Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Saturday, December 15th, 2018

Why else lead a life of bad banquet dinners, cigar smoke, camp chairs, foul breath, and excruciatingly dull jargon if not to avoid the echoes of what is not known.

Norman Mailer

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


Today’s deal has the air of a constructed puzzle, doesn’t it? After the opponents have warned you of the risk of bad breaks all around (and North has shown a weak hand by doubling five clubs), you end up in the normal contract of five diamonds, having cleverly avoided playing your spade fit and running into a 5-0 break. As an aside, it makes sense to agree that after intervention at the four-level and higher, responder’s initial double is weaker than passing.

The defenders lead the club king; you win (nice play!) and take the diamond ace and king. Much to your surprise, it is West who has the doubleton diamond, and the carding in clubs suggests he has eight or nine cards in that suit.

Next you cash the heart king and ace. West follows up the line to suggest three, and no one is astonished when, on your (necessary) play of the spade king, West shows out, pitching a club.

East can do no better than win the trick and play back the spade jack. You win the spade queen then lead the club jack, throwing a spade from hand. That endplays West to give you a ruff-and-discard, which allows you to dispose of a second spade from hand. If East ducks the lead of the spade king, you lead a low spade and play low from dummy to put him on play. Since a spade continuation would clearly be fatal, he shifts to a club. Again, you again discard a spade and wait for the ruff-sluff to give you your 11th trick.

Do not look for complex solutions to simple problems. With nine top tricks in your own hand, just go ahead and bid three no-trump. Yes, there are hands in which you will score more in some other denomination, but here I would take the cash and let the credit go.


♠ K 7 6 3
 A K
 A K Q J 10 8
♣ A
South West North East
      1 ♣
Dbl. Pass 1 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


David WarheitDecember 30th, 2018 at 12:55 am

I note that EW can make 10 tricks playing either H or C. Favorable vulnerability. What thinkest thou? Should they get there, and if so, how? Of course assuming playing against a S capable of making 5D.

bobbywolffDecember 30th, 2018 at 4:43 pm

Hi David,

Your question does indeed require careful thought, some of which is not an answer at all, but instead is merely a process.

First, the art of preempting has little to do with worrying about both the right time to do it, and the most effective level chosen, but, instead, maintaining the discipline for now making partner the captain of all future decisions, should they arise.

Next to the bad news of the level chosen, mightily depending on both the vulnerability and the specific habits (hopefully either known or at the least and by experience what to expect from them).

The conditions on this hand in question are perfect for extremes (favorable vulnerability, an 8 card suit, instead of only 7 and headed by the KQ10 instead of the Q109 or less, plus a strong two bid by one’s RHO which only means an unlimited in potential hand TBD.

Therefore a jump to five rather than four seems, in most cases to be the perfect choice (possibly with the exception of playing against meek newbies who only want to get this round of play over so as not to embarrass themselves, making only bidding 4 clubs an alternate choice).

However, and I know you are aware as much as I am, the particulars, but I, of course, am writing for everyone who takes the time to be interested in this important concept.

Therefore, after chirping 5 clubs, you, as a bidder are through and though your partner is now representing your partnership in future decisions, you will only standby and accept his decisions.

That immediate above is not to be violated, except of unless, you, as his (or her) partner know that she has had no experience with preempting and its responsibilities, but, if so, only YOU will be not really playing bridge, but rather playing an unilateral game which belongs at other tables, not yours.

Therefore and back to the ranch with your question which will now be considered from East’s view. East holds a two suiter, leaving only diamonds (or possibly NT) for the opponents to have a safe landing, and from your standpoint the possession of two clubs rather than two diamonds or even one of each is unusual, but does (and, of course, should) strongly increase East’s influence into raising clubs since the trick potential for EW rises markedly, but who knows, as to how much.

For what happens from then on is up to Dame Fortune and her fickleness. However, as you and I know bridge can be devilish in its trick taking potential (suits being set up and utilized as against being stripped clean of all of one’s losers with no to little ruffing support from the short hand.

IOW, I have no idea as to what to do, but only that East is the one to do it in his partnership and who one is playing against is a rather large determining factor, since poker elements have taken over this bridge hand with psychology, the weapon of choice put to use.

Good luck to all who understand the above except, of course, if you happen to be playing against me while holding these cards.

eroxelJanuary 3rd, 2019 at 6:52 am

Sustain the great work and producing in the group! 3rd, 2019 at 7:09 am

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