Contract bridge: Bad trump split requires swerve to new plan
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Experts remain adaptable to changing circumstances. This week’s deal provided an opportunity to find a trump coup, a most satisfying strangulation of an awkward opponent.
North’s hand is too good for a Weak NT. Since 3NT failed all around the room, to play correctly in 4H is a chance for a great result. However, the 4-1 trump break scuppered many.
West leads three rounds of spades, South ruffing the last. Trumps start to be drawn. In defence, when holding four trumps to the master, it is almost always correct to win on the third round. That is East’s plan here: to take A♥ when dummy no longer holds any trumps, and then lead the fourth spade, forcing declarer to ruff with his final trump.
Top declarers countered this. When West shows out on the second round of trumps, South realises that the only hope now lies with East holding no fewer than two cards in each of the minor suits. Instead of playing a third trump, declarer now cashes two diamonds and begins to play off clubs.
On the fourth club, East is trapped: if he ruffs low, declarer over-ruffs and continues to play out winners until East takes A♥; if East ruffs high, declarer discards and later draws East’s last trump; if East discards, so does declarer until, eventually, the fifth club can be led, and East must trump before declarer. 4H making yielded a fine result.