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Daily Bridge in New Zealand

      A “Cross” Ruffer!

A look today at playing a hand where you seem to have very few losers but on the other hand, not that many winners. The answer in many such cases is to make good use of the asset you do have, the trump suit.

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South Deals
None Vul
K J 8 7 3
A K J 5
J 10 8 2
   
N
W   E
S
   
 
A J 7 6 5 3
10 4
K Q 9 6 4
West North East South
      1 
Pass 2  Pass 3 
Pass 3  Pass 3 
Pass 5  All pass  

South did overbid their hand a little in the early stages (that 3Club-small bid) but North steered the partnership to a very sound contract. Well, it should be sound. West leads Heart-small5 which you cover with Heart-small7 and ruff East’s Heart-small9. Plan the play and decide what to lead at trick 2.

With voids in each other’s major suit, no-trumps is not an ideal place to be. 3NT could come to 9 tricks on the above deal but 11 tricks in clubs should be easier.

However, our declarer failed to make 11 tricks. They were a little unlucky in that both major suits broke badly but they rather ignored the basic principles of crossruffing.

What happened?

At trick 2, declarer played a trump to East’s ace with East returning a trump (they broke 2-2). Declarer won in hand to take a losing diamond finesse. East returned another diamond and South could discard two spades on high diamonds before ruffing a heart, cashing Spade-smallA and ruffing a spade. These cards remained with South needing all three tricks:

 
K 8
10
K 9 8
 
N
W   E
S
 
A 10 9
 
J 7
9

A heart ruff was followed by a spade ruff but trick 13 went to East’s Heart-smallA: one down.

The cross-ruff rules.

  • Count your tricks, especially your side-suit tricks.
  • Unless you are loaded with trumps, leave the opposition’s trumps outstanding.
  • Cash those side-suit winners and then
  • Embark on your cross-ruff.

There were three side suit winners, Spade-smallA and Diamond-smallAK. Therefore, South needed to score 8 trump tricks to make their contract.

These were the four hands.

 

South Deals
None Vul
K J 8 7 3
A K J 5
J 10 8 2
K 9 8 4 2
5 2
9 7 6 3
5 3
 
N
W   E
S
 
Q 10
A Q 10 9 6 4
Q 8 2
A 7
 
A J 7 6 5 3
10 4
K Q 9 6 4
West North East South
      1 
Pass 2  Pass 3 
Pass 3  Pass 3 
Pass 5  All pass  

So, ruff the heart, play Spade-smallA and ruff a spade and play Diamond-smallAK. Ruff a second heart and a second spade. East may overruff with Club-smallA and play a second trump which is potentially awkward for declarer who can win in dummy and ruff a low diamond. The Diamond-smallQ appears and after another spade ruff, declarer can play Diamond-smallJ on which East has to discard. Thus, the spade ruff which East denied declarer by drawing a second trump is recovered by the discard on Diamond-smallJ.

Three spades are ruffed and one is discarded. Having taken 10 tricks, declarer leads a heart off dummy and ruffs with Club-smallK with West having to throw Spade-smallK to make Club-small5 for the second defensive trick at trick 13.

If East did not overruff, they could prevent the discard on the Diamond-smallJ by ruffing with Club-small7 but South can make 4 trumps in dummy and 4 in their hand along with those three side-suit tricks to make their contract.

planning tips and tricks.jpg

In theory, taking the losing diamond finesse was not critical but along with the bad spade break it was. Drawing trumps and taking the diamond finesse were not approaches South should have taken. Remember the basic cross-ruffing rules and you should be safe most of the time, and not "cross" at the end of the board. 

REDS and BLACKS

 

     
West Deals
N-S Vul
 
N
W   E
S
   
 
10 9 7 6 5
4
A 9
A K 9 7 5
West North East South
1  2 NT Pass ?

1Club-small is 4+ clubs and 2NT is Michaels style, 10+hcp with the red suits. What’s your fancy?

Richard Solomon



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