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About Me

H. Anthony Medley is an Attorney, an MPAA-accredited film critic, and author of Learn to Play Bridge Like A Boss,Sweaty Palms: The Neglected Art of Being Interviewed, and UCLA Basketball: The Real Story. He is a Silver Life Master and an ACBL-accredited Director and the author of a bridge column for a Los Angeles newspaper.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Use a Crossruff to Overcome a Bad Trump Split

Can you make 7 Diamonds with this deal from an ACBL-sanctioned game several years ago? I was sitting East and my partner, an advanced player, was West.


West                         East
2                            AQJT9
AK7                         65
QJT7                       AK54
AKQ98                     63


 South       West          North         East
                                  P                 1S
P              2C             P                 2D
P              2H*           P                 2S
P              3D            P                  4D
P              4N            P                  5C**
P              5N            P                  6C***
P              7D!           All Pass

 *   Fourth Suit Forcing. This means that partner must take another bid. She cannot pass. Some people play that Fourth Suit Forcing is a game force, which means that neither can pass until game is bid.

** Roman Key Card Blackwood, 0 or 3 key cards. This is an extension of Blackwood where, in addition to the four aces, the trump king is also a key card, so if you hold 2 aces and the king of trump (which I did), you respond with 5C which shows three key cards. The responses to a bid of 4N are as follows:

5C       0 or 3 key cards
5D       1 or 4 key cards
5H       2 key cards without the trump queen
5S        2 key cards with the trump queen

*** No kings. Since the trump king is a key card, it is not included in this response.

 Opening lead: ten of Hearts

The hand is relatively cold for 6N, but only one pair in this game was in 6N. Some were in 6D, making 6. My partner showed admirable confidence in me when he put me in 7D even though he knew I didn’t have the king of spades and he only had one spade for me to make a finesse. Also, it turned out that everything shaped up wrong. Clubs didn’t split, the king of spades was offside, and there was a horrible 4-1 trump split. Can you make 7D?

I took the ace of hearts and led a low diamond to my king, then another low diamond to the ten. North discarded the 4 of spades, so I got the bad news on the trump split . I started clubs and South discarded the 4 and 10, so I figured that clubs split badly and that the king of spades was offside. I took the ace of spades and started a ruffing finesse sequence with the queen. South covered and I ruffed. I played the king of hearts and ruffed a heart. That left me with the following holding:


West                         East
Q                            A


Even though south has two trump to my one in each hand, the hand is over. I led the two spades and sluffed two clubs, leaving me with a spade and the trump ace in my hand and a club and the trump queen on the board. So I trumped the spade with my queen and trumped the club with the ace, a high cross ruff that smothered South’s two trumps, making 7 diamonds.

Paradoxically, the only way it can make is if the spade king is offside. Otherwise the ruffing finesse would not work.

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