Trick Two is Too Late to Start Thinking

With neither side vulnerable, you are in fourth seat holding:

♠A K Q 8 4   9   A 9 7 4   ♣A J 10.

After three passes, you open 1♠. Partner raises to 2♠ (the opponents are silent) and you bid 4♠, ending the bidding.
West leads the ♣3, and this is what you see:

♠ 10 9 2
A Q J 7 6 3
8 5
♣ Q 5

♠ A K Q 8 4
9
A 9 7 4
♣ A J 10

You play the ♣Q from dummy, which wins. What is your plan now? Should you draw trumps or are there losers to eliminate first?

On this deal, declarer should not draw trumps. She needs to trump losers from her hand in the dummy first. Specifically, she needs to trump one club and two diamonds from her hand in the dummy if possible. Using dummy’s trumps for these losers is the correct plan to make the contract and take as many tricks as possible.

So at trick two, declarer plays a diamond from the dummy and ducks, getting ready to trump in the dummy later. West wins the 10, and returns a diamond. This isn’t the best defense. A trump would be better to cut down the number of times you can ruff losers in dummy, but this defender was unduly worried about finessing her partner in trumps.

Declarer wins the A and trumps a diamond. She then plays a club to her ace, and trumps a club. Next she plays the A in dummy, and trumps a heart in her hand. Then she uses dummy’s remaining ♠10 to trump her fourth diamond, which is overruffed by West’s ♠J. Declarer now has all the remaining high cards to win the rest of the tricks.

Success! Eleven tricks for thoughtful play earns declarer a top score on the board in duplicate, even though West held four trumps. Thinking at trick one enables declarer to use all her trumps in the dummy to ruff the losers in her hand: one club and two diamonds, one of which gets overruffed by the opponent. Declarer loses just one diamond and one overruff by West’s ♠J.
Here is the full deal:

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

Joan Dziekanski