Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, May 1st, 2017

A fool must now and then be right by chance.

William Cowper

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


In today’s deal South’s jump to three spades is invitational, and North has reasonable values for his initial response, so should go on to game. It is not clear whether North should try for game at no-trump, but if he were to bid three no-trump South would pass, of course, with no shortage. Since a club lead by East would give the defenders five tricks off the top, North’s decision to bid the suit game can hardly be criticized.

In four spades South must win the first diamond in his own hand, leaving dummy’s king as a later entry for a heart trick. He next draws one round of trumps, but must then try his luck in hearts.

When dummy’s heart queen wins, South can get back to his hand using dummy’s remaining trump. He then draws the rest of the trump and leads his second heart. West will take the heart ace, and must switch to clubs in desperation. This shift will defeat the contract if East’s clubs are good enough, and West can see declarer has 10 tricks if he does not make this play. The switch may surrender the overtrick, but it is surely worth the risk of investing an overtrick to have a shot to defeat the hand.

Note that West must shift to a low club in case today’s precise layout exists. If West plays the club ace and another club, declarer would survive today. As it is, though, the low club switch lets the defenders cash out the clubs for down one.

It certainly feels wrong to lead diamonds here. The question is if this double calls for a heart lead, or whether you must guess if partner has a solid suit —which would rate to be spades I guess. My best guess is to lead hearts; I’m prepared to look stupid. But the opponents might have run if they were off the spade suit – and partner might have acted at his first turn with good spades.


♠ J 4
 8 3
 A Q 9 6 4 3
♣ 9 5 4
South West North East
2 2 Pass 2 NT
Pass 3 NT Dbl. All 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