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There is a widespread belief among the novices and even some intermediate players that, in suit contract, declarer should draw trumps the moment he obtains the lead. Nothing can be more absurd than this, for there may be any number of reasons for which the declarer may want to delay the play of trumps. Take the case below from a recent matchpoint event.
Contract: 6S by south. West leads the DJ. Plan the play.
Bidding Comments: North's 2C bid is the fourth- suit, suggesting a good 12+hcp and forcing to game. When south described his 4-1-4-4 type of hand by his 3C bid, north had no difficulty in bidding the slam.
How the play went: The majority of declarers won the opening lead in dummy, drew trumps in three rounds, and played the club jack and let it ride. West won and returned another club. When diamonds divide 4-2, they fell short by a trick.
A few other declarers won the opening lead in dummy, cashed the heart ace, ruffed a heart, cashed spade king and spade ace, ruffed one more heart, crossed to dummy in diamond, and removed the last trump. When they cashed the diamond king they found the suit divide 4-2. They ruffed the fourth diamond and tried the club finesse. West won and cashed a heart to defeat the contract.
Yes, I agree with you that the declarers botched up the play. How would you have played?
Play: You should win the opening lead in dummy and play the club jack immediately and let it ride. Let us say west wins and exits in another diamond. You win the trick in dummy again, cash heart ace, ruff a heart, cash spade king, play a spade to dummy's ace, ruff another heart, cash club ace, ruff a club, draw the last trump to discard the losing diamond in your hand, and claim.
The complete hands are:
Discussion: There were many interesting points in the play as well as bidding:
The deal illustrates that in trump contracts it may be more important to set up side-suit tricks first than to draw trumps or ruff losers.
Where was the hurry to draw trumps? Declarers were guilty of not putting the trumps to use, when they had shortage in hearts in their hands.
If CJ is covered by the king, you should still ruff two hearts in hand to ensure the contract. You may end up making an overtrick if diamonds behave.
When opener raises the fourth suit, he suggests a two-honour to four cards in the fourth suit! If he has only a single honour, SK-J-x-x H x DK-J-x-x CA-x-x-x, he should avoid raising the fourth suit and bid 2NT instead.
North would have bid 4S at his second turn if his hand were in the 12-14 hcp range with 4-card spade support: SA-x-x-x HA-J-10-x DA-x C x-x-x, his correct bid is 4S.
The important thing is that north didn't rule out slam with his hand and correctly employed the fourth-suit. Great bidding!
Play out the deal using a deck of cards. You will understand and appreciate the deal better.