THE toughest question you will routinely face as declarer is when to draw trumps. You probably learned to draw trumps as your first urgent priority but a few years’ experience may have mellowed that approach. Now you probably draw trumps only when there is nothing else pressing to do. Still, it remains your most difficult question.
On deal one you play four spades from South. West leads the four of diamonds, his partner’s suit. How do you play?
Making four spades will be no problem so long as you can play the spades for only one loser. The way to play spades is to lead them from dummy. Thinking along these lines, declarer grabbed the king of diamonds in dummy at trick one and pulled a trump. But it didn’t work out.
East, perforce, won the ace of spades and returned the queen of diamonds. Declarer played his ace but he was a spent force when West was able to trump. Later East got on lead with the queen of clubs and cashed the jack of diamonds for one down.
Bad luck, the mutter went around. ‘‘ Yes,’’ said declarer, inspired by the sympathy. ‘‘ I drew trumps as quickly as I could.’’ But in the end that was his failing.
Declarer has to stop the defenders from trumping his diamond winner. The way to do this was to win the ace of diamonds in hand at trick one, then cross to the king of hearts (the shortest suit) to start spades. West
— pass North 1 2 East 1 pass South 1 4
Once again, East takes the ace and plays a diamond, but the difference is that West can no longer trump one of the diamond honours.
On deal two you are in seven spades on a club lead. You win the ace in dummy, but what do you play at trick two?
It is tempting to get on with the trumps but it will cost you your grand slam.
Once you discover the bad trump break you will be unable to do anything about it.
The winning play is to trump a club at trick two. Now when the bad trump break comes to light you can do something about it. You cross to the jack of hearts and play a trump to the 10 and king. Ace of hearts and a heart to the king is followed by another club ruff. Then a diamond to the king and a third club ruff and finally a diamond to the ace. The lead is in dummy and all declarer has is Q 9 sitting over East’s J 4. Paul Marston