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Turning Small Cards into Winning Tricks in Bridge

Whenever the dummy presents you with a five- or six-card side suit, you may have a chance to turn one or more of the small cards in that side suit into winning tricks. What you have to do is play the suit and keep playing the suit, trumping one or two of those small cards in your hand, until both opponents are void in the suit (in other words, they have no cards left in the suit).

To turn small cards in long suits into winning tricks, here’s what you need:

  • A five- or six-card side suit in the dummy with fewer than three cards in that suit in your hand.

  • A strong five- or six-card trump suit in your hand.

  • Entries to the dummy, which are high cards in the dummy either in the trump suit or in a side suit.

This image shows a hand in which the three needed requirements come into play, allowing you to establish the dummy’s side suit.

image0.jpg

You and your partner determine during the bidding that your trump suit is hearts, and you contract for ten tricks. West leads the ♠A.

If you need to take ten tricks, you can afford to lose three tricks. See whether you have more than three losers, and if you do, whether you can get rid of some of those losers.

Take a look at your loser count for this hand:

  • Hearts: No losers — hearts is a solid suit.

  • Diamonds: No losers and some potential to establish small cards in the suit.

  • Clubs: One loser, which is eventual rather than immediate. The loser is eventual, because the A allows you to control the suit, but your 8 is still a loser.

  • Spades: Three relatively small spades in your hand add up to three immediate losers because your partner also has three small spades. (Yes, the ♠J is an honor card, but because the opponents have the ♠AKQ, it has the value of a small card).

You need to win ten tricks, but you have four losers in your hand — one too many to make your contract. The potential answer to your club loser is that five-card diamond suit. You need to turn one of those little diamonds into a winning trick and then use that established diamond to discard your losing 8.

Playing the long suit to the bitter end

West begins by taking the first three spade tricks with the ♠AKQ, and then switches (smartly) to the K, driving out your A and turning your 8 into an immediate loser. Fortunately, you have the lead, and you also have a five-card diamond suit to work with. You want to establish the dummy’s long suit (make at least one of the small cards there into a winner), so you have to play the suit and keep playing it until both of your opponents run out of diamonds:

  1. Lead a low diamond to the ♦K in the dummy.

    Both of your opponents play low.

  2. Play the ♦A.

    Both of your opponents play low again. You remain with three little diamonds in the dummy; the opponents each have one diamond left.

  3. Lead a low diamond from the dummy and trump it with the ♥8.

    Each opponent has played his last diamond, and suddenly both remaining diamonds in the dummy are winning tricks! You’ve just set up a suit. But wait — you still have one more hurdle to clear.

Banishing your opponents’ trump cards

After you establish your small cards, you can’t use them until you draw all your opponents’ trumps. Your opponents have four hearts between their two hands. Your plan of attack is to lead hearts three times, removing each and every heart from your opponents’ hands.

Keep a high card in the dummy either in the trump suit or in a side suit so you can reach your established tricks after you’ve drawn trumps. You have only the ♥A as a way to reach those beautiful diamonds, so for heaven’s sake, don’t play the ♥A until the last possible moment.

You want to draw trumps, ending in the dummy:

  1. You play the ♥K.

    West plays the ♥4

  2. The dummy contributes the ♥2.

    East plays her only trump card, the ♥7.

  3. You take the trick and then continue by playing the ♥Q.

    West follows with the ♥5.

  4. You play the dummy’s ♥3.

    East discards a club. You take this trick, as well. West still has one heart left.

  5. You lead the ♥9.

    West plays the ♥6.

  6. The dummy plays the ♥A.

    East discards another club.

Congratulations! You’ve drawn trumps, ending in the dummy, where your two established diamonds are waiting to take tricks for you.

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