Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Wednesday, April 12th, 2017

What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare?

W. H. Davies

S North
Both ♠ A 5 2
 9 6 4
 8 4 2
♣ A K 6 5
West East
♠ K Q 10 7 6
 A 9 6 3
♣ J 10 8
♠ 9 8 4
 8 7 5
 Q J 10 7
♣ Q 9 3
♠ J 3
 A K Q J 10 2
 K 5
♣ 7 4 2
South West North East
1 1 ♠ 2 ♣ Pass
3 Pass 4 All pass


In today’s deal North-South were playing two over one as game forcing. But in competition North’s two-club call did not guarantee a second bid. Hence South had to jump to three hearts to set up a force. Now North’s diamond holding persuaded him to try four hearts rather than try for three no-trump. As you can see, reaching no-trump from South might have been the perfect outcome at teams, but at pairs the prospect for a 10th trick at hearts made his decision reasonable.

Put yourself in declarer’s position when West led the spade king against four hearts. See if you can find a better chance than simply finding the diamond ace onside. At the table South ducked the opening lead, and East followed with the nine, playing reverse signals, thus suggesting a three-card suit.

West now decided that declarer was unlikely to have the club queen or he might well not have ducked the first trick, so he accurately shifted to the club jack. South took dummy’s ace, cashed the heart ace, then made the critical play of leading the spade jack, ducking in dummy when West covered.

The best West could do was win and play a second club. Declarer won dummy’s king, threw his third club on the spade ace, and ruffed a club high.

Now he could lead draw trumps ending in dummy, then cash the long club to pitch a diamond. At this point, he had 10 tricks without relying on a favorable diamond position.

These days the majority of pairs play direct jumps by responder at his second turn as invitational. After this start, really strong hands will use new minor (here a call of two clubs as a Stayman equivalent) to set up a force. That being so, a jump to three diamonds should be this sort of hand: a shapely invitation interested in game in diamonds or spades.


♠ K Q 10 7 6
 A 9 6 3
♣ J 10 8
South West North East
    1 Pass
1 ♠ Pass 1 NT Pass

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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