Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Wednesday, March 22nd, 2017

An invasion of armies can be resisted, but not an idea whose time has come.

Victor Hugo

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




When South opens one no-trump, North knows that his side has the values for game. While some would blast three no-trump and let the opponents find the killing lead, purists would prefer to describe their hand and let partner decide where to play. After a minor suit transfer, new suits at the three level should show shortness; with a long minor and four cards in a major, you would start with Stayman.

When West leads the spade three against three no-trump, South should duck the first two spades, hoping the suit will block. If so, East will have to shift, leaving the spade ace in dummy.

As it happens, East’s doubleton double honor means the suit does block, and East therefore shifts to the heart 10 at trick three. When South wins his heart ace it may look natural to cash his top diamonds; but it would be fatal today.

When declarer plays a third diamond, West would take his queen to play a third spade. Declarer would be cut off from the heart king, and would thus come up a trick short.

Equally, South cannot cash his heart king before he gives up the diamond trick. West would unblock his heart queen and the defense could then run the hearts.

The paradoxical solution is to play ace then a small diamond at trick five. South can subsequently get back to his own hand with the diamond king to cash the heart king. Then he can re-enter dummy with a black suit ace to run the rest of the diamonds.

Your partner does not promise more than a five-card suit for this auction. Rather than leave him to stew in an unsatisfactory trump fit, I would bid one no-trump. With both opponents acting, this is not a try for game showing extras, it is merely an attempt to improve the contract.


♠ A 8 4
 J 9 7 6 5 3
♣ A 8 2
South West North East
      1 ♣
1 Dbl. 1 Pass

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Reproduced with permission of United Feature Syndicate, Inc., Copyright 2017. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact