Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, December 11th, 2017

So we shall let the reader answer this question for himself: Who is the happier man, he who has braved the storm of life and lived or he who has stayed securely on shore and merely existed?

Hunter S. Thompson

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


In today’s deal, North could open three diamonds, but a 7-2-2-2 pattern is not ideal at this vulnerability. Having passed, he has just enough to risk responding three diamonds in competition. A fit for diamonds in the South hand will make the North hand worth six or seven tricks, and North does have some tolerance for hearts.

Thereafter, South has enough values and spade stoppers to be able to try three no-trump with some confidence there will be a play for game.

After a top spade lead, it looks logical for South to win and go after the diamonds. Ducking the first spade trick may not cost, but it has no clear upside, either. So at trick two, South leads the diamond queen, with the intention of letting it ride for a finesse. When West puts up the diamond king, South must resist the temptation to win with dummy’s ace, since he can afford to give up one diamond in order to safeguard the game contract. Giving up the first diamond to West guarantees the rest of the suit against any possible break.

South can regain the lead, whichever black suit the opponents play, then lead a diamond and run the suit. But note that if dummy won the first diamond, East would later win a trick with the diamond 10. And the diamond suit would now be dead since there is no entry to dummy.

The general rule is that where there is no side entry to a long suit, declarer may be better off giving up the lead in that suit early to retain communication.

There is no reason to assume that you must lead spades to kill heart ruffs in dummy; you ought to have time to shift to trumps if that is needed. I can certainly see the case for leading the club jack, playing for ruffs. Indeed, with such weak diamonds, I prefer the club jack over the diamond lead as the best way to set up winners in the minors. I’d probably lead a diamond if I didn’t have the club 10.


♠ A 8 5 2
 A 3
 10 7 5 4 3
♣ J 10
South West North East
    Pass 1 ♠
Pass 1 NT Pass 2
Pass 2 ♠ All 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