Here’s a suggested summer read: Barbara’s Bridge Tips by Barbara Seagram (Master Point Press). A Torontonian who has written or co-authored dozens of books, most popularly 25 Bridge Conventions You Should Know, Seagram covers bidding, playing and defending tips she’s taught for the past 20 years.

My student declarers often win the opening lead and attack trumps. That can lead to trouble. Let’s say you’ve landed in 6♥️ as South, and West has led the spade ace:

                          ♠️ 9 7 6 4 2
                          ♥️ K 9 3
                          ♦️ 3
                          ♣️ A J 6 2

WEST                                            EAST
♠️ A K Q 5                                  ♠️ J 10 8 3
♥️ 4 2                                          ♥️ A 5
♦️ J 10 9 6 4                               ♦️ K Q 8 7
♣️ 10 8                                       ♣️ 9 7 5

                         ♠️ —
                         ♥️ Q J 10 8 7 6
                         ♦️ A 5 2
                         ♣️ K Q 4 3

Naturally, you ruff the opening lead in hand. What now?

It’s tempting to lead a heart to the king, isn’t it? But suppose East wins with the ace and plays another heart. Now you’re sentenced to losers in hearts and diamonds.

This is the time to delay drawing trump. You always want to count losers in a suit contract, and you can see a couple of them in diamonds. Therefore cash the ♦️A, ruff a diamond, return to your hand with a club and ruff another diamond.

Now play the ♥️K, losing to the ♥️A. Win any return, draw the remaining trump, and claim. Twelve tricks are safe.

Here’s another case Seagram presents under the category “To Pull or Not to Pull.” You’re in 4♠️, and West has led the ♥️K.

     ♠️ J 6 4 3
     ♥️ A 5 2
     ♦️ A Q 3
     ♣️ Q 10 2

     ♠️ K Q 7 5 2
     ♥️ 6 4 3
     ♦️ K 7
     ♣️ K J 6

Count your losers! I see one spade, two hearts and a club. If you lead spades, the opponents will win the ace and cash two hearts and a club. To eliminate a heart loser, delay drawing trump. Cash the ♦️K-A-Q, discarding a heart from the South hand. Now you’ll have only one heart loser and make the contract.

“So the moral here is: when you have quick losers and no ace of trumps, try to discard a loser before pulling trumps,” Seagram writes.

A Barbara bridge tip par excellence.