Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, May 26th, 2017

The poor man who enters into a partnership with one who is rich makes a risky venture.


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



Today’s deal comes to me from a friend and collaborator in various bridge ventures, Neil Cohen. Neil had played the deal in a pairs competition online, so his focus was slightly different than the problem I will set you. This is to try to make nine tricks in three no-trump after West has shown hearts and a minor over your strong no-trump. North’s two no-trump call was designed to show the values for three no-trump with a heart stopper.

As Neil put it, using a baseball analogy, if you read West for the club ace, you can make nine tricks on a double steal.

Win the diamond lead in hand and lead a club to the king. (This is the first steal — West must duck or you can run the clubs for three tricks.) Then give up a club to East. Now, win the diamond continuation and lead a heart towards dummy’s king. This is the second steal, since West must duck again, or you will have nine tricks in the form of three spades, two hearts, three diamonds and a club. Once the heart king holds, you switch back to clubs, and make two clubs and one heart to go with your six tricks in the pointed suits.

Of course the simple club finesse would be an equally valid way to make the hand; but given the vulnerability and the fact that West has come into the auction facing a passed partner, the actual lie of the cards is perhaps slightly more likely.

Did you make a limit raise in hearts? I won’t say this will never work, but I see more points thrown away overbidding facing a major with a balanced 10-count than almost any other way. For your side to make game, partner must have enough to move over a ‘constructive’ raise from one to two. Bear in mind, one of your queens rates not to be pulling its full weight. Just bid two hearts here.


♠ Q 9 6
 K 9 6
 Q 8 6
♣ K 10 7 4
South West North East
  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