Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, December 5th, 2017

There is only one real sin, and that is to persuade oneself that the second best is anything but the second best.

Doris Lessing

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


I am sufficiently senior to remember the days when jump overcalls were invariably played as strong bids, although not forcing. Nowadays, the fashion is to play weak jump overcalls everywhere one can imagine — and in some places one cannot.

In today’s deal, my partner as South took his pre-empting duties seriously. West led the diamond 10, and I wondered if we might have missed a slam when my partner ruffed in. I need not have worried, since it turned out that my partner had to work hard to make his game.

He drew trumps in two rounds, ruffed dummy’s remaining diamond, then got off lead with the ace and another club. West won with the jack, cashed the king and was faced with the choice of opening the heart suit or conceding a ruff-and-discard.

He made a fair try by eventually shifting to the heart 10. This went to the jack and king, and East played back the heart six, on which my partner took a good view when he tried the seven from hand. This forced West’s queen, and South’s heart nine became our 10th trick.

West explained, at length, how unlucky he had been to find his partner with the six rather than the seven of hearts; with the latter, his defense would have succeeded. True enough, but at least one player at the table had to bite his tongue to refrain from commenting that it would have been better to shift to the heart queen. Then, no matter what declarer tries, he must lose two tricks in the suit.

This may sound like a basic problem, but just to confirm the basics: If you play Stayman over an opening bid of two no-trump, you should also play Stayman after an overcall of two no-trump. So three clubs asks whether you have four spades. Accordingly, respond three spades, and let partner take it from there.


♠ A J 7 6
 A J 4 3
 K 7
♣ A 5 3
South West North East
    Pass 2
2 NT Pass 3 ♣ 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