Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Wednesday, December 27th, 2017

I do not think that I am ever overconfident. I am merely wholly confident, and I maintain that there is all the difference in the world there.

Edgar Rice Burroughs

E North
None ♠ A K J
 A 5 3
 10 9 5
♣ 7 6 5 4
West East
♠ 8 5 2
 10 9 2
 J 8 7 6 4 2
♣ 10
♠ 10 9 7 6
 K 6
 A K Q
♣ K Q 9 2
♠ Q 4 3
 Q J 8 7 4
♣ A J 8 3
South West North East
      1 NT
2 2 NT* Dbl. 3 ♣
Dbl. 3 3 All pass

*Transfer (normally weak in one minor)


One of my readers, Jacques Guertin, sent me this deal, which I pass on to you with a couple of edits.

Let’s consider the defense against three hearts, after South has shown hearts and a minor and your partner has led the club 10. Your queen forces the ace, and declarer plays the ace and a second trump. You cash the club king, giving partner a club ruff. You take your two diamonds for one down … and then you wake up!

Your partner has competed to the three-level based on very little. He surely has a six-card diamond suit. Even if South hadn’t shown his clubs, the odds would have favored your partner having a singleton club 10 rather than a doubleton. Since West cannot have much in terms of high cards, he’d need some distribution to justify competing to three diamonds. The singleton club would be the most likely explanation.

So the key to the defense is not to waste a club honor at trick one. Play low and let South win the jack, then take the second heart and put the club king through declarer, ensuring two clubs tricks and a ruff plus one trick in each red suit, for down one.

This defense, of not collapsing your honors and your partner’s into a single trick, is one that you need to have in your repertoire. It often applies when your partner leads a queen or jack, which might be either a singleton or doubleton. Your defensive strategy may vary depending on whether you have side entries or need to take the ruff to set your opponents’ contract.

I prefer to play two no-trump as invitational, not forcing, here, but you can make an argument that you should bid two no-trump with this hand either way! More to the point, what other call can you make that shows this hand? A two-club call does not really describe it at all.


♠ A K J
 A 5 3
 10 9 5
♣ 7 6 5 4
South West North East
  Pass 1 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