Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Wednesday, May 17th, 2017

He who does not trust enough, will not be trusted.

Lao Tzu

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

*weak with either spades or hearts


The most challenging defense of the week from the US women’s trials in 1997 came Lisa Berkowitz’s way; put yourself in the East seat and see what you think.

As East you are defending to four spades after North has opened a multi two diamonds to show a weak two in hearts or spades, and South has jumped directly to four spades, to play. Partner leads the diamond king, and when you play the diamond queen, shifts to the diamond five. Your jack holds as declarer follows with the four and 10; over to you.

I do not know how to resolve the problem here. But it seems as if partner has led their middle from their remaining three small diamonds, in a position where the size of their card could be argued to be Suit Preference. Given that they had a choice of small cards, logic implies that her leading her highest of the small diamonds would ask for a heart ruff, and the low card would have called for a club.

Assuming partner might have shifted to a singleton heart at trick two, there is at least a case for the winning defense, of shifting to a trump. Berkowitz did this, and not surprisingly generated a game swing as a result, since in the other room West had led a top diamond and shifted to a heart at trick two, trying to cut dummy off from the hearts. As you can see, this was very much the wrong moment for that play.

Hearts looks like the right place to play here, so the question is whether to bid two hearts, three hearts or four hearts. The latter would be wildly optimistic, and unilateral, since partner could always raise three hearts to four if appropriate. Here, though, I think I would go low with a call of two hearts; your partner’s bidding and the opponent’s double are all danger signals.


♠ 6
 A K Q 9 7 5
 9 7 6 2
♣ 9 3
South West North East
  Pass 1 ♣ Dbl.
1 Pass 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