Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Saturday, April 27th, 2019

If the doors of perception were cleansed, everything would appear to man as it is: infinite.

William Blake

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


When South heard his partner balance over East’s one-diamond opening bid with a double, he did not have enough to jump to two hearts — see today’s Bid With the Aces problem. However, when his partner made a game try, showing real extras, South had enough to go directly to game.

West had a straightforward lead of the diamond jack, and declarer correctly ducked this in dummy. (If declarer covers, East will win and must then steel himself to play the diamond four to his partner’s 10. Now a club shift leaves declarer out of options.)

When the diamond jack held the first trick, West did very well by shifting to a club anyway, won by East’s queen. East exited passively with a spade to dummy’s king, but declarer now had a blueprint for the full hand. He unblocked the spade ace and led a heart to the nine. Then he took a spade ruff in dummy with a trump intermediate and cashed the heart queen.

If trumps had been 3-1, declarer could have run them all, reducing down to a three-card ending where dummy had the bare diamond king and the ace-10 of clubs, but he might have needed to read the ending carefully. East might make declarer’s life hard by baring his club king early, then pitching the diamond queen.

Instead, though, with trumps being 2-2, declarer simply drew all of them and led a diamond. He could cover West’s card, endplaying East to concede the game-going trick in one minor or the other.

It is worth emphasizing why your response maybe be different after a balancing double than after a direct-seat double. A direct double shows opening values or more; a balancing double may be as much as a king less than that. So, responder to the balancing double bids as if he has transferred a king to his partner. Here, responder jumps to two hearts; he would not do so facing a balancing double.


♠ J 3 2
 A K 9 8 2
 7 2
♣ J 9 8
South West North East
  1 Dbl. Pass

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Reproduced with permission of United Feature Syndicate, Inc., Copyright 2019. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact


Patrick CheuMay 12th, 2019 at 9:45 am

Hi Bobby, Re BWTA, Though North is 4th in hand and could have as few as 9+ pts for his double..South has a good five carder in hearts and 9-11(admittedly a few dubious jacks)should bid 1H what if Qxx AKxxx xxx xx or Qxxx AKxxx xx xx or Qxxx AKxxx (x) (xxx) does that warrant 2H? Think it’s hard for doubler to visualize 1H bidder hand if he does not jump with 5 carder and goodish 9-11? If North was 15-16 for his double and held AK JTxx K9xx ATx(15) would he still bid 2H over 1H? Regards~Patrick.

bobbywolffMay 13th, 2019 at 4:18 pm

Hi Patrick,

Yes, sometimes logic is not what it should be, especially in discussing bridge, when it is just coldly listened to.

The so-called balancing double could be shaded, not so much with game in mind, but just to either compete for a part score, or practically to force the opponents to compete higher than they preferred.

Naturally, while in the 4th position, one has the advantage of hearing his partner pass, which definitely limits his hand, especially for crazy aggressive players like you and me. Therefore, in a NY minute having passed AKxxx in a major suit I would jump to 2 hearts when and if partner balanced against his LHOs opening bid of one of a minor.

Sometimes, whether only in an oral bridge discussion or while writing sometimes logic gets lost in the translation, but one inviolet message for good bidding is do not make little mistakes such as not overcalling when one should (and being conservative, at least to me, is more damaging than being too aggressive) it then follows that after passing a 2 heart jump, while normally holding 5 of then is limited to no one level overcall.

Nothing too much more needs to be said.

Remember it is just too dangerous to pass when a decent reason for bidding is on the table (so to speak).

Patrick CheuMay 14th, 2019 at 6:27 am

Hi Bobby,Got the bidding all mixed up,cos I would have bid 1H over 1D(RHO)…in the first instance.I must be asleep.Apologies..Best regards~Patrick.