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Weakened Trumps

A K J 6
9 8 3 2
Q 3
8 6 4
8 7 3
A K J 6 4
8 7 4
Q 10
10 9 5 2
J 9 5 2
A K J 3
Q 4
Q 10 5
A K 10 6
9 7 5 2


East/West have four clubs and three hearts off the top, while North/South have four spades and four diamonds off the top.


If West is on lead (East on lead is easier), East overtakes the first club, and then leads a heart, West taking three hearts. Then East overtakes another club, cashes a third club, then, on the fourth club, promotes a trump trick in his hand.
If North/South are on lead, they draw trumps immediately then take four diamonds.


If North/South are on lead, they take three spades then three diamonds. They have an eventual natural trump trick.
If East/West are on lead, the defense play four rounds of clubs immediately, pitching two diamonds. North can ruff but if so, West can get at least four trump tricks.


If East/West are on lead, they defend as they did against spades, ovetaking a club, taking three rounds of hearts, two more top clubs, and a fourth round of clubs, West ruffing high. North must overruff with the queen, setting up another trick for the defense.


If East/West are on lead, they just draw four clubs then take three hearts.
With North/South on lead, life is a little subtler. East/West's trump suit does not seem succeptible to a promotion, but the suit does possess a weakness. Notice how, on defense against a number of contracts above, with West on opening least, East sometimes needs to overtake twice in clubs. East has an entry problem. North/South can make East's problem a bit worse.
North/South take three top tricks in both diamonds (finessing the ten) and spades, South pitching a heart, leading to this position:
9 8 3
8 6 4
A K J 6 4
Q 10
A K J 3
Q 10
9 7 5 2
North leads the J, and West must ruff, South pitching a heart. Now East/West's entries are all tangled. East's hand cannot overtake the Q without promoting a trump trick in the South hand. Neither can East cash the Q and get to his hand with a high heart rough, or South just pitches his high diamond and scores a long trump. If East/West try a cross-ruff, South can over-ruff the first heart ruffed.
What would happen if South was on lead after six tricks in the above position, and led his good diamond? West again would have to ruff, but now South still has two hearts. East/West take the next six tricks by playing the A, ruff a heart with the 3, ruff a spade in West and East is left with A-K-J, scoring the last three tricks. East/West score six trump tricks and a heart.
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Thomas Andrews (bridge@thomasoandrews.com), © 1999-2009.
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