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Ruff Weather


On each contract below, West leads the C 2 which you expect from the bidding is a singleton. Can you cope with the impending ruff? Decide your line of play.

1. 4 H by South

S 8 7 2
H Q J 3
D Q 8 4 3 2
C K 3
Lead: C 2Table
S J 3
H A K 10 9 8
D A
C A 7 6 5 4


Answer

You have 8 sure tricks, and you would like to ruff two or three clubs in dummy. If you play the hand routinely, West will ruff your second club winner and return a trump to leave you a trick short. Try it and see.

The solution is not to let West ruff one of your winners. Win the C K then duck the second round of clubs. Regardless of the return, you will be able to ruff your two remaining low clubs in dummy. You will not win your C A until you have drawn all of West’s trumps.

2. 6 H by South

S 3 2
H 9 6 5
D A Q 2
C K 10 8 5 4
Lead: C 2Table
S A K Q
H K Q J 10 8 7
D K
C A Q 3


Answer

You have plenty of winners, but it is easy to see how you could fail. As soon as you lead a trump, East may win and give his partner a club ruff. The only way to prevent this is to get rid of the clubs in your hand. Do not lead trumps yet!

First unblock the D K and cash the S A-K. To reach dummy you must ruff the third spade even though it is good. Now cash the top diamonds and discard your two remaining clubs. At this point you have only trumps left, so you can concede the H A and claim.

3. 4 H by South

S 6 3 2
H K 9 6 5
D A 7 2
C J 10 4
Lead: C 2Table
S K 10
H Q J 10 8 7
D K 3
C A K Q 3


Answer

Here there is no way to prevent the club ruff (if East has an entry), but this does not necessarily mean you will fail. What you would like to do is increase your chances to make the contract after West gets his ruff.

The critical play is to cash your top diamonds and ruff a diamond before you lead trumps. Assume East wins the H A and gives his partner a ruff. If West started with two trumps, he will have no safe exit and you will succeed even if the S A is behind your king.

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© 2013 Richard Pavlicek