Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, March 29th, 2011

Vulnerable: North-South

Dealer: South


A 7

Q J 8 7

A 8 3

A Q 9 6


Q 10 3

9 6 5 4 2

J 9 4

5 2


K 10 3

Q 10 7 6 2

K J 10 8 3


K J 9 8 6 5 4 2


K 5

7 4


South West North East
1 Pass 2 Pass
2 Pass 2 NT Pass
3 Pass 4 * Dbl.
4 NT Pass 5 ** Pass
6 All pass


**zero or three aces

Opening Lead: Club five

“Every time it rains it rains pennies from Heaven.”

— Johnny Burke

Often the easiest of contracts require declarer to plan for what might go wrong, rather than blithely assuming the sun will stay out for him.

When today’s six-spade deal came up, South took no time at all to plan his play and so took no time at all to go down. He decided, wisely, to reject the club finesse, so went up with the ace and played the trump ace. When the spades broke 3-0 offside, he had no hope of avoiding the losers in the black suits and was doomed to one down.

While the idea of preserving the finesse against East in trumps is a good one, there are some things that cannot wait at the bridge table, while occasionally drawing trumps must take second place. Here, South should have cashed the heart ace at trick two before playing a trump to the ace. If spades are 2-1, declarer draws trumps and claims 12 tricks. If East turns up with trump length, declarer finesses in trumps and takes his 12 winners. But when the unfavorable trump break comes to light, declarer has a second string to his bow. He advances the heart queen, intending to run this card and discard his club loser if East does not cover. If East does cover, declarer ruffs away the heart king, cashes the spade king, crosses to the diamond ace and pitches his club loser on the heart jack.

The defenders are helpless, and declarer loses just the one trump trick.


South holds:

K 10 3
Q 10 7 6 2
K J 10 8 3


South West North East
Pass 1
2 NT 3 4 4
ANSWER: Did you think about bidding on because of your spade void? You described your hand fairly accurately at your first turn, and you have no extra shape. It is up to your partner to decide which direction to go. For all you know, he may have been trying to goad the opponents into bidding game.


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John Howard GibsonApril 12th, 2011 at 10:39 am

HBJ : A lovely instructive hand involving the old adage ” why not take out a little bit of insurance “.

Not so long ago I would have set about trumps straightaway like a man who believes in kind breaks, and bridge gods always being on my side.

These days my thinking is based on the Gods being out to get me, and what if anything can now be done to counter their mischievous ways. Destined to lose a spade break to West on a bad break, then the problem of the losing club needs to be addressed FIRST.

bobbywolffApril 12th, 2011 at 12:23 pm


As usual, right you are, and especially in your order of thinking as well as your priority and care required for the eventual cure.

If only this hand had been presented correctly instead of full fledged gremlins setting in where the bidding showed East doubling and other erroneous activities. I am not sure what happened except in the original, only NS bid (East was shut out by North’s original 2 club response).

Apologies for the horrific confusion and thanks to you for analysing the hand as it was intended to be presented.

David WarheitApril 13th, 2011 at 7:53 am

After cashing the heart ace and spade ace, I would advance the heart queen no matter how spades have broken. The only thing that I can think of that could go wrong is if west had a singleton heart which seems almost impossible since a) east never bid with 7 hearts to the king ten and probably pretty good clubs, and b) west didn’t lead his singleton. In short, I stand a virtual 50% chance of making 7 with (virtually) no chance of going down. Of course, this would be de rigeur (French, your favorite foreign language) at duplicate.