This hand was dealt in a Chicago game recently. East-West
were vulnerable and West dealt:
The four of hearts was led. The problem is how to make the contract. Put
yourself in South’s seat and decide on a plan before reading on. It is
tempting to take the ace and king of hearts and then try and cross-ruff the
hand out without pulling trumps. If you can make all nine trumps separately
you will take eleven tricks for an overtrick, losing only two diamonds. The
difficulty is that you run the risk of being over-ruffed at some point.
Declarer tried this tempting line of play at the table and ended up going
The alternative is to pull trumps first. But, if you do this, how can you
set up your hand? You have eight potentially losing cards in the minors. One
can be thrown on the ace of hearts. Even if you can pull trumps in only two
rounds you will be left with only three trumps on board to ruff your losers
in hand. That still leaves four losers and you go one down.
The solution lies in dummy’s six card heart suit. Dummy has no trump losers
(when combined with the high trumps in hand), no club losers and only two
diamond losers. If you can play the heart suit for only one loser, then you
have the contract made. As the cards lie, trumps split. Pull them in two
rounds, ending on board. Then play the ace of hearts and ruff a low heart.
Cross back to dummy by ruffing a club and ruff another low heart with your
last trump. Now dummy’s remaining hearts are good, and you lose only two
diamonds. Eleven tricks made. Even if trumps are not quite so friendly and
need three rounds to pull them, you will still make the contract after
conceding a heart to set them up—you take five trump tricks, one heart ruff,
two high hearts and two long hearts for ten tricks. This is a dummy reverse,
which is often useful, particularly when dummy has a long suit, but
sometimes difficult to see. All of us tend to focus on setting up our own
hand, rather then dummy. If your plan of play for this hand was a dummy
I would like to hear from readers about their favourite hands—please do
contact me at [email protected] Bridge Club of Chiang Mai welcomes
all players. We have members from seventeen different countries already. For
information on the Club go to the website www.bridgewebs.com/chiangmai.