Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Saturday, July 14th, 2018

There is suffering in life, and there are defeats. No one can avoid them. But it’s better to lose some of the battles in the struggles for your dreams than to be defeated without ever knowing what you’re fighting for.

Paolo Coelho

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


Today’s deal is from one of my more prolific correspondents, Tim Bourke of Australia. His partner had played a prosaic three diamonds here, down one. But in the other room, his North teammate found a balancing action, leaving South to declare four spades.

The diamond four was led to the nine and ace. Declarer tried a spade to the jack, queen and king. Back came the heart three, a clear singleton. Put yourself in declarer’s position and take it from there.

You must win the heart ace, draw the rest of the trumps, eliminate the clubs by taking the finesse, and then lead a diamond. East can do nothing but take two diamond winners, and South discards a heart on the third diamond rather than ruffing in. The next diamond concedes a ruff-and-discard as well as the contract, since declarer can discard his last heart loser.

Is that all there is to the deal? Not exactly! Let’s say East wins the spade king and, instead of leading a heart, plays the diamond king followed by the diamond queen. South ruffs the third diamond high, draws trumps and leads the club jack.

Assuming West covers, then declarer takes the club ace, cashes the queen and plays his last trump. West comes down to three hearts and one club, and declarer crosses to hand in clubs and leads a low heart toward the jack. Now West gets just one heart trick.

However, if in this version West ducks the club jack, the entries to achieve this position are no longer in place.

There is no right answer here, and your action may depend on the vulnerability, but my preference would be to go high rather than low. If non-vulnerable, I might throw caution to the wind and open three or even four hearts. Vulnerable, a call of two hearts seems sufficient.


♠ J
 K Q 10 8 7 5
♣ K 7 6 5 2
South West North East
    Pass Pass

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David WarheitJuly 28th, 2018 at 12:32 pm

The contract of 3D may be prosaic, but going down one isn’t. It should be down two without too much trouble and can even be defeated 3 double dummy (two rounds of clubs, both red aces and exit with a diamond. E draws trump and leads a S to J and Q. N exits with CA and E has 2 more S losers).

bobbywolffJuly 28th, 2018 at 2:01 pm

Hi David,

Yes, of course, but since this was just a reported hand from “Down Under”, obviously at the table where 3 diamonds claimed the contract, there became a miss defense, likely in the form of a spade lead and then perhaps South ducking the first heart led from hand in fear of declarer having 2.

Yes, no doubt ugly, but unfortunately just poor judgment, especially since before declarer got on lead, most of this hand’s mystery should have already emerged preventing South to even consider ducking that first heart.

However, for learning purposes, many hands, such as this one should be analyzed defensively to try and simulate what good defense can accomplish. This hand results in a good lesson on what not to do, but, since it was not the theme, vanishes into nothingness.

And BTW, in spite of the apparent weakness of North, his reopening 4-3-3-3 medium strength hand at the three level would not be everyone’s choice, but please everyone take note of what can happen.

Everyone, of course, but Jim2, who already knows that if he was sitting North when 3 diamonds by his LHO was passed around to him, the other 39 cards around the table, would only be getting ready to migrate, depending on what he chose to do.

bobbywolffJuly 28th, 2018 at 2:17 pm


And just perhaps if President Trump also ruled over the entire worldwide bridge competition, my guess is that Jim2 would definitely give him his vote for his well known strictures regarding general migration.

bobbywolffJuly 28th, 2018 at 3:50 pm

Hi David,

Sorry, 3 diamonds in the other room was down 1, not claimed to make.