Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, July 4th, 2019

In war there is no second prize for the runner-up.

General Omar Bradley

S North
None ♠ —
 10 4
 J 8 7 5 3
♣ A K J 6 3 2
West East
♠ Q J 10 9 7
 A K Q 10 2
♣ 10 5
♠ A 8 5 4 2
 K 3 2
 9 6 4
♣ 8 7
♠ K 6 3
 A Q J 9 8 7 6
♣ Q 9 4
South West North East
1 1 ♠ 2 ♣ 4 ♠
6 All pass    


Today’s deal provided an excellent test of timing for declarer, but the correct solution was found at only one of the two tables.

In the first room, a highly competitive auction saw South end up in six hearts after his opponents had bid up to five spades following a Michaels Cue-bid by West. After the lead of a top diamond, declarer ruffed in hand and trumped a spade in dummy, then finessed in trump. But there was now no way to avoid losing both a trump and a spade.

At the featured table, Fred Hamilton opened one heart with the South cards, West overcalled with one spade and North sensibly responded two clubs. When East jumped to four spades, Hamilton decided that since his partner had to be very short in spades, he probably had some hearts. So he made an imaginative leap to six hearts! Both East and West had some prospects on defense, so they elected to try to beat the slam.

Again, West led a top diamond; after ruffing, Hamilton found the play to make his opponents’ lives as hard as possible. At trick two, he led a low trump to dummy’s 10; when East took the trick, declarer was home free. Had East ducked smoothly, South would have led a second trump and hoped to guess which defender had ducked their king. It might not have been easy, but I would have bet on Hamilton to find his way home.

This auction is the equivalent of fourth suit forcing. You showed 6-10 high-card points or so, over which your partner showed real extras, initially asking you to rebid at no-trump if you could, or otherwise to make a descriptive call. Here, you can bid two no-trump; with as little as an additional spade queen, you might try three no-trump.


♠ A 8 5 4 2
 K 3 2
 9 6 4
♣ 8 7
South West North East
    1 Pass
1 ♠ Pass 2 ♣ Pass
2 Pass 2 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


bobbywolffJuly 18th, 2019 at 10:42 am

Hi everyone,

The defense to a hand like this will take immediate concentration and above all, lightening fast bridge logic.

Before following suit to partner’s high diamond lead, East, by rule, is allowed to consider the entire hand, which, of course is not only the first trick, but also and by all means, the bidding.

Upon doing so, East should imagine no less than a seven card heart suit to the AQJ with declarer, (jumping to slam with no support) as well as a void in spades and with the eventual intent to dump his diamond losers on that strong and menacing club suit in dummy.

Presto facto, while East knows his real chances of now setting this hand are slim, declarer can not be sure which opponent holds the precious heart king and may rely on his opponent or opponents to help him decide, knowing full well that he wants to lose that trick while he still has diamond protection with dummy’s 2nd trump.

Presto, magico, by entertaining those constructive thoughts it becomes logical, certainly not bridge suicide, to play a low heart quickly if and when declarer selects the line of play he took. If so declarer, whomever he may be, may well fear West doing what East should have done, duck and duck fast, forcing South to earn his slam by, shall we say, take another finesse, playing his RHO to be making a great play of ducking an easy trick presented to him. But, because of the obvious timing, relying on table action for him to determine who has the trump king.

If you’ll excuse me, by so ducking the king, by whichever defender had it, West with Kx or East with Kxx could be the mother duck, if not of all time, but at least one which can and will be remembered. Finally if West had started with the Kx of hearts and declarer had gone to dummy with a club to take a straight finesse, it would not have been that tough for West to duck from Kx as it might have been East, if, in fact, he had not been ready to do it, without giving its location away.

A short cut self-help to an experienced and clever defender might also be, when declarer is offering me a trick I am not entitled to, my opponent, not being in the habit of giving away tricks (particularly while playing a slam) is up to something, so why not do the opposite of what he suspects?

However, everything else being equal, which is not usually the case, it will take an indeed wily defender (again excuse me) to not rise to the occasion.

Also, and an altogether different subject, the Las Vegas Nationals starts tomorrow to which I am planning to play some, and although I’ll have Judy’s computer with me, I may be a trifle slow in responding to the next 10 day’s comments.

However do not feel that your questions or answers will not be appreciated, so if you have any, please keep ’em coming.

jim2July 18th, 2019 at 3:17 pm

That hand provoked a lot of discussion back in Lower Slobbovia.

All the declarers in 7H made it easily, while some in 6H found ways to do down.

Almost all those in 7C also made it. The few who went down received a “friendly” AS lead, which gave them the losing option of a ruffing finesse in hearts.

bobbywolffJuly 18th, 2019 at 5:46 pm

Hi Jim2,

Which proves that Lower Slobbovian dialogue (call it LSD for short) has always maintained that the worse the opponents defend (starting with the opening lead) the better they have a chance to do well.

Makes sense to me since I have reaped advantage for many years, causing them to tremble when it is my turn to begin the play.

PS: However the bad news, so does my partner.