Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, November 29, 2010

Dealer: South

Vul: N/S


K 10 3 2

K Q 7

Q 9 8 3

A 6


J 7 4

J 10 9 6 5

A 7

7 5 3


9 6 5

A 8

6 5 2

Q 10 9 4 2


A Q 8

4 3 2

K J 10 4

K J 8


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

Opening Lead: J

“No man lives without jostling and being jostled; in all ways he has to elbow himself through the world, giving and receiving offense.”

— Thomas Carlyle

Today’s deal, from a team game, demonstrates the danger of thinking by rote as opposed to finding the right moment to break the rules.

Declarer knew that the textbooks said to cover an honor with an honor. When West led the heart jack against three no-trump, declarer covered in dummy; East won with the ace and returned his second heart. Declarer ducked in dummy but won the next heart. When West turned up with the diamond ace and an original five-card heart suit, the game had to fail.

Unlucky — but the contract was the same at the second table, after a similar bidding sequence. This declarer was prepared to give the deal the proper amount of attention. Again, the lead was the heart jack, but South ducked in dummy. He had reasoned that if hearts broke 4-3, he would have no problems, but if they were 5-2 with East holding the heart ace and West the diamond ace, the hearts needed to be blocked before the opponents could set them up. Right he was. And note that if the red aces were switched, West would get a cheap trick, but the contract would not be jeopardized since West would not have a re-entry.

Declarer’s line would lose if West had led from a heart holding of A-J-10-9-6 and held the diamond ace, but South correctly reckoned that had that been the case, West would surely have overcalled at his first turn.


South Holds:

Q 9 6
K 9 8 4 2
8 3
A 7 6


South West North East
1 Dbl. Pass 2
Pass Pass 2 2
All Pass      
ANSWER: Declarer has suggested six clubs and only three spades (or he would have bid spades at his previous turn), while your partner rates to have only two or three small hearts. My instinct would be to lead the diamond eight — the heart lead seems too likely to give up our side’s trick in that suit.


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David WarheitDecember 14th, 2010 at 5:10 am

Surely South should have rebid 2S instead of 1NT. This would lead to 3NT played by North, making 5! While it is true that South has 4-3-3-3 distribution, he has great support for spades and the worst possible heart holding.

bobbywolffDecember 14th, 2010 at 1:49 pm

Hi David,

What you say makes much sense and would be some expert’s choice. The contra side would argue that, for part score purposes, some hands would play better at the lower levels in NT, especially if the responder had a weak 4 card spade suit and, of course, a balanced hand.

In years past the Aces would have used computer symbolation which would produce thousands of hands enabling an analysis of what the choice of rebids would eventually lead to.

My guess is that the difference between the choice in question would be miniscule in result, since even on this hand, with proper play 3NT can be made, and sometimes the defense gets off to the wrong lead, not always choosing the best for its side.

In no way am I disputing your opinion, but rather instead, trying to only give the other sides view.