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0008 - Avoiding a Trump Promotion

Trump Promotion #001 – A trump promotion is the defensive strategy of creating a trump trick (or tricks) by forcing the premature use of a trump card. One of the cardplay techniques (coup) of achieving a trump promotion is to make a trump trick by position in passing (en passant) playing behind the opponent who needs to trump.

This deal was played by Eileen Griffin with Fred Ferguson September 3, 2014 / Hilton Head BC.
This contract is very reasonable North/South have combined 24 hcp (26 shortage points). Of the 12 times this deal was played it was played in 4  - 10 times and in 3 NT - 2 times (go figure).
The opening lead by West is the  A and East gives an encouraging signal with the  6. West follows with the  3 to East's  Q. East returns the  4 ... how should Eileen (South) play this deal?
After 2-tricks in clubs, East can see all of the remaining 5-clubs –  J9 in dummy and  K42 in hand. So to kill dummy's clubs (and avoid a ruffing finesse) East leads the  4 (hiding the  2) knowing that both South and West are void in clubs, but leaving some doubt in Eileen's mind about West's holding in clubs. 
Eileen (South) is now in passing position (en passant). If Eileen relies on winning the  J in dummy or ruffs low West is in a position to win a trump trick cheaply. If Eileen, on the other hand, trumps high then West might get a trump promotion, subsequently winning a trick with a trump card that otherwise would not win a trick.

But, one of the ways of spoiling a trump promotion is to put a loser on a loser ... so when East leads the  4, Eileen smartly pitches the  2, a losing trick. Now the coup (cardplay technique) is broken. West has to trump to protect against dummy winning a cheap trick with a trump card that would have, in fact, won a natural trump trick. East/West are entitled to win 2-spade tricks, either naturally or via ruffing. By pitching a losing diamond on the club ruff Eileen collapses her losers (turning 2-losers into 1-loser.)  East/West eventually wins 1 natural spade + 1 club ruff + 2 natural clubs, but never gets to win a diamond trick for down one (-1). North/South's score is 8.5 matchpoints (77%) on this deal - this deal went down two (-2) six times.

Well done Eileen.
To obtain a printable PDF file of this post click here " 20140903 008

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