Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, July 20th, 2017

Life is not a problem to be solved, but a reality to be experienced.

Soren Kierkegaard

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


One of the arts in defense is to know when to be an optimist. If you need partner to have a specific card to beat a hand, then assume he has it and defend accordingly.

Here, when West led the heart three against three no-trump, East won his king and returned the heart 10 to dummy’s ace. South continued with a low club from dummy. East let declarer win in hand and South now switched horses by leading a diamond to the king and ace. At this point, the defense could do nothing to defeat South’s game.

However, at trick one East should have worked harder on his addition and subtraction. Since he and dummy hold 24 HCP between them, and South has admitted to at least 15 HCP, that leaves West with at most one point. To have any chance to set the game East must assume this is the heart jack.

Since East can see his partner has no more than five hearts, and that he needs to maintain communication with partner within the heart suit, East must follow with the 10, breaking a cardinal rule and finessing against partner.

Unless declarer has superhuman powers he will win his queen, and go after a minor. East should rush up with his ace and complete the unblock in hearts by returning his king to dummy’s ace. East will take his remaining ace at soon as he can, and revert to hearts to set the game.

And if declarer ducks his heart queen at trick one? Then find an easier game to play in.

Just because you have a minimum hand and only three spades does not mean you have to commit yourself to an action when you have no idea what is right (you might not feel the same way were your hearts king-queen doubleton, for example). Pass, and let partner decide what to do next rather than taking that decision for him.


♠ K J 10
 A 4
 K J 7 5
♣ J 10 8 2
South West North East
Dbl. 4 4 ♠ 5

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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