Lesson 2Q Main

# Using Your Trumps

by Richard Pavlicek

As declarer at a suit contract, you will usually have the opportunity to gain an extra trick in the trump suit. This is done through the process of ruffing — leading a plain suit from one hand and trumping in the other.

## Gaining a Trump Trick

How do you gain a trump trick by ruffing? To investigate this, assume your trump suit is:

 1. A 8 7 K Q J 10 9

Clearly you can win five tricks simply by leading out your trumps, but that is nothing to be proud of. What happens if you ruff with the nine? The ruff gives you one trick and you are left with K-Q-J-10 to win four more; hence you will win the same five tricks. No gain.

But what happens if you ruff with the seven? This gives you one trick and you still have K-Q-J-10-9 to win five more; thus you will win six total tricks. By ruffing in the hand with fewer trumps you gain a trick.

What if your trump suit is evenly divided? For example:

 2. A 9 8 7 K Q J 10

You have four sure tricks, and in this case you can gain a trick by ruffing in either hand. If you ruff with the seven or the 10, you will still have four tricks remaining.

Note that you would not gain two tricks by ruffing with the seven and the 10. You must ruff twice in the same hand to gain two tricks.

 Lesson 2Q Main Top Using Your Trumps

## The Ruffing Rule

Examples 1 and 2 illustrate the most important principle of ruffing, which can be stated as a rule:

To gain a trick by ruffing, you must ruff in the hand with fewer or equal trumps.

Poor guy. If only he had come to this lesson.

Let’s see how this rule affects the play of the following deals.

 3. 8 5 3 2 Trick Lead 2nd 3rd 4th A 9 6 1. W Q 2 7 A 7 2 2. S 3! 6 7 9 Q J 10 2 3. E Q 3 2 A Q J 10 4 K 9 7 6 4. N 2 10 Q A 8 2 Q J 10 5. W 8 9 10 K A 8 6 K J 10 9 6. S A! 5 2 3 8 7 6 5 9 3 7. S K 6 10 9 A 8. S 4 7 J J K 7 5 4 3 Win the rest Q 5 4 3 4 South A K 4

Before you play a card you should count your tricks. You expect to win four trump tricks assuming a normal 3-2 trump break (you must lose one of the five), four club tricks and one spade trick — nine tricks. Where will you get one more?

The answer is from ruffing, but not by ruffing spades. You must maneuver to ruff a diamond in dummy, the hand which has fewer trumps. To do this you must first lose two diamond tricks.

After winning the A, you should not draw trumps. Lead the 3; assume East wins and leads the Q (good defense). Win the A and lose another diamond; then win the K. You are now in a position to ruff a diamond, but not just yet.

Since there is only one high trump outstanding, start leading your clubs. If East ruffs the third club lead, dummy will have a trump left to ruff a diamond and allow you to cash the last club winner.

 4. J 10 9 6 Trick Lead 2nd 3rd 4th K 7 6 2 1. W J 4 3 K A 4 2. S K 5! 6 3 J 5 4 3. S A! 3 2 5 A 7 5 4 3 4. S 4 8 K 9 J 8 3 Q 10 9 5 5. N 4 8 A 6 J 10 9 Q 7 6 5 3 6. S 2 9 A 5 K 10 9 6 Q 8 7. N 6 10 8! J K Q 8 2 8. S 8 10 9 6 A 4 9. N 7 Q Q! A K 8 2 Lose 2 more tricks 4 South A 7 3 2

You count three sure spade winners, two top hearts, two top diamonds and one club — eight tricks in all. It is tempting to ruff a diamond in dummy, but that only gains one trick. To gain two tricks you must ruff twice in one hand, and this can only be done by ruffing hearts in your hand.

Win the K and lead the K (it is safe to lead trumps once). If West ducks (a good play) stop leading trumps. Win the A, K, A and A (the last two not crucial) then ruff a heart with the 8. Ruff a diamond then ruff dummy’s last heart with the Q. Your contract is assured.

 5. 3 Trick Lead 2nd 3rd 4th A K 7 3 1. W K 2 7 A Q 10 8 5 4 2. S A! 5 3 2 8 3 2 3. S 4 8 8 6 Q 10 8 5 K 9 6 2 4. N 4 3 A 2 9 6 J 10 8 5 2 5. S 7 10 10 9 7 6 2 3 6. N 5 2 J 6 K Q 10 6 J 9 7 7. S J Q Q K A J 7 4 8. N 3 5 Q 6 Q 4 9. S K 7 3 9 A K J 9 10. S 9 6 8 J 6 South A 5 4 Lose the last trick

You count five diamonds, three hearts, one spade and one club — 10 tricks. The only way to gain two more tricks is to ruff spades, but this requires three ruffs. The first ruff will not gain because dummy has longer trumps. The second and third ruffs, however, each gain a trick because dummy will then have equal or fewer trumps.

Win the A, cash the A and ruff a spade with the 8 (just in case). Lead the 4 to your ace and ruff a second spade with the 10. Lead the 5 to your jack and ruff the last spade. Finally, return to the Q and lead your remaining trumps.

 Lesson 2Q Main Top Using Your Trumps

© 2012 Richard Pavlicek