Aces on Bridge


; 9 8 4

k K 9 7 4

l 7 5

' A J 7 4


; K Q 5 ; J 10 7 3 2

k 8 5 2 k Q

l K J 9 2 l Q 10 4

' K 8 5 ' Q 10 6 2


; A 6

k A J 10 6 3

l A 8 6 3

' 9 3

Vulnerable: East-West

Dealer: South

The bidding:

South West North East

1 k Pass 3 k Pass

4 k All pass

Opening Lead: Spade king

It is more useful to watch a man in times of adversity to discern what kind of man he is.

-- Lucretius

Declaring four hearts, the original South did not see the danger in today's deal until it was too late. He counted three side-suit losers on the lead of the spade king. He thus reasoned that the trumps would have to come in without loss, and the easiest way to achieve that was to find a 2-2 split. He could later ruff two diamonds on the board in order to bring home his contract. Looking no further, South won the spade lead and began the process of drawing trumps.

The singleton heart queen was both a blessing and a curse; the trumps could be played for no loser, but against accurate defense, declarer was no longer able to score the necessary diamond ruffs. He tried to recover by giving up a diamond, but West won that and returned a trump. Declarer ruffed a diamond but lacked a quick entry back to hand to ruff the fourth diamond, and he wound up one down after West returned a third trump. As the cards lie, it would have done declarer no good to try to build an extra club trick.

Declarer should have prepared his ruffs before drawing trumps, to allow for this particular 3-1 split (or to hold his losses to one down if trumps did not behave). It is best to duck the spade lead altogether, then win the trump shift and duck a diamond.

Declarer can take the second trump, play the diamond ace, ruff a diamond, cross to the spade ace and ruff another diamond. A spade ruff remains as an entry back to hand to draw the final trump.


South holds:

; 9 7 3

k J 9 6 5

l Q 5

' 10 8 6 3

South West North East

1 ; 4 k

Pass Pass Dbl. All pass

ANSWER: Lead the spade three. Give count in partner's unsupported suit to help him know how many rounds are standing up. It could be right to lead a diamond, but why would you look for ruffs when you already have a trump trick? You should lead the top from three small in partner's suit only when you have raised it (and thus implicitly denied holding a doubleton in that suit).

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