Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, January 2nd, 2018

It’s dogged as does it. It ain’t thinking about it.

Anthony Trollope

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


On this deal from an Open Pairs event a few years ago, Barnet Shenkin, formerly of Scotland, was the hero. He was playing with another Scottish expatriate, Sam Levinson.

Against four spades, West led the diamond king to Shenkin’s ace, and declarer played the spade king at trick two to East’s ace. Next came the diamond jack, followed by a third round of the suit, ruffed by Shenkin. Declarer got the bad news in trumps when he cashed the spade queen. Undaunted, he continued with a heart to dummy’s king (it would not have profited West to ruff a loser), followed by a club to his jack.

Shenkin then took the club ace and played a spade to dummy’s nine. East was already starting to feel the pressure, and it became unbearable when Shenkin cashed the spade jack.

In the four-card ending, what was East to do? A heart discard was out of the question, so he had to let go of a club. Shenkin then exited with the club queen, putting East on play in the two-card ending and forcing him to lead from his Q-10 of hearts into the tenace in dummy.

Did you notice the defensive resource? Shenkin remarked afterward that maybe he should have ducked the first trick to cut the defenders’ communications. Had East won the spade ace and given his partner a ruff by leading a suit-preference heart 10, West could then have underled his diamonds and received a second ruff.

This hand is far too good just to jump to four spades now. (You would make that call if the club ace were the diamond queen, for example.) You should cue-bid three clubs and follow up with four spades at your next turn to try to get your extra values across. This sequence doesn’t specifically say anything, except that it promises more than a direct four-spade bid.


♠ K Q 6 4
 A 7 6 4 2
 A 8
♣ A J
South West North East
1 2 ♣ Dbl. Pass

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Reproduced with permission of United Feature Syndicate, Inc., Copyright 2018. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact