Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Wednesday, September 6th, 2017

Most roads lead men homewards, My road leads me forth.

John Masefield

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


Consider in abstract how to play today’s diamond suit of J-98-6-3 facing A-K-4 to give yourself the best chance of four tricks? Best is to cash the ace, in case an honor falls, then cross back to the other hand in a second suit, and lead the nine, letting it run unless the next opponent shows out.

Now look at today’s deal, where South ended in six no-trump and West led the heart three. Declarer needed to generate two extra tricks from diamonds, so he played low from the table and won East’s queen with the king. A top diamond saw both opponents follow suit, but only now did declarer realize he was short of the entries to hand that he needed for the safety play in diamonds.

He was therefore reduced to playing off the second top diamond, hoping for the suit to break. However, when East showed out, the contract was doomed.

Declarer had exactly the right idea, but had miscalculated the entries needed to the South hand. Try the effect of the heart jack from dummy at the first trick. Whether East can cover or not, declarer has ensured an extra entry to hand when he needs it.

He now cashes a top diamond, comes to hand with a heart, and leads the diamond nine. West plays low and, as planned, declarer follows low from dummy. If it loses, he can claim the balance. When the nine wins, he can cash dummy’s diamond winner, return to hand with the spade queen, and force out the diamond queen to claim 12 tricks.

Do you see my megaphone? I am about to speak very loudly and clearly. Never overcall at the two-level in direct seat on a suit like this. A take-out double may lead to your missing a 5-3 diamond fit, but that is hardly the end of the world. Conversely, overcalling here may get you into all kinds of trouble. I would pass a one spade opener, by the way, considering there to be no serious second choice.


♠ Q 5 2
 K 10
 J 9 8 6 3
♣ A Q 6
South West North East
    Pass 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


Mircea1September 20th, 2017 at 1:16 pm

Hi Bobby,

Under what conditions (colors, form of game, etc.) would you make a t/o double with the BWTA hand?

bobby wolffSeptember 20th, 2017 at 1:58 pm

Hi Mircea1,

At least to me, there are no fortune tellers, even among the best bridge players in the world.

Therefore, I, for one, would make a TO dbl. over a 1 heart opening bid by my RHO, every time this hand came up, vul or not, matchpoints, IMPs, or rubber bridge.

At least to me, it is far more dangerous not to, then to bid something, and the only other choices, pass is too wimpy and likely passing up the only chance to get into the bidding, except pass, 2 hearts, pass, pass back to you, and 2 diamonds is much too horrible a distortion, plus often directing the wrong lead, in case partner becomes the opening leader.

Obviously, I would have many doubters concerning my choice, but my experience tells me, it is much too dangerous to not bid, when given the choice, particularly against good players who will try and steal the hand, when they can make some bid which precludes my partner from then coming into the bidding, while holding decent, but not overwhelming distribution.

Obviously according to most experienced payers, they might not choose to bid, but all would realize that it just a partnership choice, and the key factor is being consistent, if only to allow partner to make allowances for it in his later judgment.

Finally, and to complete my case, current high-level bidding and its nuances now use take out doubles much more often than penalties, making it difficult for most opponents to penalize indiscretions, opening the door for their opponents to not be bullied out of the auction.

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