Main     Column 7D31 by Richard Pavlicek    

Preserve Dummy’s Ruffing Power

Today’s deal, from a recent team game, brings to light a common bidding problem: How to make a game try in a competitive auction. South’s one-heart opening was raised to two, and East interfered with three clubs. If South now bid three hearts, it might be construed as competitive instead of an attempt to reach game — and so it should be. Therefore, South improvised with three diamonds.

4 H S A 6 2
H A 6 4
D J 6 2
C 9 6 4 2
Both Vul

West

Pass
Pass


North

2 H
4 H


East

3 C
All Pass


South
1 H
3 D
S Q 7 4 3
H J 9 7
D 8 7 5 4
C 8 5
Table S 10 9
H Q 2
D Q 10 9
C A K Q J 10 7
Lead: C 8 S K J 8 5
H K 10 8 5 3
D A K 3
C 3

The way to try for game in such instances is, if possible, to bid a new suit below the level of your first suit. This does not necessarily show a four-card suit; it merely states that you are interested in game and asks for partner’s help. (Any new suit bid after a raise is forcing.)

What should partner do? With a minimum raise, he should return to the agreed trump suit at the cheapest level. With a maximum raise, he may make any other bid. In this case North simply jumps to game in hearts since he has nothing more descriptive to say.

The defense began with two rounds of clubs, and declarer surveyed his chances. If trumps split three-two, he had eight easy tricks: four trumps and four side winners. The spade finesse was a prospect, and the fourth spade would be good if the suit broke three-three. Further, there was the possibility of ruffing the fourth spade in dummy; or if it were good, discarding a diamond and ruffing a diamond in dummy.

This analysis did not dictate an exact plan, but one thing was clear: To keep all the chances intact, declarer must preserve dummy’s ruffing power. The spade suit should be played before drawing two rounds of trumps, else West may cash a third round if the spade finesse loses.

After ruffing the second club, declarer led a heart to dummy, then a low spade to the jack and queen. West returned a diamond to South’s king (nothing mattered). Declarer won the heart king, three rounds of spades (note the eight-spot was good), diamond ace, then a diamond ruff to make his contract.

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© 4-23-1989 Richard Pavlicek