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Bridge 6/27

Ruff in the short, not in the long

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    This week, we are looking at eliminating losers in suit contracts. When the dummy is displayed, assuming it does not contain more trumps than your hand, look at your 13 cards and take dummy's high cards into account. How many losers do you have in this deal? Then, how many winners can you see? And what would you do after West leads the spade jack?
    The bidding is straightforward, North's two-heart raise promising 6-9 support points (high-card points plus short-suit points) with three or more hearts.
    You have no spade losers, no heart losers, one or two diamond losers (here, two), and you have two club losers — neither your club five nor club two is covered by an honor on the board.
    You have nine winners: two spades, six hearts and one club.
    Some of my students like to take both spade winners, enter dummy with a trump, and ruff the last spade in their hand. This serves no purpose. It just consumes one of the trump tricks already counted.     But (almost) any time you can ruff a loser in the shorter trump hand, that will give you an extra trick. Here, you will still have six winning hearts in your hand. The ruff on the board will produce a seventh trump trick. So, after winning the first trick, cash your club ace and play another club.
    Let's suppose East returns a trump, which is usually the right defense when declarer is planning ruffs in the dummy. Win in your hand, ruff your last club in the dummy, cash dummy's high heart, and play a diamond in an unsuccessful attempt at an overtrick.
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