Trump Control – Lesson Notes

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Our lesson is about planning the play in a suit contract. For planning a trump contract we must…

Ozdil-Katz School of Bridge
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Source: BBO NEws

Melih Ozdil

 

Ralph Katz

Ralph Katz

On Wednesday, May 8th, BBO Star Melih Ozdil and BBO Star Ralph Katz, founders of the new Ozdil-Katz Online School of Bridge, held a free lesson on BBO, focused on trump control and trump management. In case you missed the lesson, here’s a summary.

Welcome everyone. Our lesson is about planning the play in a suit contract. For planning a trump contract we must learn to count losers first. (The hands will be easier at first and then get harder as we get through the lesson.)

1. With (5-3), (6-3) or (5-4) trumps

Board 1

Click NEXT in the diagram to see the lead.

After 2 (reverse drury) we bid game. West leads the Q.

Now let’s learn how to count losers. If trump is longer on one side, we count losers on that side. So on this hand, South has longer trump. South is the Master Hand (MH) and we count losers in South.

  • I have 3 heart losers (we don’t take distribution into account for now).
  • I have one club loser (we transfer the Ace of clubs in MH)
  • I have no diamond losers (we transfer the Ace of diamond in MH)

I have 3 hearts and one club losers. How I can prevent these losers? The answer is plan, including communication between hands.

I can not prevent a club loser. I will give one heart and ruff 2 hearts, this is the plan. I need to keep an entry to MH, that is why I’ll win the first diamond in dummy. This is very important – which honor you play at trick one.


Click NEXT in the diagram to follow the play.

Dear friends, it’s easy when playing in a 5-3 fit. But soon we will see it’s more difficult if trumps are 4-4.

Board 2

Click NEXT in the diagram to see the opening lead.

So on this hand, I have 1 club loser, and 4 diamond losers. What is the plan? I will discard my club loser on heart, and try to ruff diamonds – this is my plan.

Now I want to ruff diamond, so I come to my hand with a ruff. I have 3 hearts and 3 clubs out, so it’s safe to ruff a heart. Next, with one heart and 2 clubs out, it’s safe to ruff a club.


Click NEXT in the diagram to follow the play.

Claim time: Dear opps, you can take 2 spades and one diamond now.

Board 3

Click NEXT in the diagram to see the opening lead.

3 is smolen, shows 5 hearts and 4 spades. 4 shows heart support and a max.

Now we can count losers from MH. MH is North, because it has longer trumps. Now pay attention. The master hand is not always declarer’s hand. Master hand is always the side with longer trumps.

North has 2 spade and 1 diamond losers. I can ruff one spade and discard the other on clubs.


Click NEXT in the diagram to follow the play.

Board 4

Click NEXT in the diagram to see the opening lead.

The 3 bid was a help suit game try. With AKQx of , South does not need help in that suit.

OK, let’s speak about the master hand again. If trumps are 5-3, count losers in the hand with longer trumps side.

South has longer trumps, so South becomes the master hand (MH). We don’t look at the other side’s distribution, but we transfer honors when counting losers. So I have 2 heart losers and 1 club loser. I’ll ask myself – How can I prevent losing these tricks? The answer is – plan the play.

I can ruff 2 hearts and discard a club on diamond:

 

Click NEXT in the diagram to follow the play.

Now claim: dear opps, you can take one trump from MH!

Board 5


Click NEXT in the diagram to see the opening lead.

2 is Flannery.

Attention! The master hand is not always declarer’s hand. Master hand is always the side with longer trumps. On this deal, MH is North because it has longer trumps. North has 4 spade losers and 1 club loser. What is the plan? We might try to ruff spades and discard club on diamond:

 


Click NEXT in the diagram to follow the play.

This play is wrong. First of all, we dont need to discard the club immediately, as long as we have the Ace of clubs. So if we have an Ace in the suit, we don’t need to discard right away. Second, we need to keep entry to ruff spade, and this play kills our entry to dummy.

This is the right play:

Click NEXT in the diagram to follow the play.

Attention! After the opening lead, if you can win either in dummy, or in hand, you must choose the correct one. As a general rule, it’s better to keep the entry to MH.

East, an experienced player, realized I will try to ruff with in the hand with shorter trumps, so after winning the spade 9 he played a trump.

Now do you see why I kept the Ace of diamonds in dummy? I need that entry. Now it’s time to discard our loser. I don’t want to ruff in MH, but I need to go there. Claim time! Dear opps, you can take 2 trump tricks from MH now.

2. With (4-4) trumps

In order to choose the Master Hand, one must consider the length of side suits, trump quality, and entries.

2.A. When there is no side 5-card suit

 

Board 6

Click NEXT in the diagram to see the opening lead.

Let’s talk about 4-4 fit now. Play in 4-4 trumps needs a lot of experience. It’s more difficult than playing in 5-3.

Why?

Let’s see why.

Before we start, let’s look at the lead. With xxxx in trumps, a trump lead is perfect. The leader is very very happy and proud of himself. He is thinking, each time he plays one of his trumps, he kills two of mine. It’s like a war – one soldier from him for two of mine.

Now, when we play with trumps 4-4, the problem is to decide which side will be the master hand. It’s not as easy as in 5-3 fit, where longer trumps establish MH. But here? For a good plan you must choose the master hand correctly.

Here are some rules. You will not find these rules in any book or anywhere else.

Rule #1
Count losers in both hands, and the side with less losers will be MH.

This is Rule #1. Let’s count losers in South. South has 2 club and 4 diamond losers – that’s 6 losers. North has 2 clubs, 1 heart and 2 diamond losers – 5 losers. So North will be MH and I will try to prevent losers in North, not in South.

Attention! In 95% of the cases, the number of losers will be equal and we must find another rules for choosing MH.

In bridge, the Ace and the 7 are different cards. But if we hold AKQJ10987 in our hands combined, then the Ace will be equal to the 7. In this hand, the Ace of trumps and the 7 of trumps are equal. So I have 8 trump aces and I can use them for transportation also:


Click NEXT in the diagram to follow the play.

First I try to finesse clubs, maybe West has the Ace. East wins the trick, plays back a diamons and now West happily continues trump – one soldier from me, 2 soldiers from the enemy, that’s his thinking.

Now I have 1, 1 and 1 losers in MH. What is the solution?

Simple. I will discard a club on heart, then I ruff club and heart. Claim time: Dear opps, you can take 1 from MH now.

Board 7

Click NEXT in the diagram to see the opening lead.

North has 3 hearts, 1 club and 1diamond losers = 5 losers.
South has 1 heart, 1 club, 3 diamond losers = 5 losers.

Remember, before you start playing, choose the master hand. Otherwise the play can not be correct, no matter how experienced you are.

On this deal, each hand has an equal number of losers.

Rule #2
If the number of losers is equal, check entries. The side with more entries will be our master hand.

Each hand has an even number of entries.

North has 2 entries, South has 2 entries. But trump quality is different. South has 4 high trumps. North has only 2.

Rule #3
If the number of losers and the number of entries are equal for both sides, check trump quality. The side with better trumps becomes the master hand.

So here, South is MH. What’s the plan? I will lose a heart, a club and a diamond, and I try to ruff 2 diamonds:


Click NEXT in the diagram to follow the play.

Claim time: Dear opps, you can take 1 and 1 from my hand now.

Board 8

Click NEXT in the diagram to see the opening lead.

North has 3 heart and 2 club losers = 5 losers
South has 1 heart, 2 club, 2 diamond losers = 5 losers
Trump quality is equal – AK in one hand, QJ in the other; 2 aces in each hand.
How about the entries?
North has 3 entries, South has 1 entry.
So North will be MH.

I keep high trumps in MH first, because I want to ruff with small trumps and collect opps’ trumps with my high trumps.

I will ruff in South, so I keep small trumps in South first. Next, I will ruff 2 hearts and I know one of the opponents will ruff the last one. So I keep a high trump in South:

Click NEXT in the diagram to follow the play.

Claim time: Dear opps, you can take 2 clubs from dummy (MH) now.

Board 9


Click NEXT in the diagram to see the opening lead.

2NT shows 4-4 majors and a minimum.
4 is transfer to spade – we play from the strong hand every time.

North has 1 heart, 3 club, 1diamond losers = 5 losers.
South has 1 heart, 1 club, 2 diamond losers = 4 losers.

So South is MH.
What is the plan?

I will give 1 heart, 1 club and 1 diamond, and I will ruff only 1 diamond. This is my plan. I can cash trumps because I only need one ruff. Next, I ruff my diamond loser and give a club:

 

Click NEXT in the diagram to follow the play.

Board 10
Click NEXT in the diagram to see the opening lead.

Now this hand is very important for your bridge game. Please pay attention and try to understand how I make a plan for this hand.

After 4th suit GF, 3 is slammish. North understood I have 4441 and he thinks we can make slam because he has great honors for my distribution.

I will give you a quick bidding lesson here. Quick but very good for your bridge. In this situation, a direct 3 is 11-12 dummy points with 4 card support. 4 is 13-16 dummy points and 4 cards.

If your partner used 4th suit forcing, you don’t know if he has spade support or not. But after 4th suit, if he returns to spades, in this position 4 shows 17 bad to 19 dummy points and 4 cards support. This 4 is a slam invitation. If after 4th suit he returns to 3, this shows 19+ dummy points and an even more slammish hand.

North intended to bid 4 after 4th suit. But when he learned I have 4441, he changed his plan and bid more aggressively. My shortness makes his hand better.

West is happy because he made a good lead here.
Now let’s plan the play.
First, we must find MH. Rules #2 and #3 tell us to check entries and trump quality.

Rule #4
The suit that needs more ruffs has priority, so the side where this suit is becomes MH. This is a good rule that solves many problems.

On this deal, losers are equal.
I can ruff 1 club
I can ruff 2 diamonds

But 3 heart ruffs are also possible. 3 ruffs from same side is fabulous!

So I will try to ruff hearts, and North will be my master hand.
I play small trump from MH because I will use the high trumps to cash outside trumps, and I will use South’s trumps to ruff.

The Ace and the 9 are equal here. I have 7 aces in 2 hands:

Click NEXT in the diagram to follow the play.

Claim time: Dear opps, you can take 1 club from MH now.

Board 11


Click NEXT in the diagram to see the opening lead.

If I bid a major I have only one. With both majors I bid 2NT if minimum, or 3 if maximum then partener will transfer into his major.

Counting time:
North has 4 diamond losers
South has 2 diamond and 2 heart losers

I can ruff 2 diamonds.
I can ruff 2 hearts.

Everything is equal for both sides. How will I choose the master hand?

Hearts are quicker to ruff than the diamonds.

Rule #5
If both sides have equal ruffs, I prefer quick ruffs and the side with a suit with quick ruffs will be the master hand (MH).

So here South is MH.


Click NEXT in the diagram to follow the play.

Claiming time: dear opps you can take 1 spade and 2 diamonds now.

Let’s play this hand one more time, on a diamond lead:


Click NEXT in the diagram to follow the play.

What I can do now? How I can decide which is my master hand?

It’s easier now, because one side has long trumps, and the other shorter. What was our first rule? The side with longer trumps will be MH. Thank you opponents, I have no more problems and North will be master hand.

What is North’s loser? 1 diamond. I can ruff, but – attention – this is my last ruff and there is one big trump outside. If possible, before the last ruff leave only one trump outside.

This is how to play the deal correctly – there is just one trump outside before last our ruff:

Click NEXT in the diagram to follow the play.

Board 12

Click NEXT in the diagram to see the opening lead.

This deal can be found in our bridge movie. Click here to view the movie and the analysis for this deal.

Ozkatz Bridge School has 4 movies (click to access them). You can find our movies in the BBO Store (click the Bridge Movies button on BBO and look for author OZKATZ).

2.B. When there is a 5-card side suit

If the number of losers is equal on both sides and there are no entry problems, the side with a 5-card suit becomes the Master Hand.

Deal 13


Click NEXT in the diagram to see the opening lead.

On this deal losers are equal for each side.

Rule #6
If losers are equal for both sides, we can try to develop a 5-card suit, and this side will be our MH (if we have entry).

So here, we will establish hearts. Remember, if you want to develop a suit by ruffing, start developping it before pulling trump.

Now we have AKQJ10987 in trumps. It’s as if we had 8 aces in trump. All equal.

It’s important how you keep transportation in trumps. Pay attention to how I ruff here. When you ruff with equivalent trumps, always ruff with the biggest one. When you use trumps for transportation, always use the smallest trump to go from one hand to the other:


Click NEXT in the diagram to follow the play.

This is all for today. We’ll be back in June with another free lesson!

Thank you all! Visit us at ozdilkatzbridge.com. I hope you found this lesson useful.

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