No, this is not the slogan for a new political campaign. Rather, it refers to the use of trump cards to score tricks when playing a suit contact at the bridge table, outside of having to rely solely on the brute force of high-card winners.

In my article in ESRAmagazine 162, I discussed the proper management of the trump suit. I started by stating that, in general, when playing a trump contract, one wants to clear the opponents’ hands of low trump cards lest they use them to ruff your high-card winners in the side suits. However, there are several situations that arise at the bridge table where it is necessary to hold off drawing trumps. I started by considering the following hand where you, as South, are declarer in 4 Spades after an uncontested auction:

 

West leads the ♣2 which you win with the ♣A in your hand. How do you continue?


South

A 10 9 6 3
Q 7 4 
©A K 5
¨A Q

 

North

K 4 2 
8 3
©7 6 4 2
¨K 7 5 3 

Looking at your hand and assuming a normal 3-2 spade break, you can see 5 potential losers: a Spade, three Hearts and a Diamond. You can park your losing Diamond on the K but in order to make the contract, you have no alternative but to get rid of your third Heart loser by trumping it in dummy. In order to be in a postion to do so, you have to give up the lead twice

in Hearts. You cannot afford to play even one round of trumps yourself because the defenders

will continue trumps when they get in with the Hearts, leaving you without the vital trump in

dummy. So, at trick two, play a Heart immediately, win the return and then play a second

round of Hearts. Now you can trump a Heart, and only then draw 2 rounds of Spades if needs

be, ending in dummy to discard your Diamond loser on the K. It doesn’t matter if the

opponents can ruff the Club with their winning Spade. Your contract is home.


Another way of looking at the above hand, is to look at generating the 10 tricks you need for the Spade game. On first inspection, you have only 9 tricks: 2 Diamonds, 3 Clubs and 4 Spade tricks in your hand - the “long hand” with respect to trumps. You need to use a trump in dummy, the “short” hand, to generate the 10th trick required for the contract.

Please note that trumping in the long hand does not result in the generation of an extra trick.

But does that mean trumping in the long hand never contributes to the success of your ontact?

Not at all. Consider:

South

A 6 3
7 4 
©A 10 9 8 3 4
¨10 4 

 

North

10
A 8 3 2
©K Q 7 
¨A 7 5 3 2 

You are declarer in 5 Diamonds. West leads the K and, when dummy comes down, you are somewhat peeved to see that, with 9 tricks on top, 3NT was a lay-down. Nonetheless it remains for you bring home the Diamond contract. Theoretically, you can score the extra 2 tricks you 2 need by ruffing 2 Spades in dummy, but this means using one of dummy’s Diamond honors and, if the trump suit breaks 3-1, you will end up losing a trick to the ¨J.

Your best bet is to play for Clubs to break 3-3 and to establish dummy’s fourth and fifth Clubs for the extra 2 tricks you need. So saying, win the first trick with the K and continue that suit. Win West’s likely heart return with the ©A in dummy and ruff a club. If Clubs break, draw three rounds of trumps, ending in dummy, and cash your 2 Club winners. If they don’t, East showing out on the third round of Clubs, you have no choice but to rely on trumps being 2-2: Enter dummy with a high Diamond and ruff a club. Re-enter dummy with the other high Diamond, hopefully drawing the opponent’s remaining trumps, and cash your Club winner. You still have a small trump in dummy to trump a Spade for 11 tricks.

My final hand is tricky, no pun intended:

South

K Q J 10
A 8 9 2
©8 7 4 2
¨

 

North

A 8 5 2
10 7
©J
¨A K J 8 5 2

As South, you’re in 4 Spades and West leads the ¨A and continues with the ¨K which you ruff low on the table. It’s tempting to go about establishing dummy’s Clubs by playing A, K and ruffing a Club, but if Clubs are 4-2 you don’t have enough entries to the table to both ruff a fourth round of Clubs and end up in dummy after all the trumps have been drawn to enjoy the established Club winners. But don’t be misled. There is a more certain way of making the contract:

With 4 Spade tricks in your hand, the Diamond ruff already taken, a top Heart and 2 top Clubs, all you need is two more Diamond ruffs in dummy to secure the contract. So, at trick 3 enter your hand with a trump and ruff a Diamond low. Next, get back to your hand with the ©A and ruff your last Diamond with dummy’s A. Dummy’s remaining Spade allows you re-entry to your hand to draw 2 more rounds of trumps before cashing the A and K on the table for 10 tricks. In most cases, you will make your contract even if trumps break 4-1.

President Trump’s ability to do magic remains to be seen but rest assured that proper trump

management at the bridge table will do the trick.

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About the author

Alan Caplan

Alan Caplan was born and raised in Johannesburg, South Africa. He was an active member of Bnei Zion and, subsequently, Habonim following the merger of the two movements. The year after high school ...
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