Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, June 27th, 2019

”Large streams from little fountains flow; tall oaks from little acorns grow.”

David Everett

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


In today’s deal from the match between Iceland and Denmark at the 2018 European Championships in Ostend, Belgium, the Danish West led a top heart against four spades. Declarer followed the normal line: He won the ace and took a losing diamond finesse. When East made the thoughtful return of a club to his partner’s 10, the contract was doomed. Declarer could not draw trumps and still ruff the required number of losers.

In the open room, West’s lead of his singleton diamond seven gave the declarer, Dennis Bilde, an outside chance. Dummy played the 10, and East won with the queen to return the diamond four (not his smallest diamond, which would have suggested a preference for clubs). When West ruffed, he duly exited with a trump, letting declarer draw the remaining trump. He cashed the diamond ace, throwing a club from hand, then ruffed a diamond to hand, squeezing West down to three clubs and four hearts.

Next, rather than simply playing for the club king to be onside, South cashed the heart ace and ruffed a heart in dummy, then ruffed another diamond in hand (West being forced to pitch a heart) and another heart in dummy. West, North and South were now all down to three clubs.

At this point, declarer ran the club nine from dummy. West could win with the club 10 but was forced to return a club into the split tenace. Bilde commented afterward that East’s return of the diamond four at trick two had persuaded him to play this line.

Double by you is for penalty here. With clubs or hearts, you would simply bid the suit; with a hand worth an invitation or better in hearts, you could start with an unequivocal cue-bid of two diamonds. Even if your right-hand opponent really has spades (sometimes he is psyching), a 4-4 spade fit might play just fine here for your side.


♠ K 10 7 2
 A 7 3
 6 3
♣ Q 7 3 2
South West North East
  1 Dbl. 1 ♠

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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


jim2July 11th, 2019 at 11:48 am

In BWTA, you stated the meanings of Double, 2D, and club/diamond bids. What about 2S and 1N?

bobbywolffJuly 11th, 2019 at 3:14 pm

Hi Jim2,

First, thanks for encouraging a more complete discussion of all options (other than pass or possible leaps).

Two spades might include the following:
1. s. x or. 2. s. void
h. QJxx h. Axxxx
d. Axx d. Axx
c. KJxxx c. Qxxxx

where on #1 we want to force to game, but make sure partner has 4+ hearts (a likely possibility before we give up on 5 clubs or 3NT).

and/or #2 where a rounded suit slam is very much in the mix since the pointed suits have almost perfect type holdings in the opponents
suits with, of course sensational unbid suits to mesh with partner’s best fit.

1NT should classically be something like:
s. K10 or not quite but still: s. Qxx
h. Qxx h. Kx
d. QJ9xx d. K109x
c. Qxx c. Jxxx

where the intent is to buy the hand and let partner know that this likely part score hand will be fiercely contested by us and that it is my intent to either outbid the opponents or push them high enough to get at least a one trick set. Those lower suit combinations should serve our purpose, especially for offense.

Finally and delving deeper: While holding
something like: S. x, h. KJxxx, d. Ax, c. Qxxxx
I will leap to 4 hearts (believing all the other three players around the table, and using East’s one spade bid, to my side’s advantage in that partner’s length and strength is more likely to fit my two long suits.

Although a spade psyche by my RHO is always possible it is nevertheless much more likely (my guess 90%+) to be legitimate, but indeed helpful in making my distribution and specific honor and short suit holdings even more valuable than the random point count might suggest.

IOW, when faced with hands such as the above, do not pass the buck back to partner but instead make a firm decision based on what partner is likely to hold, with strong consideration to what all of the other players have bid up to now (and only each once, but
at least to me, very revealing).

Again, I sincerely appreciate your probing questions since it gets into what most bridge books lack, the ability to evaluate different types of honors and key distributions, allowing bidding judgment to be the major goal, call it SOARING to success.