Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, February 5th, 2013

It was great fun,
But it was just one of those things.

Cole Porter

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


In today's deal, North-South need to be able to judge the presence or absence of the two black jacks in order to see what level they should play at. If they had both of those cards, a grand slam would be the target, while with one of them, 12 tricks would be a cakewalk. However, with neither of them, some careful play is required for declarer to give himself every opportunity to bring home 12 tricks.

So how are you going to make six spades after the diamond-queen lead? Presumably, you start by drawing trump. When West shows out on the second round, the focus shifts to trying to avoid losing a club and a trump if neither suit behaves.

Since East has trump length, he rates to be short in clubs, if anyone is. (If he is long in both suits, it will be easy to play to ruff a club on the board.)

You need to protect yourself against both 4-2 and 5-1 club breaks. You cannot afford to have a club honor ruffed away, so play a club to the ace and a club toward your hand. It does not help East to trump in, since he would be ruffing a loser. Win the club king and cross back to dummy with the heart king to lead another club toward your hand. Again, it doesn’t help East to ruff, so he discards again. Now you can ruff a club in dummy. East can overruff, but that will be his only trick.

A jump to three hearts would be more about shape than high cards, and I would advocate this call if your heart 10 and diamond king were switched. Here, though, you have decent defense (in context) so I would simply bid two hearts, perhaps intending to compete to three hearts over three clubs.


♠ J 9 6 3
 10 9 8 5
 K 10 6 5
♣ 10
South West North East
1 2

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John Howard GibsonFebruary 19th, 2013 at 8:20 pm

HBJ : If you cash the top spade and see your LHO’s 10, then might you not suspect a singleton.
Enter dummy with a heart and take the deep spade finesse. If it works then over with a club to repeat it, making 5S, 3H, 3C and 1D.
If the finesse on spades fail then hopefully the trump suit is breaking 3-2, and the contract can still make……providing the clubs break 3-3…… or the player with 3 spades also has 4 clubs.
Does this line of reasoning have any merit?

GregFebruary 19th, 2013 at 8:53 pm

Hi John,
I think the line of our host is much better since all it require Cl no worse than 5-1 (given that West is short in Sp)

Your line can fail even if 4 clubs together with 3Sp in W hand. Having JTx W can easy play the T on first round win Sp finesse and return last trump killing Cl ruff.

DanielFebruary 19th, 2013 at 8:53 pm


My name is Daniel Jerold Kemp Jr. I never knew my grandfather Henry Kemp because he passed away before I was born. For years I’ve simply been trying to find out about my family history because my mothers side has a similar situation. I’m pretty positive Edith was my Grandpas wife. Although I’m a grandchild from his first marriage I would still like to hear any information about him i can find. If you knew or happen to know anyone that was close with Edith and you could put me in contact with them I would be greatly appreciative.

bobby wolffFebruary 20th, 2013 at 4:58 am


“Does your line of play have merit?”

Yes indeed it does, since it brings the contract home. Of course, the fall of the ten of spades should not, in itself, change the percentages from in favor of 3-2 to 4-1, but there used to be a common expression often used while I was running my own bridge club over 50 years ago, “When it comes to post- mortems let the winner explain”.

One thing for sure, your line is more colorful, not to mention, more exciting, than the column line.

Thanks for writing.

bobby wolffFebruary 20th, 2013 at 5:00 am

Hi Greg,

Thanks for adding what appears to be an explanation of what the best percentage line is and, more importantly, why.

bobby wolffFebruary 20th, 2013 at 5:17 am

Hi Daniel,

Of course, Edith Kemp, nee Seamon, nee Seligman, nee Freilich was one of my favorite people, certainly one of the five best all-time world class women players ever, and having played with her as my partner, can quickly add my vote to that evaluation.

Her nephew, Michael Seamon, also currently one of the USA’s top players, son of the late Billy Seamon, her brother, is the closest relative I know of hers, and surely if you contact the American Contract Bridge League (ACBL) in Horn Lake, Mississippi they will give you his current address and telephone number.

I would suggest that you talk to Mr. Brent Manley, ACBL Bulletin chief editor and, knowing Brent, he will be happy to help trace what you have every right to know.

Good luck to you and all I can add to what I said above, is that Edith was extra special in all positive ways, but unfortunately died a few years ago, having lived well into her 90’s while residing in Florida, but having continued to play bridge almost to the end.