Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Wednesday, August 16th, 2017

There is no such thing as applied sciences, only applications of science.

Louis Pasteur

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

*second negative.


Today’s deal is not especially challenging, but it does require a little care and attention. Against four spades the club king is led and ruffed. Declarer appears to be in decent shape so long as diamonds behave, but when declarer cashes the spade ace, and discovers the 4-0 trump break, he needs to be a little careful.

If he plays diamonds from hand by leading ace and another diamond, and finds West with a singleton, he might lose three diamonds and a heart. So he does much better to cross to the spade jack at trick three and finesse in diamonds, which is the best safety play against a 4-1 diamond break.

The diamond finesse loses, so declarer ruffs the next club and plays the diamond ace and another diamond. West wins and can play a third club if he wants, but declarer counters by discarding the heart four from hand. Now dummy’s spade six can take care of the next club, and declarer can cross to hand in hearts and draw trump to score his long diamond at trick 13.

Note that if declarer draws trumps at once, he runs out of trumps. Incidentally, had spades broken three-one, declarer would have cashed a second trump from hand and played the diamond ace, then crossed to dummy with the spade jack to lead a diamond towards his queen. This protects against all the four-one diamond breaks except those where West began with K-J-10-x, in which case there is nothing to be done anyway (without the sight of all four hands).

Partner’s double is just real extras; so it feels right to bid, not pass. In this sequence a call of four no-trump would be for take-out not natural or Blackwood. But it would normally suggest greater suitability for diamonds than this. I would therefore guess to bid five clubs, but in this sort of auction it may be more important to be lucky than good.


♠ —
 Q 9 8 5 3
 10 3
♣ A J 8 7 5 2
South West North East
      1 ♠
Dbl. 4 ♠ Dbl. Pass

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