ACES ON BRIDGE
“Pride is a tricky, glorious, double-edged feeling.” — Adrienne Rich
Opponents’ two-suited openers and overcalls can throw a wrench in the works, but they are a double-edged sword. If you become declarer, they can help you to find the way home by drawing a road map of the opponents’ hands.
East’s two-spade opening showed at least five spades plus a five-card minor, and less than opening-bid strength. When South overcalled three hearts, North raised to game, so East decided that at this vulnerability he could do no more.
Not knowing which minor his partner held, West led the spade 10 against four hearts. South took the ace and king, pitching one of the losing clubs from hand, and now looked well-placed, but the possibility of bad breaks in the red suits was a live one.
In an attempt to score his small trumps, South led a club from dummy at trick three. East rose with the ace and accurately switched to his singleton diamond. South played the ace and followed with a successful finesse of the heart nine to maximize his entries to dummy. He ruffed a club in hand, re-entered dummy with the heart king as East pitched a spade, and ruffed North’s last club in hand, stripping West of all his black-suit cards in the process.
Declarer now cashed the diamond king, and when East failed to follow suit, South exited with a diamond. Although West could collect two diamond tricks, he was then forced to lead away from his heart queen into the trump tenace and concede the rest.
ANSWER: Not every minimum 6-4 hand is governed by the same principles, but I do have strong opinions about this specific hand. When you can bid both your suits and your four-card suit is strong (at least two top honors, or one top honor and good intermediates), bid your second suit and show nine of your cards, not six.