Connect with friends; sharpen the grey cells.

Lotus club, Ernakulam has been patronising the game of bridge for well over eighty years now. It is a pleasure to participate in their annual tournament, for the hospitality is excellent and the playing conditions ideal. Enjoy today’s deal from the fifth round of the Swiss league.

Contract: 7S by south. West leads the HA. Plan the play.

Bidding comment: Neither side wanting the other to declare, NS finally bought the contract at 7S at both the tables.

Analysis: If the lead had been a trump, declarer’s best play would be to remove trumps, cash CA, and play a club towards the K-J in hand. If east follows with small, the percentage play would be to finesse the jack.

The ruff and discard on the opening lead has improved your chances to a near certainty. How?

How the play went: In the open room, declarer discarded a diamond from dummy and ruffed in hand. He drew trumps with the A-K, and thinking he has only a five-card suit in clubs, cashed the CA and finessed the club jack. The finesse lost and he went down. If he had realised he had a six-bagger in clubs, he would have ruffed out the suit to chalk up the grand.

In the closed room, declarer ruffed in dummy and discarded a diamond from hand. He is forced to take the club finesse now. Not counting his tricks, he cashed the A-K in clubs and much to his delight west followed with the queen and he romped home.

The complete hands were:

Discussion: As you would have observed, the open room player did the right thing at trick one... but faltered at the finish because he had not carefully observed his club length.

The closed room player made a wrong choice of ruffing in dummy at trick one and followed it with a non-percentage play in clubs... but luck smiled on him and he gained 20 IMPs.

Taking the ruff in hand allows you score thirteen tricks without a problem as long as clubs are 3-2, or if 4-1 with stiff queen.

The general principle is to take a ruff in the short hand, for it adds to the kitty. As Ely Culbertson put it so elegantly 100 years ago, “A ruff in the long hand is worth no extra trick.”

If east had been dealt Q-T-x in clubs, the open room player would have succeeded whereas the closed room player would have failed for adopting a very poor line of play.

It would have led to a swing of 40 IMPs!

Play out the deal with a deck of cards to understand the correct play.

E-mail: ls4bridge@gmail.com

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