Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, March 22nd, 2018

The universe is not hostile, nor yet is it friendly. It is simply indifferent.

Revenred John H. Holmes

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


Today’s deal shows a technique of declarer play that everyone should have at their disposal.

When the heart king is led against five clubs, South wins the trick and plans how to develop diamonds to maximum efficiency.

Declarer sees that he must establish the suit without losing out to a ruff or over-ruff. If the adverse diamonds split 3-3, one ruff will establish the suit, and it will be smooth sailing. The major worry is a diamond split of 4-2 or worse, with possible over-ruffs of dummy to contend with. The first issue is how many rounds of trumps to draw. Since the likelihood on this auction that anyone has one diamond and two or fewer trumps is nonexistent, it seems wise to go after diamonds relatively early.

Happily, declarer can play the diamonds so as to need only one ruff in dummy, allowing him to negotiate any 4-2 split. The first move is to lead a low trump, won by South, to be sure that the trumps do not split 4-0. Declarer then cashes the diamond king and ace, and leads a third round of the suit. If West discards or ruffs in, the cross-ruff is assured. If West produces the queen, South can ruff high and draw trumps, but when West follows with the diamond 10, it is essential today to discard the losing heart from dummy.

As the cards lie, West can do no better than return a heart; declarer ruffs low in dummy, gives up a spade, then ruffs the fourth diamond high in dummy, and claims the rest.

This hand warrants a sensible response of one spade to the take-out double. Your plan would be to compete to two hearts if the opponents bid to two clubs or two diamonds. You do not have a strong hand, but you have just enough to feel comfortable playing a 4-4 major suit at the two-level. You bid spades first so as to get the two suits in efficiently.


♠ K J 7 5
 10 9 4 2
 9 2
♣ 9 7 5
South West North East
  1 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