Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, April 4th, 2017

The more original a discovery, the more obvious it seems afterwards.

Arthur Koestler

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


In today’s deal, facing a one diamond opener, North sensibly decided to drive his hand to game, thus responded two clubs. If his side wanted to play hearts it rated to play better from his partner’s side, and the fit could still come to light later. If you respond one heart you can never really describe your assets properly after that.

Now switch to declarer’s seat in three no-trump on a spade lead. After the spade queen holds at trick one, you have seven fast tricks. Where will you find two more? The right thing to do is to try the heart finesse first. When the heart queen holds, you might change tack from your original plan of playing clubs from the top.

The heart finesse is a discovery play, to determine the goal from the club suit, (in other words whether to play for 3-3 clubs or to protect against 4-2 clubs). By taking the heart finesse, you learn how to play clubs. When the finesse wins, you can afford to duck a round of clubs as your safest route to four tricks in the suit, given that dummy is entryless outside the clubs. If the heart finesse had failed, you would have relied on a 3-3 club split.

Incidentally if the hearts in dummy had been 10-9-6-3 you might have led a heart to the queen, then cashed the ace before tackling clubs, since if either the king or jack fell under the ace, you would have had a guaranteed route to nine tricks by setting up a third heart winner for your side.

A call of four clubs is forcing, showing five or more clubs and four hearts, asking your partner for cooperation in a possible slam. You don’t have quite enough to drive to slam, but by letting partner know what you have, you can try to engage his cooperation. Incidentally four no-trump by him at his next turn would be discouraging, not Blackwood.


♠ Q 9
 8 6 4 3
 9 8
♣ A K Q 6 2
South West North East
    2 NT Pass
3 ♣ Pass 3 ♠ 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