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The simplest defensive situation also happens to be a fairly common one: declarer cashes side suit aces, then exits with a trump to his partner, who then cashes some side suit aces. So unless you have a good reason to think differently, it’s reasonable to assume that your (defensive) side now has all the missing aces. That means, those aces are tricks now…unless they get trumped.

This makes one of the most basic defensive tactics clear for this situation: get trump out! Specifically, get *dummy’s* trumps out. You don’t mind if declarer ruffs; that’s a trick he’s going to get in any case, at least most of the time. Declarer’s bidding and play are based in part on his expected trick count; given, say, an AATTKQJ trump suit, he counts 5 tricks. His ruffs don’t change that. When dummy ruffs one of declarer’s losers, though, it’s a ‘bonus’ trick: a trick declarer didn’t count, and one that wasn’t based on an ace. In every pinochle hand, there are a certain number of tricks that will be won by one side or the other, largely regardless of the play. The rest are up for grabs: they can be won or lost. When dummy gets to ruff one of declarer’s losers, very often the defense just lost one of those.

The critical mistake for the defense is to get too busy: start cashing a whole lot of aces. The defenders’ aces that will cash, are in the first category: tricks that were pre-determined. Note that there are *2* risks here, when the defense gets busy: first, that dummy will ruff, and second, that by removing the aces, you may be setting up non-ace tricks for declarer. Here's an example; we'll put declarer in the South seat:



The early play: AC,AD,QS to dummy's AS,AH,AD,KH exit to East's AH.

First, let's look at the situation. Declarer counts 5 trump tricks (8 card suit missing 3 aces), plus 2 side aces for 7. Dummy's provided 3 tricks with his 3 aces, so declarer is now on pace for 10 tricks, and probably a split deck. Defense probably saves.

But watch what happens if East immediately plunks down his 2nd AH...getting busy. OOPS! Dummy ruffs. One trick gone. Worse, when declarer gets in, he now leads TH, forcing West to play AH...and even if the defense has removed dummy's last 2 trump, South now has THTH *which are now good*. Now he's got 31, and the defense doesn't save.

So here's principle #1: DON'T get busy and cash side-suit aces, when the other side has presumably done so.

Principle #2, that's a corollary of #1: when you do have to play side suits, hammer at 1 suit at a time, repeatedly, until you can't or you find a darn good reason not to.

This is, as I noted at the start, the simplest case, and there are plenty of exceptions and variations that I'll try to cover as we go on.
So you are saying in a situation like this, when the opposition has presumably played all their aces, your partnership should be leading trump?
I'm loving the good, clean, situational advice. I can't wait to apply what I've read in the Power Pinochle forums to some home games when I visit the US in the near future! Thanks TE.

I'm looking forward to the exceptions to these guidelines and their justifications. Definitely Subscribing to this one.
rak: in most cases, yes. There will be some major exceptions as we go along.
(11-02-2012, 12:19 PM)ToreadorElder Wrote: [ -> ]rak: in most cases, yes. There will be some major exceptions as we go along.

Defense is where I am weakest. So I have always tried to do to my opponents what I don't want them to do to me. Most times when I am declarer, I am trying to get trump out so I can make my side suits good. What hurts me is when the opponents find the suit I am out of and force me to trump, so I have always tried to shorten the declarers trump suit to stop him from running other suits and from getting the last trick. I'm definitely interested in hearing more.
Essentially, that is correct: do what declarer doesn't want you to do. But getting trump out TOO fast, is often NOT the correct play for declarer. It's correct when there are potential non-ace winners in side suits, but it's wrong when that's not the case. Say you have a nice, 8 card trump suit like AGAGTGTGKGKGQGJG, and a 6 card double ace side suit.

When the side suit is AGAGTGTGQGJG, you can play for 4 tricks here by sandbagging the suit altogether, and working on trump.

But when the suit is AGAGQGQGJGJG, there's no point. The probability of getting a 3rd trick is low. The probability that partner can ruff one or two rounds here, is at least decent.

Finally, when it's AGAGTGQGQGJG, you have a decent shot at a 3rd trick, but it's not that great. Play AGAG, QG, tho, and you have multiple chances...ruffs by partner, forcing both defenders to ruff, or just seeing the missing aces drop eventually, and the TG sets up naturally.

But note how, even here, one of the main situations you're hoping for, is that partner will be ruffing. Partner can't do that nearly as often, when trump get played too fast.

BTW: forcing declarer to ruff often, is one of the major alternatives to playing trump, and is often a sound alternative...almost always, it's better than cashing the defense's aces willy-nilly. But I mention it for this reason: one of the *most common* actions that dummy takes, is to force declarer to ruff as well. GAH! If it's right for the defense, it is NOT right for dummy, unless either

a) Dummy has enough trump support to maintain trump control later in the hand, or
b) A crossruff exists, where dummy can ruff.

In both these cases, the idea for the declaring side is to win MANY tricks with their trumps, because each one is taking tricks. When the defense *leads* trump, this gets reduced because both dummy and declarer have to play a trump on that one trick...rather than one from each, on 2 separate tricks.
I want to reply to this one too.