Source: IBPA Column Service Jan 2022

Tim Bourke
Tim Bourke

**Source: wikipedia: Tim Bourke “is an Australian bridge player and writer. His joint project with Justin Corfield “the Art of Declarer Play” won the International Bridge Press Book of the Year award in 2014.

IMPs Dealer South. Both Vul

J 8 4
3
A 10 9 6 4 3
9 5 4
A K 10 9 6
9 7 6
K Q J
A 6
West North East South
1
2 2 3 4
Pass Pass Pass

As declarer, one of the most annoying things is to lose control of the trump suit. Avoiding this fate often boils down to asking oneself the question, “What would happen if trumps break in such a way that the contract is at risk?” Using that approach would have saved declarer on this deal.

How would you play four spades when West leads the two of diamonds?

Suppose you win the diamond lead in hand and draw one round of trumps with the ace. On the above layout the game can no longer be made!

Doubtless you will continue with the king of trumps. If trumps had broken 3-2, you could then return to the diamond suit, using dummy’s jack of trumps as an eventual entry to the remaining diamonds (after a defender ruffs at some stage with the queen). Alas, with trumps breaking 4-1 there is no way to avoid the loss of four tricks. Suppose instead that you play a heart after cashing one round of trumps. East will win and return a diamond. After ruffing the return West will exit with the king of clubs, which will set up a club winner as the fourth trick for the defenders, to go with West’s trump queen.

Since the contract would be easy if trumps break 3-2, you should assume a 4-1 trump break and direct your efforts to countering that. Lead a low trump at trick two!

What can the defenders do now?

If West wins with the queen and crosses to partner’s hand with a heart to receive a diamond ruff, you will be able to draw trumps when you regain the lead. If instead West ducks the first round of trumps, you can duck another round of trumps. West has to win this round and can do nothing to harm you. Whether he plays a club, or two rounds of hearts to force dummy to ruff, you will be able to draw his remaining trumps and run the diamond suit.

It’s an important technique to remember. When you can afford to lose a trump trick, lose the trick at a time when the defenders can do you no damage. On this deal, it would be dangerous to lose a late trump trick because dummy will then have no trumps left to protect against heart plays.

Source: Probabilities in bridge by Ricardo Argerich “With five cards missing, the chances of finding the suit split 4-1 is 28,26%. When an honor is missing we will find it fourth 22.60% of the time”

The complete deal:

J 8 4
3
A 10 9 6 4 3
9 5 4
Q 7 5 2
K J 10 5 4 2
2
K Q
3
A Q 8
8 7 5
J 10 8 7 3 2
A K 10 9 6
9 7 6
K Q J
A 6

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