Trick Two is Too Late to Start Thinking

You hold the following hand:

♠9   K Q 10 4   10 9 5 2   ♣A K Q 10.

You open 1. The auction proceeds:

You LHO Partner RHO
1 1♠ Dbl Pass
3 Dbl 4 All Pass

Your LHO leads the 4, and your partner puts down the dummy:

♠ K 8 6 4
A J 9 5
A Q 8
♣ 5 3

♠ 9
K Q 10 4
10 9 5 2
♣ A K Q 10

What is your plan at trick one? The bidding and the cards guide your plan. Because your LHO has bid spades and made a takeout double on the three level, you expect hearts will not break evenly. In addition, the *♠K in dummy should be a good way to discard one of the losers from your hand. The bidding should guided your thoughts.

Now the cards. Notice that you hold all the high hearts in the two hands. Also notice that your hand contains one possible club loser, because your LHO is marked with long clubs from the bidding. And because LHO almost certainly holds the ♠A for his bidding, the dummy contains a spade winner, the ♠K. Together, these facts suggest that you should plan to crossruff the hand.

Before crossruffing, however, the guiding principle is to first play your side winners before one of the opponents can discard in these suits. So your very first play should be getting to your hand as soon as possible to lead a spade toward dummy’s king. Then you will cash your winners in each suit, and cross ruff the remaining cards.

At trick one, you call for dummy’s Q, and as expected, it wins. LHO was an overwhelming favorite to hold the K, based on the auction. Next play a club to the ace in your hand, and then play a spade toward dummy’s king. Leftie wins the ♠A and returns a low diamond. You win the A in dummy, with rightie playing the jack, and then cash the ♠K, discarding a diamond from your hand.

Next, trump a spade in your hand and play the ♣K Q (both opponents following low), discarding a diamond from the dummy. Then you can ruff your last diamond with dummy’s 9, trump a spade from dummy, and ruff your last club with dummy’s J.

For the last two tricks, play the A in dummy and then a heart to your king. Meanwhile, your RHO will be forced to play low hearts under your high hearts. You make 12 tricks even though RHO had five trumps.

You can make two overtricks on this deal by listening to the bidding and playing accordingly. Remember the principle that establishing and playing your winners in your side suits should proceed crossruffing the hand so that your opponents cannot discard the suits before you cash your winners!

Here is the full deal:

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

Joan Dziekanski