Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, June 6th, 2017

Do not consult anyone’s opinions but your own.

Samuel Pepys

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



The auction is straightforward enough on today’s deal, with South showing the equivalent of a no-trump opening with a stopper in the opponent’s suit. A transfer auction leads to the obvious game; but after a diamond lead, South can see only five trump winners and the two red aces in top tricks. He will need to bring in three club tricks to make his game.

A three-three break in clubs makes life easy; but South should try to protect himself against a four-two break in clubs. Since East is rather more likely to have the club ace as part of his opening bid, South should maneuver in clubs in the hope that East will be forced to sacrifice his ace without getting anything valuable in return for it.

South wins the diamond lead and plays a trump to dummy to lead a club toward his hand. East plays low and South wins with the king. Now declarer draws trump ending in dummy in order to lead another low club. This time East has no choice but to play his ace. It is then relatively easy for South to regain the lead with the heart ace, unblock the club queen and come back to hand with the spade king to discard dummy’s losing heart on his club jack.

As you can see, South would go down if he led clubs from hand prematurely. There would be no discard on the clubs, since the suit could not be established. Declarer would lose two diamonds, a heart, and a club.

Two schools of thought exist here. Those playing ‘Equal Level Conversion’ say bidding two diamonds over two clubs does not show extras. The second group says it promises a king more than an opening bid, so you must pass two clubs here. I don’t have a dog in this particular fight but I would bid two diamonds now, believing that a suit this good needs to get bid – even at the cost of a slight overbid.


♠ 8 5
 K 10 4 3
 K Q J 10 8
♣ A 7
South West North East
    Pass 1 ♠
Dbl. 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