Have you ever opened up a score slip and found that most of the players in the game made the same score, but one declarer made an overtrick?  That extra trick may have been won by means of a Dummy Reversal, a technique often overlooked by many players.

Below are several examples of how to execute a dummy reversal.  Some of these hands I made up and others were shamelessly stolen.  I offer no apologies.

You only have one rule to remember...

    You must ruff in the long hand until you have fewer trumps than the short hand.

Hand 1
Your contract is 6 and the lead is the A followed by the K.

   7 6 3 2
   A T 3
   K Q 8
   A 6 5

   K Q J 6 5
   A J 4
   K Q 7 6

If you ruff the second spade and draw trump you will take five heart tricks, three diamonds and three clubs.  That's 11 tricks and you need 12.  (Yes, the clubs might be 3-3, but maybe not.)

You must reduce the number of trumps in your hand to fewer than the number in dummy.
You need to ruff three spades, not just the second one.  Cross to dummy with minor suit entries in order to do this.  Your hand will then have only two trumps after ruffing three times, but that means you will take three ruffs, three more trumps, three diamonds and three clubs to make 12 tricks.  You don't need a lucky club break.

Hand 2
Your contract is 4 and the lead is the A followed by the K.

   A Q 5
   J 8 2
   T 7 5 2
   Q T 6

   K J T 8 3
   Q 7 5
   A K J 3

You can ruff the second diamond and draw trump, but if you do, you will take five spades and four clubs for 9 tricks.  With a dummy reversal you can make 10 tricks.

Since you need to ruff three diamonds to shorten your trump suit to have fewer than the dummy, cross to dummy with a club at trick three and ruff a second diamond.  Next, lead a trump to dummy so you can ruff another diamond.  Now your trumps in-hand are fewer than the dummy's, so it's time to draw the opponent's trumps.  When you finish, you will take three ruffs, three spades when you draw trump, and four club tricks.  That's 10 tricks and your contract.

Hand 3
You open the South hand 1NT and your partner transfers to hearts.
Your contract is 4 and the lead is the K followed by a trump.

   K 5 4
   K J T 9 6
   7 4 3 2

   A Q J
   A Q 5
   J 6 5 2
   K T 5

Unless you are lucky enough to find the A on your right there are only five heart tricks, three spades and the A for 9 tricks.  But a dummy reversal will give you ten tricks, right?
(Yes, I know, the dummy has the long trump suit, but you play it the same way.  Maybe this should be called a Declarer Reversal.)

Here's the rule again...
    You must ruff in the long hand until you have fewer trumps than the short hand.
At trick two, take the trump lead in your hand and lead a diamond to ruff it in the dummy.  Come back to your hand with a spade to the jack.  Lead another diamond to dummy for a second ruff.  Lead a second spade to the queen and trump your last diamond in the dummy.  Now the dummy has only the king of hearts left which you can overtake to draw the remaining trumps held by the opponents.  You have taken the A and three diamond ruffs, three trump tricks, and three spades for 10 tricks.  No need to pin all your hopes on the A being on-side.  If it is, you might make an overtrick.

You will succeed with a dummy reversal only if you reduce the number of trumps in the long hand to fewer than the number held by the short hand, regardless of what the actual dummy holds in trump.

Hand 4
Your contract is 4 and the lead is the K.

   Q J 7 4 2
   7 3 2
   J 8 7 5

   A K T
   A 7 6 5
   A K 4
   A 6 2

Three notrump would be easy since there are 9 tricks, but 4 making will give you a better score. However, if you take the opening lead with the A and draw trump you can't make a game contract in spades.  It looks like you need to delay drawing trumps and play for an extra trick with a dummy reversal.

Capture the K with the ace and play the A from your hand.  Trump the second heart in the dummy.  Come back to your hand and ruff another heart, and repeat once more, making the dummy have fewer spades than your hand.  Now you can draw the outstanding trump and play your winners.  You will take the A and three heart ruffs, then three more tricks when you draw trumps, and finally two top diamonds and the A.  That comes to 10 tricks.

Hand 5
Your contract is 4 and the lead is the A.

   9 8 5 3
   K J T
   A 7 6
   A 7 6

   A Q 9 6 5
   J 9 5 4 3
   K 5 2

Problem Yes, you can ruff the first spade trick, but if you draw trump you won't make your contract.

After seeing the above examples, you already know the solution, right?  How many spades will you have to ruff?  (Count your tricks!)  But be careful about which hearts you will use to ruff with, as you need a final entry to dummy.   Don't get blocked in your hand.

Hand 6
Your contract is 4 and the lead is the J.

   T 9 4
   K 5 2
   Q 5 2
   A T 4 3

   A K Q J 7
   8 4
   A K 4 3
   5 2

This is a typical hand you see every time you play, right?  The opponents take the first two heart tricks and you ruff the third one.  If you draw trumps, you have 5 spade tricks, three diamonds and a club.  That's only 9 tricks, but on a good day the diamonds will split and you can score all four tricks in diamonds.  What if they don't?

You really should be able to do this one by yourself now, but if you want to see the solution, click here.  By the way, I hope you didn't ruff that third spade with the 7.  You need an entry to the good spades in dummy after you shorten your spade suit by ruffing.

Roy Wilson