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Bridge in Paradise: by Neil Robinson

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 down one.
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 reverse, congratulations!
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

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Bridge in Paradise