Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, May 11th, 2017

Henceforth I ask not good-fortune; I am good-fortune.

Walt Whitman

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


On today’s hand, North had enough values together with a source of tricks to assume slam must have decent play. With a balanced hand, there didn’t seem a particularly easy way to offer a choice of slams, so he simply bid six no-trump. However, one possibility might have been to transfer to diamonds then jump to five no-trump, offering a choice of slams.

You could forgive West for feeling that the chance of a diamond lead costing a trick was negligible. You can tell the fates are aligned against you when you are dealt a four-card sequence and find when you lead it that it costs you a trick – in a vulnerable slam to boot!

The lead certainly simplified declarer’s task; when he put up the ace, the bad break came to light. His projected 13 tricks had turned into 11, but South began by running the clubs. West had to find three discards, and two of them were easy when he let go hearts. Then he bared the spade jack, but two rounds of spades put him back under the gun.

Both West and dummy had reduced to two hearts and four diamonds. On the last spade winner West let go a heart, as did dummy. Declarer led a diamond to the eight and king, crossed to hand with the heart ace and led another diamond. West had to split his honors, and declarer ducked the nine, leaving West to lead away from the 10-6 of diamonds into dummy’s Q-7. Contract made!

After your restrained pass of three diamonds, your partner has shown extras. So you can hardly do less than drive him to game in the major of his choice by cuebidding four diamonds, asking him to pick a suit. Even a 5-3 major-suit fit should play well enough, you would expect.


♠ Q 10 9 4 3
 J 10 8 6 3
♣ 8 7 2
South West North East
  2 Dbl. 3
Pass Pass Dbl. 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