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November 13, 1999
Short Hand vs Long Hand and Accept What You Know to be True

This brief is an excerpt from an article that first appeared in Issue #2 (Sep/Oct 1994) of The Bridge Companion.

Short Hand vs Long Hand

The value of the trump suit stems from the fact that it allows more ways to develop tricks. All the ways that are available in the no trump contract are also available in the trump contract. In addition, however, there are several more methods. One of those is trumping losers. Consider a hand where you are sitting South:

North
spade.gif (842 bytes)53
heart.gif (841 bytes)Q965
diamond.gif (837 bytes)K983
club.gif (841 bytes)AQ6
South
spade.gif (842 bytes)A84
heart.gif (841 bytes)AKJ87
diamond.gif (837 bytes)A6
club.gif (841 bytes)K53

Assume for a minute that you are in 6NT. Looks like you are going down as you have only 11 tricks without any hope for more (1 spade, 5 hearts, 2 diamonds, and 3 clubs). In a 6heart.gif (841 bytes) contract, however, you can make an additional trick by trumping one of your two spade losers in the dummy. You will have to first surrender a spade trick (this should be the only trick you lose) and then trump one in the dummy. Many beginners thinks that trumping a diamond in the South hand (cashing the diamond.gif (837 bytes)A, then the diamond.gif (837 bytes)K, and then trumping a diamond) will produce that extra trick, but it does not. Why not?

The reason is that you have already counted the 5 heart tricks in the South hand. Trumping a diamond does win a trick and it does get you to the South hand, but it does not develop an EXTRA trick (that is, a trick you did not have before).

To develop an EXTRA trick you must trump in the SHORT HAND as opposed to the LONG HAND. The short hand is the hand with the fewest number of trump. In the example hand, trumping a spade produces an extra trick because we are trumping in the short hand.

The other consideration to keep in mind when trumping a loser in the short hand (usually the dummy) is that you may be able to pull the missing trumps before trumping your loser or, you may have to trump your loser first, before pulling the opponent's little trumps. The key questions are:

The watch word is to pull trump (or as many as you can afford) before trumping losers in the dummy, if you can.

Look at the following hands. Try to answer the questions and determine if you can gain an extra trick by trumping a loser. Should you pull trump first?

Exercise

(1)

North
spade.gif (842 bytes)763
heart.gif (841 bytes)6
diamond.gif (837 bytes)Q9632
club.gif (841 bytes)A952
South
spade.gif (842 bytes)AK984
heart.gif (841 bytes)A742
diamond.gif (837 bytes)8
club.gif (841 bytes)J64

Contract: 2spade.gif (842 bytes)
Opening lead: diamond.gif (837 bytes)J

The opponents try two rounds of diamonds and you trump the second. How many tricks can you gain? Should you pull trump first?

(2)

North
spade.gif (842 bytes)QJ63
heart.gif (841 bytes)6
diamond.gif (837 bytes)J832
club.gif (841 bytes)9852
South
spade.gif (842 bytes)AK984
heart.gif (841 bytes)A74
diamond.gif (837 bytes)A5
club.gif (841 bytes)J43

Contract: 2spade.gif (842 bytes)
Opening lead: club.gif (841 bytes)K

The opponents lead four rounds of clubs (club.gif (841 bytes)A, club.gif (841 bytes)K, club.gif (841 bytes)Q, then the club.gif (841 bytes)10). Your trump the fourth while RHO discards a diamond. How many tricks can you gain? Should you pull trump first?

(3)

North
spade.gif (842 bytes)73
heart.gif (841 bytes)65
diamond.gif (837 bytes)A9632
club.gif (841 bytes)A952
South
spade.gif (842 bytes)AK984
heart.gif (841 bytes)A74
diamond.gif (837 bytes)85
club.gif (841 bytes)643

Contract: 2spade.gif (842 bytes)
Opening lead: diamond.gif (837 bytes)7

How many tricks can you gain? Should you pull trump first?

Answers

(1) You can make your contract if the spade suit splits as expected (3-2) and if you trump your heart losers in the dummy. You have seven losers (1 spade, 3 hearts, 1 diamond, and 2 clubs). Heart losers can be trumped in the dummy (two or three extra tricks depending on the heart division). You cannot afford to pull even one round of trump before trumping. You may need the trump ace as an entry to enable you to trump a second heart!

(2) On this hand you have six losers (0 spades, 2 hearts, 1 diamond, and 3 clubs). Once again you can trump both heart losers in the dummy (two extra tricks). In this case you can afford to pull two rounds of trump first. If both opponents follow to both rounds then all of the outstanding trumps are gone and you can safely trump hearts. If the suit breaks 3-1 you must leave the 1 trump outstanding until after you have trumped both hearts.

(3) Be glad no one led a trump! To be able to trump a heart (one extra trick) you must first surrender the lead in hearts. You cannot afford even a single round of trumps before doing so or the opponents will lead a second round of trumps upon gaining the lead, and you will have no more spades with which to trump hearts!

-----------------------------------------------------

Accept What You Know to be True

North
spade.gif (842 bytes)KJ86
heart.gif (841 bytes)AQJ
diamond.gif (837 bytes)9842
club.gif (841 bytes)72
South
spade.gif (842 bytes)AQ109543
heart.gif (841 bytes)
diamond.gif (837 bytes)AQ73
club.gif (841 bytes)AQ

 

West North East South
1club.gif (841 bytes) Double Pass 6spade.gif (842 bytes)
Pass Pass Pass

Opening lead is the spade.gif (842 bytes)2, East follows with the spade.gif (842 bytes)7. South has a remarkeable hand after a takeout double by partner. North’s double may be a bit light, but can you make the hand anyway?

It is clear from the bidding that West has all three missing kings. One hope might be that West holds the doubleton diamond.gif (837 bytes)K. Cash the heart.gif (841 bytes)A while discarding a small diamond. Trump both the heart.gif (841 bytes)Q and heart.gif (841 bytes)J of hearts in the South hand and then play the diamond.gif (837 bytes)A and a small diamond. West, if she started with diamond.gif (837 bytes)Kx, will be forced to win. Any card West exits will give South an additional winner (West has no spades and no diamonds). West will have to exit with either a club (into the club.gif (841 bytes)AQ) or with a heart (and give South the ability to trump in the North and discard the club.gif (841 bytes)Q).

As good as any approach you say?

There is a better way! A successful line if West has either two or THREE diamonds!

North
spade.gif (842 bytes)KJ86
heart.gif (841 bytes)AQJ
diamond.gif (837 bytes)9842
West club.gif (841 bytes)72 East
spade.gif (842 bytes)2 spade.gif (842 bytes)7
heart.gif (841 bytes)K1095 heart.gif (841 bytes)876432
diamond.gif (837 bytes)KJ10 diamond.gif (837 bytes)65
club.gif (841 bytes)KJ1098 South club.gif (841 bytes)6543
spade.gif (842 bytes)AQ109543
heart.gif (841 bytes)
diamond.gif (837 bytes)AQ73
club.gif (841 bytes)AQ


Win the opening lead in the North hand with the spade.gif (842 bytes)K. Cash the heart.gif (841 bytes)A and discard a small diamond. Lead the heart.gif (841 bytes)Q and discard another small diamond. West will win this trick but you will have established the heart.gif (841 bytes)J as a winner. West has no more trumps and cannot lead either a club or a diamond so will have to return a heart.

Win the heart.gif (841 bytes)J and discard the diamond.gif (837 bytes)Q. Play a diamond to the diamond.gif (837 bytes)A. Now use the three trumps as dummy entries to trump diamonds twice and to return to the established diamond.gif (837 bytes)9. You will discard the club.gif (841 bytes)Q on the diamond.gif (837 bytes)9.

Your twelve tricks are 7 spades, 2 hearts, 2 diamonds, and 1 club.

The lesson?

Use the information that you know to be true. In this example West must hold all three kings, so any finesse is a losing line.

Work to maximize your chances.

Thanks!
Gary King

1999 The Bridge Companion. All rights reserved.