Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Wednesday, November 13th, 2019

Time is the school in which we learn, Time is the fire in which we burn.

Delmore Schwartz

N North
None ♠ A J 9 4 3
 K 3
 6 4
♣ J 9 8 6
West East
♠ 7
 A Q 5
 A Q J 10 9 7
♣ Q 4 3
♠ Q 8
 J 9 8 7 6 4
 8 5 2
♣ 10 7
♠ K 10 6 5 2
 10 2
 K 3
♣ A K 5 2
South West North East
    Pass Pass
1 ♠ 2 2 NT * Pass
3 ♣ Pass 4 ♠ All pass

*Four-card raise


Knowing his partner had a bust, West eschewed a club lead against four spades in favor of what he hoped would be a passive trump. South won in hand, cashed the spade 10 (West throwing the diamond queen) and led a heart toward dummy.

West could now place all the missing minor-suit honors with South, and the impending danger was clear. If he played small on the heart, he would eventually be thrown in, whether it be on the next heart (should South be 5=2=2=4) or on the third round of clubs (if South had temporized with three clubs on a 5=3=2=3 shape).

So West inserted the heart queen, hoping to create an entry to his partner’s hand with the jack. Declarer won dummy’s king and returned the suit, but East alertly hopped up with the jack to shift to the diamond two. Unwilling to present East with another entry, South played small. After winning cheaply, West cashed the diamond ace and played a third diamond, giving South a useless ruff-and-discard. West had seen his partner show an even number of hearts, so there was little danger in letting declarer pitch a club from either hand. When the club ace-king failed to drop the queen, declarer conceded defeat.

If West had played small on the first heart and been thrown in with the second heart, declarer could have afforded to guess incorrectly on a low club shift. Then, eventually, he could have put West back in with the club queen to open up the diamonds or give him a helpful ruff-andsluff.

You should overcall two spades. With fair values and a four-card suit on the side, this is a perfectly respectable overcall. Good things happen when you get the boss suit into the game, as your chances of winning the auction are good. If not, this is still likely to make it harder for your opponents to find their best fit.


♠ K 10 6 5 2
 10 2
 K 3
♣ A K 5 2
South West North East
      1 NT

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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 LiptonNovember 27th, 2019 at 11:57 pm

Although declarer played the hand well, he is trying for an error by the defenders. An alternate error to play for would be, after cash trumps, to start the clubs, playing the Ace and then a low one towards the dummy, playing west for Qxx and hope he will duck the queen, thinking east has the doubleton King. I don’t like this swindle as well as the one declarer attempts, since the one chosen requires both defenders to be on their toes.

Bob Lipton

Bobby WolffNovember 28th, 2019 at 2:03 am

Hi Bob,

However the so-called swindle you talk about in clubs, might just, in an IMP game, cause the hope for swindler to not return to compare scores if the queen of clubs, happened to be doubleton.

The alternative of silence instead, is also a very poor substitute.

Not that it might not, on occasion work perhaps over 1/3 of the time, but when it doesn’t and a cold game goes awry, teammates tend to do vanishing acts for future tournaments.

A V Ramana RaoNovember 28th, 2019 at 8:28 am

Hi Dear Mr. Wolff
Ironically, there is no defense for 3 NT by south which may sound outrageous ( any south who bids three NT on this hand perhaps should be barred from playing as it would be certain that he is clairvoyant). Bridge can often be very teasing

David WarheitNovember 28th, 2019 at 9:21 am

AVRR: If W starts out by leading D (or, of course, C or S), then yes, there is no defense. But if W starts by leading HA or Q, then there is a defense.

A V Ramana RaoNovember 28th, 2019 at 10:43 am

Hi David
Looks likes yes. If West leads A and Q of hearts, West can retain low heart , two diamonds and three clubs , East will retain four hearts and two diamonds on the run of spades. Similar position occurs if West leads Q of hearts but there is no defense if West leads low heart or even A and low heart . Sorry for a hasty post.

Bobby WolffNovember 28th, 2019 at 12:09 pm


You need not be sorry for a “hasty post”, since by doing so it becomes a fist cousin to somewhere between either a well thought out winning defense or conversely, a more in tempo losing one.

Many top line players criticize extremely long breaks by a defender during the play, but how else will brilliant and indeed, beautiful to watch,
very close contracts sometimes tumble. It is only when some of us abuse that privilege of slow but inaccurate thinking becomes wasteful to all, but realistically and while at the table, nothing will tell that noticeable defender. this is or is not the time.

IOW, we need to politely allow, to the too few players capable of executing it, if even to our personal inconvenience and especially to a player who is also quick to claim or concede when either is inevitable.