Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Wednesday, September 5th, 2018

We think so because other people all think so,
Or because — or because — after all we do think so,
Or because we were told so.

Henry Sidgwick

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


In today’s deal, South has too much to pass his partner’s rebid of two spades. But since no-trump could easily be the right final resting place, he explores first with three clubs, then cue-bids the opponent’s suit, suggesting half a heart stopper. North looks with favor on his good controls and drives to four spades.

Now the spotlight turns to East, who must abandon traditional thinking. When West leads the heart four, the partnership methods are to play third and lowest. What that means is that West leads low from an odd number, top of a doubleton, but third highest from a four- or six-card suit.

After winning two heart tricks, East can infer that because West led his lowest heart, he has precisely three cards in the suit. (This inference is one not always available when playing fourth-highest leads.) What should he do now?

East has two potential club tricks with which to defeat the game, but will not make both if South establishes dummy’s diamonds for club discards. If declarer has the diamond queen, the defenders are helpless. But East must hope that is not so. To forestall the chance that dummy’s third trump might constitute dummy’s late re-entry, he must force dummy to ruff the third heart.

Should declarer then play to establish diamonds via a third-round ruff, East must save his club ace to take down the king. He must not capture the queen if South leads it out of his hand to tempt him.

If North were an unpassed hand, his one-heart call would be forcing. You would bid one no-trump now, both to try to improve the strain and to avoid missing out on game. Facing a passed partner, I might pass one heart if the call guaranteed a five-card suit, but I’m not sure it does. I’d still bid one no-trump here, though less happily.


♠ Q 7 5
 J 3
 A K 7 6 5
♣ K 4 3
South West North East
    Pass 1 ♣
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