Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, May 8th, 2017

First ponder, then dare.

Helmuth von Moltke

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


Some people play that South’s response of two no-trump would be invitational, so that with no major and 13 to 15 points, plus balanced distribution and stoppers in the unbid suits, he must bid three no-trump. Others play that two no-trump would be a minimum game force and a jump to three no-trump would be a strong no-trump.

All roads lead to the no-trump game, though, and after West leads the spade nine, South can see that he needs to set up clubs to make his contract. This will be easy enough if East has the heart ace. But South must try to develop a club trick without relying on a favorable lie of the cards, if he can.

Specifically, while trying to set up clubs, South must keep East out of the lead. If he does not do so, and lets East in, that player would be delighted to shift to a top heart and set up four tricks for the defenders in that suit.

South wins the spade lead in hand and goes after clubs. When West plays low, South puts up the king, comes to hand with a spade and leads another club. When West follows with the queen, South lets him win the trick. The clubs are now established, and South will be able to unblock the suit, and cross to hand to run the clubs.

If declarer had played clubs from the top, West could unblock his queen at his first opportunity. Now East would come on lead with the club jack, and sink the contract with a heart shift.

I don’t see any good reason not to lead diamonds, but I can see a good reason to break the rules and lead the queen. After all, if declarer has the jack it probably doesn’t matter which card I lead, and similarly if partner has the king-jack, but if partner has the ace-jack and dummy the king, leading a high diamond might work very well to run the suit on defense.


♠ Q 10 2
 J 6 4
 Q 10 3
♣ 10 9 3 2
South West North East
  1 ♠ Pass 2
Pass 2 NT Pass 3 ♣
Pass 3 Pass 4
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