Challenge #2 (S506c)
From Chapter 4 - "How To Handle A Suit Contract", page 52
From the book Winning Declarer Play
The contract is 7 Hearts in the south and the opening lead is the queen of diamonds.
You have twelve tricks and have to find a thirteenth trick.
About half the time it's right to draw trumps first and half the time it isn't. There is no general rule. Declarer simply has to ask himself, "Is there anything that needs to be done before I draw trumps?"
Clearly the way to get the needed extra trick is to establish dummy's long spade suit. Accordingly you win the first trick with the diamond king, cash the ace and king of spades, and ruff a spade. If the spades had broken 3-3, your work would be over. But they don't, so you return to the dummy with the heart ten and ruff another spade. Now you draw all the trumps and get to dummy with the diamond ace to pitch your losing diamond on the fifth spade, which is now good.
This isn't difficult, but there are two points worth noting. First, you must win the opening lead in your hand, not in dummy. Entries to dummy are scarce, and the diamond ace must be preserved as a means of getting to the fifth spade once it is established.
Second, you must start to establish the spades before you draw the trumps, because the heart ten is needed as an entry to ruff the fourth spade. The inexperienced declarer tends to go wrong here. He has a compulsion to draw trumps first. Then he tries to establish the spades. If they break 4-2, which is normal, he winds up one entry short and goes down, If you ask him why he drew trumps before starting on the spades, he tells you he was afraid his ace or king of spades would get ruffed. Of course this is a completely unreasonable fear. If one opponent could ruff the first or second round of spades, it would mean the other opponent had started with five or six spades, and it would be impossible ever to establish dummy's fifth spade anyhow.
Plan your attack before you play
dummy's first card.
This is one example from Dorthy Truscott's book "Winning Declarer Play." Buy the book, read it, and rereat it a dozen times. I guarantee it will improve your bridge game.