Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, December 25th, 2017

Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. Three times is enemy action.

Ian Fleming

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


At the Dyspeptics Club, South may enjoy the luck of the cards, but he normally manages to find a way to make up for it in the play. On occasion, though, he does achieve a coup — not by employing masterful technique, but with his lucky rabbit’s foot.

Here, when South heard his partner respond one spade, instead of raising to three spades, he allowed his balanced shape to tempt him into a rebid of two no-trump. When North raised to three no-trump, South decided to pass rather than convert to four spades — a fortunate decision today.

Against three no-trump, West led the club five, and declarer won cheaply in hand. Now South could sensibly have played on either red suit. Instead, though, declarer cashed three top spades, then got off lead with the ace and another club. West won and started to cash his clubs.

You can see the effect — while North parted with two hearts, South could throw a spade and a heart. Then West would be stuck on lead, and would either have to concede a trick to the heart king or solve declarer’s problems in diamonds.

Alas, South ruined a good story by claiming to have won the fourth round of clubs with his small spade in hand. It emerged that South was trying to declare four spades, and it was only inadvertently that he had found the perfect play to ensure nine tricks in no-trump. It is sometimes better to be lucky than good, I suppose.

Whether playing teams or pairs, it helps to decide before you lead if you are looking to go aggressive or passive. Here, since dummy is a passed hand, I’d opt for a relatively passive approach. That said, you are surely going to choose between the majors, but a spade combines leading a long suit with a much smaller chance of blowing a trick. I’d lead the five, second-highest from four small.


♠ 9 5 4 3
 A J 5 4
 Q 3 2
♣ 9 5
South West North East
  Pass Pass 1 NT
Pass 3 NT 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