Jeff Lehman

Tapping the short hand

On this hand from Thursday morning’s club game, declarer’s side has nice 5-2 fits in each major suit, each of the two suits splitting 3-3.  Which major suit contract makes more tricks: the one where the tap suit is shortening the hand with a two card holding in trump, or the one where the tap suit is shortening the hand with a five card holding in trump?

Oddly enough, the defense can take more tricks against the 5-2 fit where the short trump hand is tapped than against the 5-2 fit where the long suit is tapped.


Dealer: N – #21
Vul:  NS

Some players might have chosen to open the South hand in third chair with weak 2, but at my table South chose to open 1.  Passed hand North replied 2 and that became the final contract.

I led the K and partner encouraged.

The pointed suits in dummy dissuaded me from continuing diamonds.  Hoping to produce whatever trump tricks I can by forcing dummy to ruff twice – the second time with the K – I switched to the A at Trick 2.  Partner encouraged and a second club was ruffed with the 9.  Declarer played a second round of diamonds and I won that trick and continued a third club, ruffed with dummy’s K.  A third diamond was ruffed by declarer as each of us followed suit.  Declarer unsuccessfully finessed the Q and partner’s K was our fourth trick.  Partner played a high club and won our fifth trick.  With the K having been used for a ruff, my J stood as the later game-setting trick.

Meanwhile, with every suit splitting evenly, the opponents would have experienced no difficulty making eight tricks in spades, even when repeated club leads would cause the long hand to be shortened. 

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