Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, September 19th, 2017

Is there in the whole world a being who would have the right to forgive and could forgive?

Fedor Dostoevsky

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

*guaranteeing values


Sometimes the cards allow for a slight inaccuracy, sometimes they are in unforgiving mood. Here they showed mercy to declarer.

In the qualifying rounds of the 1996 World Olympiad South Africa appeared to be heading for a big win until this deal came along.

In the closed room West opened two spades and the South African North bid three diamonds. South converted to three no-trump and West led two rounds of spades then accurately shifted to hearts; when declarer lost the diamond finesse, that meant two down.

On vugraph Krzysztof Martens as North doubled two spades, and that led to a contract of five clubs. Again an initial heart lead is best — but few of us could resist leading a spade with the West hand. Marek Szymanowski won this and had to find the best way forward – on the reasonable assumption that trumps might split badly but that diamonds would not, since West had not led a singleton.

At the table, Szymanowski finessed in diamonds at trick two. Now if trumps had been 4-1 a trump return would have left him without the communications to get 11 tricks. Unlikely as it might seem, you are much better placed to take a spade ruff at trick two and then lead a low diamond from dummy. If East wins and forces you again, then ruff and play two rounds of trump overtaking in hand. Even if trumps are 4-1 you can still come home by playing four rounds of trumps to East, pitching dummy’s hearts.

A negative double promises four spades here (and unlike when you double one spade you rarely cheat here with three). So what are the options? A stopperless one no-trump response does not appeal, which leaves a club raise. With a choice between two hearts as a limit raise or better, or a two club call, I go high – albeit with misgivings. (comments?)


♠ A 4 2
 7 3 2
 8 5 3
♣ A K 6 2
South West North East
  Pass 1 ♣ 1

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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