Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, October 5th, 2017

Scepticism is the chastity of the intellect, and it is shameful to surrender to it too soon or to the first comer.

George Santayana

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


At the Dyspeptics Club, East and West are used to defending against high-level contracts with South at the helm. They are aware that he will often fail to give his contract his best shot, but on this occasion it was East who missed his chance. All credit to South, though, for putting the opponents under pressure.

After West did his best to put a spoke in the opponents’ wheel, North offered his partner a chance to bid slam, and nothing could hold South back after that. In six spades South won the top heart lead, cashed the spade king, led a trump to the ace, and ruffed a heart. Then he cashed the three top diamonds, East discarding a heart, and ruffed the fourth diamond while East discarded a second heart.

Now after considerable thought South came to the right conclusion when he exited with a trump. East was reduced to four clubs only, and when he returned a low club, South played low, claiming the balance when West was forced to put up his queen.

East should have realized that his only chance to beat the hand was to find his partner with one of the king or queen of clubs. Whichever West has, there was no need to keep all four clubs. If East discards a small club on the fourth diamond, then he will be able to exit with a heart after winning the third trump. Now declarer would have had to guess to drop the doubleton club queen to make his slam – and there would have been no reason to do that.

In response to your Jacoby two no-trump call, showing a game-forcing spade hand, partner’s three diamond call showed shortness. You are well worth co-operating in, but not initiating, a slam-try now. Best now is to bid three spades, to let partner sign off in game or cuebid if appropriate. Incidentally, you might cuebid four clubs with ace-queen third of that suit, instead of your actual holding.


♠ A 10 7 5 3
 8 6
 A 8 7
♣ K J 2
South West North East
    1 ♠ Pass
2 NT Pass 3 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