3
C Q 9 2
TableS 7 6 4
H 10 9 3
D 8 4
C K J 10 8 3
Lead: H KS A K Q 9 2
H 8 5 4
D A Q 6 2
C 4

West

Pass
Pass
Pass
All Pass
North

3 NT
4 H
5 H
East

Pass
Pass
Pass
South
1 S
4 D
4 NT
6 S

West led the H K. There were 10 top tricks, and two more would have to come from ruffing. South’s plan was to discard one of dummy’s hearts on the third diamond, then ruff a heart and a diamond in dummy. On a good day this would work, but diamonds did not lie friendly. East ruffed the third round and returned a heart to take the setting trick. Too bad. It would not have helped to draw East’s trumps either, as this limits dummy to one ruff.

Declarer went about his ruffs in the wrong way. It is awkward to ruff in the dummy, yet very convenient to ruff clubs in hand. It is important to understand that the first club ruff does not gain a trick because it comes in the longer hand, but the second and third ruffs do.

The correct play is to win the H A; cash the C A; ruff a club (high); spade to the eight; club ruff (high); diamond to king; club ruff (high); spade to dummy and run the trumps. You might even be given an overtrick if West lets go of his diamond stopper.

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© 1998 Richard Pavlicek