Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Saturday, April 8th, 2017

We never do anything well till we cease to think about the manner of doing it.

William Hazlitt

W North
N-S ♠ 10 5 4 2
 9 6 2
 10 6 3
♣ 8 4 2
West East
♠ J 9 8 6 3
 J 10 7
 K 2
♣ K 9 3
♠ K
 Q 8 5 4
 A J 9 7 4
♣ 10 7 6
♠ A Q 7
 A K 3
 Q 8 5
♣ A Q J 5
South West North East
  Pass Pass Pass
2 ♣ Pass 2 Pass
2 NT All pass    


South’s two club opening bid and two no-trump rebid shows a balanced 22 to 24 points, letting North pass gratefully.

South ducks West’s spade lead in dummy, taking East’s king with his ace. He now has two spade tricks, two in hearts, and at best three in clubs. Where will his eighth come from?

South starts by leading the club jack, hoping that West will duck the trick even if he shouldn’t. When the jack holds, he continues with ace and another club and West wins his king.

West has a safe exit in the form of the heart jack. Declarer wins, and cashes off the 13th club, discarding a heart from the board. When West pitches the spade three, South must now get out from his hand, with a fairly good idea that West began with five spades and three clubs.

It looks natural to exit with king and another heart, but if he does, East will cash the 13th heart, and declarer’s hand will be squeezed.

Best may be to play West for the doubleton ace or king of diamonds (much more likely than that East has passed a hand with both top diamonds plus some major stuffing in third seat, nonvulnerable). So declarer exits with a low diamond from hand. When East wins cheaply, he does best to lead a second diamond to West’s bare king. But now, when West plays his heart 10, South ducks, wins the next heart, and plays queen and another spade. West must win and concede trick 13 to dummy’s 10.

You will probably feel torn here between raising diamonds and making a negative double, to get hearts into the picture. In a way, four hearts is almost as likely to be the best game for your side as five diamonds, with three no-trump an outsider. My guess would be to double, planning to bid diamonds at my next turn at the three or four level if the opponents compete.


♠ J
 Q 8 5 4
 A J 9 7 4
♣ 10 7 6
South West North East
    1 1 ♠

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Reproduced with permission of United Feature Syndicate, Inc., Copyright 2017. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact