~The Danger of a 5-3 Trump Fit

Subtitle: Why a 4-4 Trump Fit is Usually Better

When the hand that has the five trumps also holds a shortness in a suit where the opening leader has the high cards and there is a bad trump split, it is easy to lose control of the trump suit. This loss of control is not much of a problem with a 4-4 trump fit.

North
S QT3
H 7643
D KJT4
C A6

West
S 4
H AK52
D A965
C 9875

South
S AK762
H Q
D Q32
C QJT4

East
S J985
H JT98
D 87
C K32

Bidding: N-S are likely to play in some level of spades with South as declarer.

Play: there appear to be 10 winners if either spades split 3-2 or if clubs are not led. Even with a trump loser, South can trump a heart in dummy and set up the diamonds. But watch what happens when West leads a high heart and continues the suit based on East’s play of the J of hearts. South must trump the second heart in hand or lose the trick—and West will continue to lead hearts at every opportunity. South will lose control of the trump suit when trumps split 4-1 and will take 1-2 less tricks than if the trump fit was 4-4.

With a 4-4 trump fit, South can trump hearts in hand, lead to the spade Q, and trump a second heart. South can then lead diamonds to establish the suit, and regardless of what the opponents do, the contract and the trump suit are safe.

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