Article 7K46 Main

Crossruff Elopement

 by Richard Pavlicek

The key play was missed on this deal from a recent knockout team match. South became declarer in 4 H after the auction shown, and West led the S K. Put yourself in the South seat and ask yourself how you would proceed.

East dealsS A 6 4 3WestNorthEastSouth
None vulH J 7 4 2Pass1 H
D 8 21 S2 H2 S4 H
C 5 4 2PassPassPass
S K Q 10 8 7TableS J 9 2
H Q 10 8H 5
D J 10D Q 9 6 5 3
C A 9 6C K J 10 7
S 5
H A K 9 6 3
D A K 7 4
4 H SouthC Q 8 3

The actual declarer won the S A and drew two rounds of trumps, revealing that West held the guarded queen. It was a routine matter to ruff two diamonds in dummy, but there was no way to avoid the loss of three clubs and a heart — down one. Would you have done better?

The key play is very subtle but would be normal technique for an expert. At trick two, declarer should ruff a spade in his hand. This alone accomplishes nothing, but it sets the stage for a successful crossruff and trump elopement.

After ruffing the spade, declarer cashes two trumps and two diamonds, then ruffs a diamond in dummy as West pitches a spade. Another spade is ruffed, and the last diamond is led, giving West an insoluble problem: He cannot afford to ruff (declarer would pitch a club from dummy); he cannot throw his last spade (else the S 6 would be good), so he pitches a club. Declarer then is able to ruff the last spade in his hand as West has to follow suit. That’s 10 tricks if you’re still with me.

There is a fine line in deciding whether to ruff in the longer trump hand. It is generally wrong if declarer plans to establish his side suit; but on crossruff deals, it is usually right. The chance to elope with an extra trick is greater if your trumps are evenly divided.

Article 7K46 MainTop Crossruff Elopement

© 2000 Richard Pavlicek