Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, September 9th, 2019

He’s a muddle-headed fool with frequent lucid intervals.

Miguel de Cervantes

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


This week’s themed deals are based on mandatory falsecards in defense. When it cannot deceive partner, or if doing so will not matter, it may pay to try to lead declarer astray.

South somewhat prematurely committed to six spades instead of six diamonds here; then he had to make it. Having taken the heart lead in dummy, he focused on bringing the trumps in for one loser. There would be no problem on a 3-2 break, so declarer turned his mind to the possibility of a 4-1 split.

The percentage play here is simply to finesse the jack, gaining against the four cases of queenfourth onside compared with the one instance of a bare queen offside. This is what declarer would have done if West had followed lazily with the two. But West tried the effect of contributing the 10 at his first turn, offering declarer an alternative.

Seeing that he could now protect a singleton 10 to his left, declarer rose with the ace and returned the jack — and was mightily discomfited when East showed out.

South was just a little naive here. When the spade 10 or nine appeared, rising with the spade ace was playing against the odds. And note that South had an extra chance even if he finessed into East’s four-card suit. After a club return, declarer would win in hand, cross to the trump ace and diamond king to ruff hearts, then try to run the diamonds. If East had been forced to follow to three diamond leads, declarer would have finished in dummy at trick 12 for a trump coup.

I would lead a club. Dummy’s long spades are looming for discards, and unless we cash our top tricks right away, we may never score them. Even though our respective lengths suggest that more diamond tricks will stand up than clubs, we need much less from partner in clubs. Arguably, the king might be the right card to offer up, allowing us to retain the lead if a diamond shift looks necessary at trick two.


♠ J 4 3
 7 3
 J 10 8
♣ K J 5 3 2
South West North East
Pass 1 ♠ Dbl. 2
Pass 3 ♠ Pass 4
All 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