Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, July 19th, 2019

We must never assume that which is incapable of proof.

George Henry Lewes

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


After his forcing response of one no-trump, North shows a three-card limit raise in spades, which you as South can comfortably raise to game.

You take West’s lead of the club queen with the ace and lead a low trump to the queen, which holds. When you cash the trump ace, West discards a club. What now?

You have three certain losers — two trumps and one diamond — as well as two more potential ones in hearts and clubs. The only hope is to run four heart tricks, discarding a club from table while East follows suit. (If East has three or fewer hearts, he can ruff in and cash the trump king, leaving you with a club loser.) Therefore, East needs to have at least four hearts, and under that assumption, you must play him to hold the heart queen. Basically, you need a layout like the one shown.

At trick four, play a heart to the ace and lead the heart 10. If East plays low, so do you. Next, you repeat the heart finesse and cash a heart winner to dispose of dummy’s losing club. A club ruff will be your eighth trick, and your ninth will be the diamond ace, leaving you with three low trumps in hand, which will suffice for your 10th trick.

If East covered the 10 of hearts with the queen, you would win the king, cross to dummy’s heart nine and lead a diamond to the ace. Next, you would throw dummy’s club on the heart jack and play as before.

I can think of no good reason to bid on. You have found a sensible fit at a sensible level; with the boss suit, you do not need to compete any further. If you pass and your left-hand opponent reopens, that will be the time for further bidding. Had your partner responded one heart instead, you might consider bidding one no-trump to keep the opponents out. But I think I would still pass.


♠ J 7 5
 A 10 9
 J 9 8 7 4
♣ A 5
South West North East
    Pass Pass
1 Pass 1 ♠ 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


Bob LiptonAugust 2nd, 2019 at 10:49 am

The quote today isn’t really to the point. The way to make this hand is to make assumptions…. and prove them through the play.


bobbywolffAugust 2nd, 2019 at 4:44 pm

Hi Bob,

Yes, the way you correlate today’s quote with the hand, there is no way to assume to be anywhere sure of success, but what else is new?

However. from a bridge point of view, and as you say, the declarer, in order to succeed, must indeed make an assumption, and then, although seriously wounded, follow through.

While the poor trump break was disappointing, a respectable declarer, if possible, is always better off, if the initial thrust fails, with an emergency contingent plan and this time, when it looked darkest, planning (or, if you prefer, call it fantasy), saw him through.

bobbywolffAugust 2nd, 2019 at 5:04 pm

Hi again Bob,

And, just to confirm, you are definitely correct with today’s bridge hand not conforming to the quote, but our game often does not lend itself to certainty, but only percentage choices, hopefully with a cavalry, as in this case, waiting to rescue.