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Consider the discard 

  Patrick Jourdain (Wales)

Born in 1942, Patrick Jourdain, of Cardiff is a professional bridge journalist and teacher. He is Wales 's most successful player, having represented that country more than fifty times in Camrose matches. He is perhaps best known as editor of the IBPA ( International Bridge Press Association) Bulletin, though he is also bridge correspondent of the Daily Telegraph. He was President of the British Bridge League from 1995-7.

 

YOU discover during an auction that your partnership has a 5-4 fit in one suit, and a 4-4 fit in another. Which should you select as trumps at, say, the slam level?

Traditional advice says choose the 4-4 fit: a ruff in either hand may gain a trick, whereas with the 5-4 fit the ruff only gains if taken in the short trump hand.

But this advice directs players' attention to the wrong priority. Instead of thinking about the ruff, or blindly assuming that the 4-4 fit is better, you should concentrate on whether the discard on the long suit will prove useful when it is not trumps.

 

To illustrate the point, suppose that you pick up the following hand:

K Q 6 5 2

K Q 5 2

 K Q J

 8

You open One Spade. Partner responds a Jacoby 2NT. showing game values with four card support. Is there any reason to seek another fit ?

No. If partner has four hearts there is a club ruff,  but it will not help as you have nothing useful to discard on the fifth spade. Suppose partner has

A 8 4 3

A 8 4 3

A 4

Q 6 5

 

then Six Spades is superior to Six Hearts because on the third diamond you can discard a heart and not worry about a 4-1 heart break. By contrast, suppose your hand is:

K Q 6 5 2

K Q 5 2

A 7 5

8

Again, the auction starts: 1-2NT. Now hearts can gain as trumps. A losing diamond may go on the fifth spade. If dummy has:

A 8 4 3

A 8 4 3

K 4 2

6 5

Six Hearts is excellent and Six Spades has no chance.

 

THE Jacoby 2NT is a popular convention, but many players follow it up with highly artificial sequences which prevent them locating a different trump fit. This deal arose in the 1991 British Trials:

 

South Dealer

 K Q 9 6

 

 

 

NS Vulnerable

 K 8 4 3

 

 

 

 

 J 5

 

 

 

 

 K 7 4

 

 

 

 

 

           N

 

 

8 7

 

 

 J

 7 5

 

W                    E

J 9 23

 K Q 6 4 3

 

 

9 8 7 2

 A Q 10 5

 

 

 J 9 6 3 2 

 

 

 

            S

 

 

 

 

 A 10 5 4 3 2

 

 

 

 

 A Q 10 6

 

 

 

 

 A 10

 

 

 

 

 8

 

 

 

 

At every table bar one, spades were

The exception was

N

S

1

2NT

3

4 

4NT 

5

6

NO

 

2NT was game-going, with spade support, Three Hearts and Four Hearts were natural, 4NT was Roman Key Card Blackwood with hearts as trumps (though it would have been helpful if both major-suit kings had counted).

In the auction given North was known not to hold the ace of clubs as he would have shown it with a cue-bid over Three Hearts. (The cue agrees hearts, as without heart support North's first move would be to bid Three Spades.) Five Diamonds showed the king of hearts, without reference to the king of spades.

Relying on the spades to run, South bid Six Hearts which proved to be an easy contract. After trumps were drawn, dummy's diamonds went away on the spades, and a minor-suit ruff was the twelfth trick.

Now, suppose South's hand had been:

A 10 5 4 3 2

A Q 7 6

A K

8


If the auction starts 1 -2NT, it is pointless to suggest hearts as trumps. The only useful discard on the spades would be a heart. With the same dummy Six Spades would be superior to Six Hearts because you can survive a 4-1 heart break by setting up the king of clubs as the twelfth trick.

 

 

THIS deal, written up by Alan Truscott, won the IBPA Romex Award in 1990-1 for the Best Bid Hand:

 

South Dealer

 A Q 8 6 5 2

 

 

 

Game All

5

 

 

 

 

A K 7 6

 

 

 

 

 10 4

 

 

 

 

 

           N

 

 

-

 

 

J 4 3

9 8 7 6 4 3

 

W                    E

K Q 10

J  5

 

 

10 9 2

K 9 5 3 2

 

 

 Q J 8 

 

 

 

            S

 

 

 

 

K 10 9 7

 

 

 

 

A J 2

 

 

 

 

Q 8 4 3

 

 

 

 

 A 6

 

 

 

 

 

 Brian Glubok (South) and Edgar Kaplan (North) bid unopposed:

 

S

N

1

2

3

4

5NT

6

7 

 

 

Six Clubs showed two of the top three honours in diamonds.

Glubok knew they had at least nine spades but could see that his club loser would go on the fifth spade (or he could discard two hearts if partner's shape was 6-2-4-1). So he wisely selected diamonds as trumps and was rewarded when Seven Diamonds proved easy and Seven Spades unmakeable.

But suppose South's hand had been:

 

K 10 9 7

K Q 2

Q 8 4 3

A K

 

After the same start, 1-2-3-4, South can see that the only useful discard partner's spades is a diamond (the suit n break 4-1). With the same North hand as before, Six Spades (or 6NT) would be be than Six Diamonds.

 

My BOLS bridge tip is:

When choosing between trump suits, imagine running the long suit, and ask what you expect to throw from the other hand. The answer will often tell you which trump suit will serve you best.

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