Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, November 15, 2010

Dealer: West

Vul: E/W


K 7 6 4


A Q 3

A Q J 7 6


Q 10 2

J 7 6 3 2

K 10 2

8 3



A K Q 9 4

J 7 6 4

K 5 4


A J 9 8 3

10 5

9 8 5

10 9 2


South West North East
  Pass 1 1
1 3 4 Pass
4 All Pass    

Opening Lead: 3

“It is not the man who has too little, but the man who craves more, that is poor.”

— Seneca

Today’s deal has points of interest in both the bidding and the play. After West’s pre-emptive jump to three hearts, North is too good simply to bid four spades. (Remember, facing an overcall, a jump-raise is weak and shapely. It is not a limit raise, which one would show with a cuebid.) Since he could make slam opposite as little as ace-queen-fifth of spades and the club king, North bids four hearts to emphasize a strong raise to four spades, suggesting short hearts. South signs off in four spades, and the focus shifts to the defenders.

After West’s dutiful opening lead of a heart, East should shift to diamonds as the only possible point of attack. It is conceivable that the defense might establish a third-round diamond trick for themselves before declarer can set up the clubs for the diamond discards he needs. True, for this to happen, West must furnish at least the diamond king and a trump trick — but East loses nothing by trying for this remote chance.

Actually, this play (correctly followed up) gives the defenders a trick in each suit. If West is allowed to win the spade queen early on, he can play a second diamond, and declarer must now lose both a club and a diamond for down one. It does declarer no good to cash both top trumps and shift to clubs — East wins the club king and leads a second diamond. West can ruff the third club and lead to his partner’s diamond winner.


South Holds:

9 7 5 3
4 2
J 7 6
Q 9 7 4


South West North East
Pass 1 Dbl. Rdbl.
1 3 All Pass  
ANSWER: The best suit in which we can hope to establish tricks looks like diamonds to me, so I would lead the diamond six. There is also a good case for leading hearts to build extra trump tricks for our side, but that might allow declarer to pitch his losers on dummy’s heart winners.


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