Fragile, Handle with CareJuly 8, 2013
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The deal and bidding are as follows:
West leads the 8.
You need to bring in the suit for discarding the losers in your hand. You have to play the trumps too and the trump combination appears very fragile. What do you do?
Side suit first is the general principle; meaning that between establishing a suit and tackling trumps, side suit gets the priority. Accordingly, you win the opening lead in hand and play to the A and ruff a , to provide for a doubleton K in either hand. No luck. You play a to the J and note RHO following with the ten. You play theQ next. RHO follows with the K and you ruff, LHO following suit. The eight- card position is shown below:
You play the Q from hand. If LHO covers the , win with the A and keep playing s. LHO is welcome to ruff anytime he likes. Win the return in hand, draw the last trump, cross to the A and enjoy the winners, throwing all your losers.
If LHO does not cover the Q, play low from dummy. Cross to the A and play the winners. As before LHO can take his trump trick any time he likes.
If you play s initially before tackling s, you will go down in this contract. When LHO shows up with four s to the K, you appear to be in a difficult situation. However, the winners act as trump substitute, enabling you to make the contract.
If I had stopped short in game fearing poor quality of trumps in my hand, there would have been no story! I would have denied myself the thrill and excitement of making a difficult slam contract!! So, go ahead, overbid, but make it up by your expert play!
Summary & Tip
When declaring a suit contract, typically the first order of business is drawing trumps. However there are situations when other suits may have to be played before drawing trumps. In order to be a feared declarer, you should be able to recognize such situations and change your game plan accordingly.