Aces on Bridge


; Q 8 7 4 2

k 6 4 3

l Q 5

' A 10 3


; J 6 ; K 10 9 3

k A 9 7 2 k 5

l A K 9 6 3 l J 10 8 7 2

' 7 2 ' 9 8 6


; A 5

k K Q J 10 8

l 4

' K Q J 5 4

Vulnerable: East-West

Dealer: South

The bidding:

South West North East

1 k Pass 2 k Pass

4 k All pass

Opening Lead: Diamond king

This week, the focus is on retaining trump control. We will look at declarer's techniques first, before moving on to what the defense can do to combat declarer's best attempts.

After North's simple raise, South does not consider slam, but his concentrated two-suiter is worth driving to game. Against this, West kicks off with the two top diamonds. Declarer can accept the force by ruffing, but see what happens if he does that.

Declarer has no choice but to play on trumps, or he runs into a club ruff. However, West holds off his trump ace for the first two rounds and takes the third, having exhausted dummy of trumps at this point. He can then force the long trump holding again with a third diamond. South winds up two down, having lost trump control.

Note that it would not help declarer to switch to clubs after seeing East show out on the second trump. West would ruff the third round, and South would still be left with a loser in each suit. At least he would only go one down -- small consolation!

In fact, declarer should make the hand if he has appreciated the theme of this column. Instead of ruffing the second diamond, South should make the loser-on-loser play of discarding his spade at trick two. He can then absorb a further diamond force in dummy, the short hand, preserving his trump length in hand with which to draw trumps. His trump spots are good enough to deal with any potential uppercut in spades.


South holds:

; 10 6

k J 7 6 5 4 2

l A 10 8 7

' 9

South West North East

Pass Pass 2 NT

Pass 3 k Pass 3 ;

Pass 4 ' Pass 6 ;

All pass


ANSWER: Lead the heart five. West has shown the black suits and slam interest, but he has not suggested any red-suit control. Declarer surely holds the diamond king, so leading your ace could blow a trick. You cannot see a second winner yet, so try a heart as a reasonable chance to develop a trick without giving too much away. There is little point in leading a side-suit singleton when you have an ace.

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