The Aces on Bridge: Monday, February 4th, 2013
We may live without friends; we may live without books;
But civilized man cannot live without cooks.
♥ J 9 7 5
♦ Q 10 9 7 5
♣ K 7 3
|♠ A 10 5 2
♥ K Q 10
♦ K 4 3
♣ A Q 9
♥ 8 6 4 3 2
♦ A 8 2
♣ 10 8 4 2
|♠ K Q J 9 8 7 6
♦ J 6
♣ J 6 5
Sam Fry Jr. was one of the original 10 life masters appointed by the ACBL and the hero of today's deal. When it came up, somewhat different conventions were the norm, and Fry could make a penalty double of three spades.
South took the lead of the heart king and played the spade king. It looks natural for West to win this — but he would then have had to guess what to do next.
But Fry ducked the spade king — which could hardly cost, since he was not going to score all of his small trumps whatever he did. He hoped to get a meaningful signal from his partner on the next trump, and that was what transpired. West took the spade-queen lead with the ace and, noting his partner’s diamond eight, switched to the diamond three. East won the diamond ace and found the obvious club shift. Since Fry knew from his partner’s play of the two that he had at most four cards in the suit, he could put in the nine. The defense took two trumps, two diamonds and two clubs for plus 500.
West can also succeed by shifting to the club queen when in with the trump ace. But if South had begun with both the club jack and 10, West needs to play a diamond to collect his 500.
Just for the record, nowadays West would surely bid three no-trump over three spades and would have failed by at least two tricks. Sometimes the old ways are the best.
There are people brought up on Culbertson's theories who would lead the diamond queen, assuming that partner won't believe they have an honor in his suit unless they lead it. But the low card actually suggests an honor rather than denying one. (A high spot-card lead might deny an honor.) Also, it avoids surrendering a trick unnecessarily if declarer has three diamonds to a top honor, plus the jack.
LEAD WITH THE ACES
|♠ Q 7 5 2
♥ K J 7 3
♦ Q 7 4
♣ 8 5