Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Wednesday, July 5th, 2017

As if there were safety in stupidity alone.

Henry Thoreau

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


The South hand is in no way good enough for a two no-trump opener, which should be 20-21. Only rarely will you consider upgrading a 19-count. Your plan of campaign should be to open one heart, planning to raise a response of one no-trump to two, to suggest precisely these values. At the table, when partner raises to two hearts (a constructive call if you play the forcing no-trump) you can offer a choice of games with a call of three no-trump. Now, assuming North decides his small doubleton club is a danger signal, you should finish up in four hearts rather than three no-trump.

After a spade lead, there is a slight risk of a diamond or spade ruff, but South might well decide that this looks like a sensible moment for a safety play in hearts if the diamond finesse works. So it feels right to win the spade lead and play a diamond to the jack.

If the finesse loses, you will play a heart to the ace and a heart to the jack. However, when the diamond finesse wins, you can afford one heart loser but not two. So lead out the heart king, then play a low heart to the nine.

If you lose this trick, you surely have the rest bar the two club losers. If West has four hearts, you have held your losers to one. And what if East has four hearts? Then when West discards on the second round of hearts, go up with the ace and complete the drawing of trump.

You are surely worth a second call, and the most descriptive effort in my opinion is to bid three clubs now. Since you didn’t repeat your spades, which you would do with five of them, this ought to be a four-card spade suit with equal or better clubs. I’m not sure if a double of two hearts would show this hand and I am not prepared to take the risk of making a complicated call when a simple one will do.


♠ 9 8 6 3
 K 9 8
♣ K 9 8 7 2
South West North East
  1 Dbl. Pass
1 ♠ 2 Pass 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