Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Saturday, July 8th, 2017

Hairbreadth missings of happiness look like the insults of fortune.

Henry Fielding

S North
None ♠ Q 7 6 2
 5 2
 A J 10 8 7 4
♣ 6
West East
♠ 4
 Q 10 6 4 3
 5 2
♣ K 10 7 4 3
♠ 10 5 3
 J 9
 K Q 9 6 3
♣ Q 8 2
♠ A K J 9 8
 A K 8 7
♣ A J 9 5
South West North East
2 ♣ Pass 2 Pass
2 ♠ Pass 4 ♣ * Pass
4 Pass 5 Pass
5 Pass 5 ♠ Pass
6 ♣ Pass 6 ♠ All pass

*short clubs, agreeing spades


Strong three-suited hands are always hard to bid. South opens two clubs, since he doesn’t want to risk being passed out by a weak hand long in either hearts or clubs.

North temporizes with a two diamond response, then jumps to four clubs as a splinter in support of spades. North’s strong bidding should encourage South to bid a slam. Indeed, South should really consider a grand slam, since North needs very little more than he actually holds for seven spades to be an easy contract. However, his partner’s diamond cuebid isn’t the most helpful news, and after two further signoffs South contents himself with the small slam.

That is certainly a good decision today, since with this particular combination of cards in the defenders’ hands, 12 tricks is more than sufficiently hard a target. In playing six spades, South should count winners rather than losers. This is the correct procedure whenever you expect to do some ruffing in both hands.

Best is to win the diamond ace at trick one pitching a club, then take the club ace and ruff a club, followed by the heart ace and a club ruff low.

The danger of the second club ruff failing to an over-ruff cannot be avoided, but the chance of a 6-2 club break is not that significant. When the club ruff stands up, lead a heart to the king, ruff a heart high, then a diamond high, and take a heart ruff with the spade seven. East can over-ruff, but declarer’s remaining trumps are high.

Opinions vary on what is acceptable for a pre-emptive opener, and what is not. You’d like a good suit for a two-level preempt in first or second seat, but you may relax the restrictions if the vulnerability is favorable. When you have a good suit, should a side four-card major stand in your way? It is up to you, but while I might pass in second seat or at unfavorable vulnerability, in first seat, I’d act here.


♠ Q 7 6 2
 5 2
 A J 10 8 7 4
♣ 6
South West North East

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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