Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Wednesday, May 31st, 2017

It is nice to have valid competition; it pushes you to do better.

Gianni Versace

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


Every year there is a junior tournament between England, France, Netherlands and Belgium for schools, girls and juniors. This deal proved to be the key in the England Juniors’ win over the Netherlands.

When West led the diamond seven against four spades doubled, East played three rounds of the suit. South, Ben Norton, ruffed the third one high, West following what seemed to be good technique by discarding.

He chose a high club to show an even number to signal count. But this proved to be a bad idea, because it tipped declarer off to the club position. Declarer realized West surely had some length in spades along with a doubleton diamond, and his discard of a club was not consistent with him holding the queen. Declarer realized that it might be a good idea to extract any trump East might hold, so he first led a sly spade 10 from his hand.

West might well have inferred that declarer had semisolid spades (since he had earlier ruffed in with the king) but could see little danger in ducking. South showed him the error of his ways by switching tack. He played ace and another club, putting up the king. When the queen fell, he could discard his heart on the third club, ruff a heart back to hand, and draw trump for plus 790.

In the other room East-West had bid on to five hearts doubled. This went two down for minus 300, so the swing was 10 IMPs to England instead of 9 IMPs the other way.

It is sensible to play your partner’s one spade call as forcing for one round by an unpassed hand. So here your partner surely has close to opening values and four hearts, or compensation in the form of extra strength. I would raise to three hearts, while secretly worried that my partner is more likely to take eight tricks than 10 in hearts.


♠ 5
 J 4 3 2
 A K J 6 5 3
♣ Q 5
South West North East
      1 ♣
1 Pass 1 ♠ Pass
2 Pass 2 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