Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, April 24th, 2020


Iain ClimieMay 8th, 2020 at 9:32 am

HI Bobby,

How would you play today’s hand single dummy on a small heart lead (which is clearly not as helpful as it looks? One line would be SK, SA diamond hoping West has AQ. If West avoids the CK lead (difficult I agree) declarer will surely place East with a C honour and a minor H honour so the 1 in 4 chance (better on bidding) of both D honours onside looks fair.



Iain ClimieMay 8th, 2020 at 1:23 pm

Hi again,

Isn’t South running out of tricks regardless here, especially if trumps are drawn? 1H, 3S, 2C, 1D and 1H ruff still seem to leave declarer short. What am I missing?



A V Ramana RaoMay 8th, 2020 at 1:56 pm

Hi lain
Had West continued clubs, south does not have any play but on the friendly shift of diamond A and back, south can draw three rounds of trumps and play a club . West needs to play a honor , ducked in dummy. Now, even if West returns K of hearts, south wins, finesse in clubs, takes the diamond pitch ,and ruffing finesse in diamonds. He gets four spades in south hand , hearts A and one hearts ruff, diamond K and another established diamond by virtue of ruffing finesse and two clubs. Or rather, he loses just two clubs and A of diamonds
But, honesty, I am not finding a reason for West to switch at second trick to diamond A unless West and south were earlier good partners

MirceaMay 8th, 2020 at 4:14 pm

I’m wondering what was the reason for West to switch to DA at trick 2? From the auction, partner does not have much in high cards, if anything. Was there a chance that declarer will play the Jack from dummy at trick 3? Highly unlikely when East encouraged and D10 will be visible. What if East started with a singleton club?

On the other hand, what is the potential danger continuing clubs at trick 2? Maybe getting end played when declarer started with 10 9 empty in the suit?

bobbywolffMay 8th, 2020 at 4:39 pm

Hi Iain,

First, on the suggested winning line, the timing becomes right (with the third club, after ducking the second in dummy and throwing the second intermediate club from hand is to win in dummy, enabling declarer to be there for his losing diamond discard (and then ruffing out East’s diamond queen so that after ruffing one heart in dummy he will be able to throw his losing heart on the 4th diamond, now set up as good for the contract trick.

Yes, hyper complicated to explain, but a successful alternative against playing for the queen of diamonds to be with West.

Once declarer receives a small heart lead from West (yes a somewhat bizarre lead while holding a side KQJ holding in an unbid suit) declarer can effectively play West for the KQJ of clubs and the doubleton Ace of diamonds arriving at the death with the same ending as the actual play, although and of course, with a different set up. No doubt, the realization that West did not lead a club while holding KQJ would certainly convince all declarers to simply take the losing line of the finesse for the diamond queen, but then having the right to ask West what time it was, before the game, when he saw the hand records preventing him from leading the king of clubs from KQJ.

All in a day’s work, especially if one wants to alienate as many opponents as possible in only one game. My record is either 6 or 7, but I’m still alive, so perhaps that number may increase.

bobbywolffMay 8th, 2020 at 4:51 pm


Cashing the ace of diamonds at trick two is not as rare as one may think. In my much earlier days, around the time I was hatched, I had many different partners, one of which had the distinction of having never been end played in her life, although she had been playing for years.

Reason being is that, while on defense she led out all her high cards…aces first (if held) but all in order of which is highest (suits possibly random, but, if not, never known to me) so that by tricks ten or eleven, rarely lower than seven she had none left to be thrown in later. In addition she, when losing the lead would find a way to still get rid of her high cards, mostly so she would never have to worry about what to hold at the death, usually choosing between two deuces or close (neither being trump),

bobbywolffMay 8th, 2020 at 5:07 pm

Hi Mircea,

Long ago there was an advertising slogan “Ask the man who owns one” referring to a brand of car, but for your question’s sake it still might apply and may require you first find (can’t help} the West who switched to the diamond ace. No doubt some defenders might feel more secure taking their aces, since many have been known to lose them by not cashing, but to say such a thing could be thought of as being unkind to someone who may have done so for a legitimate reason (at least in their mind).

Possibly this West was in fear of losing her ace on an eventual good club set up by the intermediates played in clubs to trick one. Her play (diamond ace), then continued was probably to establish partner’s queen (if she had it) and then with East’s magic wand won a trick and then triumphantly cashed the setter with the Manchurian candidate (the movie about the queen of diamonds, hundreds of years ago).

Sorry about all my guessing with no real information.

Iain ClimieMay 8th, 2020 at 5:23 pm

HI Bobby,

Thanks and I love the time query.