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Subj:   Bridge Challenge #7 (S512c)
From Chapter 7 - "Hocus-Pocus with the Trump Suit", page 110

From the book Winning Declarer Play
by Dorothy Truscott
Published in 1969 by Harper and Row

 West S - Q J 4 H - 5 D - J 10 9 8 C - J 10 9 3 2 North S - A K 8 6 5 2 H - K 8 D - A 7 6 C - A K South S - 7 3 H - A Q 10 7 6 4 D - K Q 2 C - 5 4 East S - 10 9 H - J 9 3 2 D - 5 4 3 C - Q 8 7 6

The contract is 7 Hearts in the south and the opening lead is the
jack of diamonds.

Declarer wins the opening lead and cashes the king and ace of trumps, revealing the bad news.  East apparently has a sure trump trick because there are no more hearts in the dummy with which to finesse.  An inexperienced player might give up at this point and settle for down one.  However, an experienced declarer knows that East will very likely be subject to a trump coup, which is just as effective as a finesse and much more elegant.

He cashes the A K of spades and ruffs a spade.  He returns to dummy with a club and ruffs another spade.  Now back to dummy with the other club to run spades.  If East ruffs at any time, declarer overruffs and claims the balance.  If East doesn't ruff, declarer throws away his diamonds.  With only two cards left the situation is:

 West S -  H -  D - 10 9 C - North S -  H -  D - A 7 C -  South S -  H - Q 10 D -  C - East S -  H - J 9 D -  C -

Dummy leads a diamond, and East's natural trump trick vanishes into thin air.

Isn't that artistic?  And, it's not actually difficult if declarer keeps in mind one essential detail: A trump coup will not work unless declarer has the same number of trumps remaining as his opponent.  In this case, South starts with six trumps, and east starts with four.  Therefore, to get down to East's length, South has to shorten himself twice by ruffing two spades.

On this hand many declarers would fall into the trap of ruffing only one spade.  The spades are established after one ruff, and it does seem extravagant to ruff dummy's winners.  Furthermore, it goes against the grain to trump unnecessarily in the long hand.  So, they would discard on the spades and leave themselves with three trumps instead of two.  The last three cards would be:

 West S -  H -  D - 10 9 C - J North S -  H -  D - A 7 C - K South S -  H - Q 10 7 D -  C - East S -  H - J 9 D -  C - Q

Whatever dummy leads, East discards the club and declarer is forced to ruff.  This puts the lead in the South hand and spoils the whole project.

So, even if dummy's spades on this hand were A K Q J 10 9, declarer must grit his teeth and ruff two of them.  This process of shortening one's trump holding often requires a good many entries to dummy.  Declarer must learn to look ahead in order to make full use of these entries when there is the possibility of a coup in the offing.

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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.

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