Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Wednesday, August 7th, 2019

Logic is a large drawer, containing some useful instruments, and many more that are superfluous. A wise man will look into it for two purposes, to avail himself of those instruments that are really useful, and to admire the ingenuity with which those that are not so, are assorted and arranged.

Charles Caleb Colton

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


Defense may be the hardest part of the game, since partner’s hand is concealed, but sometimes logic will help you out. Declarer wins the opening diamond lead in hand with the king. He next plays a club to dummy’s queen and East’s ace. What should East do now?

At the table, East returned a heart. Declarer won with the ace and ran all his trumps. His last five cards were four spades and a diamond, while dummy kept three spades and ace doubleton in diamonds. East wanted to keep four spades and two diamonds, but had to discard from one suit or the other, and either would be fatal.

Could East have done better? Yes, he had a chance to break up the squeeze by playing a second diamond when in with the club ace. West might have started with a singleton diamond, in which case the contract would have been beaten immediately. Furthermore, even if West had a doubleton diamond, although declarer could win a cheap trick with dummy’s 10, he would not be able to cash the ace without letting West obtain a ruff. His best play would be for spades to break, and when that did not happen, he would be one down.

Note that declarer could have succeeded anyway by starting with a high trump from hand at trick two. East wins (it does not help to duck) and must play a diamond. But now declarer can guess to draw West’s last trump with the club queen and cash dummy’s diamond ace, discarding his spade loser.

Nothing is perfect here. A jump to three diamonds would be pre-emptive, and a simple raise of diamonds would not keep the opponents out (and would not help my partner compete, if appropriate). I’d gamble with the slight overbid of two clubs, a cuebid raise promising limit-raise values. (A jump to three clubs to show a mixed raise – 6-9 high-card points and four trumps – is also a possibility.)


♠ 9 8 4
 Q J 9 8
 A 10 9 7
♣ Q 6
South West North East
  1 ♣ 1 Dbl.

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Iain ClimieAugust 21st, 2019 at 11:28 pm

HI Bobby,

On a purely single dummy basis (but given the bidding) should declared play a high club from hand at T2?



jim2August 22nd, 2019 at 12:17 am

I am not Our Host, but I think so. (Though I might have missed it at the table, of course)

Consider, if spades split, there are 12 tricks. The odds are huge that if spades do not split, that the long hand is East.

The opening lead (unless West is being silly devious) denies the missing QD, placing it in the East hand.

Thus, East is a clear favorite to be squeezed if spades do not split.

bobbywolffAugust 22nd, 2019 at 1:32 am

Hi Iain & Jim2,

Yes, I agree with Jim2 and would lead the J or 10 of clubs at trick two.

However, it somewhat depends on how good the declarer judges the defense. Against very good players, if declarer would lead a low club to the queen, he would get a low diamond back immediately after East grabs the club queen.

There are a few extraneous factors, such as the ace of clubs being with the 3H preemptor and of course, the distribution of the opening leader. However 2-7-2-2 is probably close to 50%, especially if West took a little time before he made the opening lead.

Very good defenders will seldom allow a make, if in fact they are given a chance.

IOW, I am playing for West to have no more than 2 clubs, to which I think declarer will succeed, since the squeeze will work, but in this case the defense will also know it and be prepared for the killing defense if given the opportunity.

At least to me, there is very little chance for West to have led the Jack of diamonds from QJ since to make such a lead can turn a sure set into a make, by the defense eventually, if not sooner, going wrong in the random discarding.