Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Saturday, January 6th, 2018

Truth is confirmed by inspection and delay; falsehood, by haste and uncertainty.


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

*Artificial relay

♠ 4 (!)

Consider the fate of the likely final contract of four hearts on this deal from the Politiken World Pairs.

On a minor-suit lead, declarer can simply win and take a heart finesse. The best defense now is to shift to spades, but South wins the king, gives up a heart, and now has 10 tricks.

So a spade lead must be best for the defense. What happens if declarer puts up the king after a deceptive low spade lead, then leads a trump? This is what happened when Jaggy Shivsdasani of India was declarer.

Larry Cohen, East, won his heart ace and thoughtfully continued with the spade jack. (He was known to hold the queen from the earlier play in the suit, so he wanted to make sure his partner knew what was going on.) Steve Weinstein (West) overtook the jack and played a third spade. This forced declarer to ruff, then cross to dummy in diamonds and lead a low heart, putting in the jack when East discarded.

Declarer was all set to concede one trump and claim the rest, but Weinstein ducked his trump queen! Now declarer could cash the heart king and play on diamonds, but West could ruff the third round and exit with a spade, leaving declarer with a losing club for down one.

If declarer had played on diamonds without cashing the trump king, West would again have ruffed the third diamond and exited with the trump queen. Cut off from dummy forever, declarer would eventually have had to surrender a club to East.

My rule is not to raise partner’s major with three without a ruffing value (so this would be an easy rebid of one no-trump over a response of one heart, for example). Here, I’m not so sure. Unless partner has at least three cards in both clubs and hearts, spades might play better — especially from his side. I can go either way, but I think I’d go with the field and bid one no-trump, with misgivings.


♠ K 10 6
 9 6 4
 A K Q 3
♣ 10 3 2
South West North East
1 Pass 1 ♠ Pass

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Reproduced with permission of United Feature Syndicate, Inc., Copyright 2018. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact