Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, August 12th, 2019

Thou art not for the fashion of these times, Where none will sweat but for promotion.

William Shakespeare

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


All this week’s deals share a theme of the defenders utilizing their trumps to unusually good effect. Two of the maneuvers available to the defense in trumps are the ruff and the uppercut. Logic argues that if one defender takes ruffs, his partner will be the one to obtain the promotions, but today’s deal shows East-West scoring well on defense with the defender who had taken the ruff also being the one who ended up with the promoted trump.

At just about every table, South in third seat opened a leaddirecting one spade on his four-card major. West risked a twoheart overcall, and North ended the auction with a two-spade call. I’m sure North was probably happy when he put down his dummy, but that didn’t last long.

After a diamond lead to the 10 and queen, East cashed his ace and gave West a ruff. Now came the heart ace and a heart to dummy’s king, after which declarer ran the club jack to West’s king. That player cashed the heart queen, then led another heart. Dummy ruffed with the six, and East over-ruffed with the 10, forcing declarer’s jack.

South next cashed the club ace and ruffed the queen in dummy, then led dummy’s last trump to the queen and West’s ace. When West led his last heart at trick 12, East ruffed in with the eight, forcing the over-ruff. The spade nine represented the third undertrick for plus 300 and a 90% board.

Two down would have been virtually an average board; maybe there is a message for all those third-in-hand openers!

I’d lead the heart eight. It feels as if partner has at least four hearts, so leading our side’s long suit should give us a decent chance to set up an extra trump trick one way or another. A club lead might achieve the same result, but that is more likely to cost a trick if it is doesn’t hit an honor in partner’s hand.


♠ Q 7 4 2
 J 9 8
 10 5
♣ K J 5 4
South West North East
      1 ♠
Pass 2 ♣ Pass 2 NT
Pass 4 ♠ All pass  

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Joe1August 27th, 2019 at 12:52 am

Bad luck happens. Flip E&W cards and 2S makes. If south doesn’t bid EW get a part score. Did anyone make a mistake here?

bobbywolffAugust 27th, 2019 at 1:17 am

Hi Joe1,

Agree with the bidding and just shows what happens when normal hands produce unlucky lies for either the declarer or the defense.

We need to learn to deal with both good and bad luck and treat those two imposters just the same.

Or something like that said differently (and not about bridge) but often happening in our game.

IMO, no mistakes but still a very bad result for NS.

David WarheitAugust 27th, 2019 at 10:27 am

Joe: Flip EW and S still goes down. They take the first 3 H tricks, then E leads a 4th H. S can successfully ruff high, but ultimately there is a trump promotion. Or more simply E can lead a D and ultimately get a D ruff. Poor S, the SA is onside, S are 3-3, the DAQ are onside, the CK is onside, and C break reasonably, and he still goes down. NS could, however, if the EW hands are reversed, make 2D.

bobbywolffAugust 27th, 2019 at 11:54 am

Hi David,

You, of course, are correct in your analysis.

Many hands, with part scores likely the most prevalent, are vulnerable to certain defenses, often with at least a tinge of luck, finding the right (or close) to winning combinations of cards.

My instincts are not to delve too deeply into results, but rather to lump many of these hands (almost all) into simply happenstance.

No doubt, a deeper analysis might result in a different view of early bidding, but then again, perhaps not. One specific fact (on this hand) is
that opening 1 spade third seat NV is the correct choice with, at least to me, no intelligent 2nd choice to be considered (even a weak NT, because of being vulnerable).

Perhaps I am off base, but the advantages (KQJ) offer a good lead, should we become defenders and, in addition tend to keep penalty doubles away, since the opponents do not possess them.

In any event, any deep thoughts about the pros and cons, often (at least to me) belong strictly in the twilight zone.

Not that you have commented anything good nor not so, about how the bidding transpired.