THE NEA BRIDGE by Phillip Alder
HOW SOON SHOULD YOU DRAW TRUMPS?
Rupert Murdoch said, “The world is changing very fast. Big will not beat small anymore. It will be the fast beating the slow.”
Not necessarily at the bridge table, though. Sometimes, for example, drawing trumps early will lose a contract. And, of course, occasionally not drawing trumps soon enough can be fatal.
Which applies in this deal? South is in four spades, and West leads the heart king.
Note North’s four-spade rebid. It promises at least four-card support and denies a first- or second-round control. South is implying that he has (at least) nine winners when he opens two clubs and rebids two spades. North hopes that his trumps will provide a 10th trick. (Yes, South’s hand is a minimum. Some experts would rebid two no-trump to limit the hand. But that would not work well here, because North would surely pass, and the contract would fail.)
Given that the trumps are 3-1, South has five losers: one spade, one heart, one diamond and two clubs. The black-suit losers are unavoidable, so declarer must ruff his low red-suit cards in the dummy.
The right play is to win the first trick, to cash exactly one top trump, then to play off the three top diamonds, discarding dummy’s remaining heart. Next, South ruffs the heart seven in the dummy, returns to his hand with a trump, and ruffs his diamond five — mission accomplished.
Note that if declarer begins with both of his top trumps, he will be stranded in the dummy after the first ruff. West can get in with his club ace and draw dummy’s last trump, leaving South with a fourth loser.