Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, November 28th, 2017

There is nothing more likely to start disagreement among people or countries than an agreement.

E.B. White

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


Today’s deal features two elements of defense that everyone should try to focus on. One involves the proper use of honors; the other involves understanding the role of small cards.

Here, North-South bid smoothly to game in hearts, and West leads the diamond king. On this trick, East must follow with the queen, promising either a singleton or possession of the jack. With queen-doubleton, you would want partner to cash a second diamond and work out what to do from there; you can, however, drop the queen from queen-doubleton if dummy has the jack.

To beat four hearts, West needs a spade lead from East, setting up the spade king before declarer can force out the heart king, draw trumps and run the clubs for a club discard. At trick two, West knows he can underlead in diamonds to East’s jack. Moreover, West can lead the diamond eight, his highest diamond spot card as suit preference, to get East to shift to a spade.

When East wins the diamond jack and shifts to a spade, declarer has a choice of evils. He can finesse and lose a spade trick at once, or he can go up with the ace and cross to dummy to take the trump finesse. Either way, though, he is doomed to go down a trick.

This concept of suit-preference carding by the defense is one of the hardest parts of the game for intermediate players to grasp. But once you do, it is worth the effort, since the opportunities for using these signals are so common.

Your spade stopper is robust, your hand is not worthless and your partner has shown real extras. So you can invite game with a call of two no-trump. If your diamond seven were the queen, you’d drive to three no-trump. Note that the practitioners of Equal Length Conversion would not know if partner had any extras, since this auction might be based on five diamonds, four hearts and a minimum hand.


♠ Q J 7 6
 10 9 4
 7 5
♣ Q J 5 4
South West North East
  1 ♠ Dbl. Pass
2 ♣ 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