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41 - SEPTEMBER 2023

41 - SEPTEMBER 2023

BALANCE!

In matchpoint pairs, it is almost always opportune to balance when the opponents have found a fit and still stop at the two-level. However – and you have certainly seen that in regular Club tournaments – many players do not…

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RUFFING GAMES [PART 2]

It is important to understand the difference between an open ruff and a closed ruff. A ruff is said to be open if it can be made without losing a trick in the suit of the ruff.

Examples of open ruffs:

♠ – 

♠ 3
♠ 2 

♠ A3
♠ K2 

♠ A43
♠ KQ4 

♠ A632

In other situations, the ruff is closed. 
You need to lose one trick (and thus give up the lead) once:

♠ 4 

♠ 32
♠ 42 

♠ A53
♠ K42 

♠ A653

The suit can also be locked with the key turned twice. Here, you need to give up the lead twice:

♠ 64 

♠ 532 
♠ 642

♠ A753

Or even three times, like here:

♠ 764

♠ 8532

Of course, when a ruff is closed, you have to open it. But when you develop your declarer plan, you must keep in mind that the defense will of course cowardly take advantage of every time they get on lead to make your live miserable and, in particular, play trumps. Another difficulty: there can sometimes be several ways to open a ruff. Let’s take:

♠ K42

♠ A653

You can play King of Spades, a Spade to the Ace and a Spade, to get to:

♠ –

♠ 6

But you can also duck a Spade first, to arrive this time at:

♠ K4

♠ A65

A position which also is an open ruff.

The choice between the two methods is far from obvious and depends on the context, that is to say the state of your communications and, above all, your trump holding.

LET’S PRACTICE WITH TWO EXERCISES:

WNES
1♣Pass1
Pass1NTPass2♣
Pass2♠Pass4

Lead: Q

How do you play?

If you start with Ace-King of Spades and a Spade to open up the ruff, West wins and plays himself a fourth round of Spades, which results in East overruffing dummy. And this is seriously bad because he ruffs from the doubleton. If instead you cash Ace-King of Hearts before opening up the Spade ruff, West can this time cash his high trump: say goodbye to your ruff in the short hand. The right timing: Duck a Spade at trick two to open up the ruff. You still control any return, cash Ace-King of Hearts and then play your Spades. If one defender ruffs, that is no problem because they ruff with their natural trump trick, and you have another trump left in dummy to ruff the fourth Spade.

WNES
1♣Pass1
Pass1NTPass2♣
Pass2♠Pass4

Lead: Q, won with the King (the 2 from East).

How do you play?

This time, if you duck a Spade, it would be catastrophic if one of your honors gets ruffed later by the defense, because it would necessarily be done with an “illegitimate” (small) trump. If you have the misfortune to play as little as one round of trumps, the defense will be able to play two more rounds themselves because they have the trump ace and will get in with a Spade. The right timing here is to cash your two minor-suit Aces and then play King of Spades, Spade to the Ace and a Spade. Nobody will be able to stop you from ruffing your fourth Spade with the 10.

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Marc Kerlero

An FFB-certified teacher, Marc Kerlero has been teaching bridge since 1980. The former Junior European champion and many-time French champion is also the author of around fifteen works, including the best-sellers Bidding User Manual or Improve your Defence. He responds to FAQs on his website “Amour du Bridge” (“Love of Bridge”).

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