ACES ON BRIDGE
Wash your mind out with soap and water if you even thought of opening today’s North hand one no-trump.After North opens one diamond and jumps to three diamonds, South has to decide between passing and trying for the no-trump game. He has only an 8-count, but the diamond jack may be useful in establishing the diamonds. It seems right to me to take a shot at three no-trump.
Now let’s switch to the defenders: As West, would you consider leading the club queen? It is certainly the right suit to lead, but the queen is unquestionably the wrong card. The most likely way to beat the hand is by finding partner with a top honor in clubs, but if that is so, it must be right to lead a small club. It may be necessary to unblock the suit in several scenarios — for example, if partner has the doubleton ace, king or 10 of clubs.
Now let’s switch back to declarer’s seat. When West leads a small club, which club should you play from dummy at trick one?
If the clubs are 4-3, your play will be irrelevant; but the clubs pose no danger, since there are only three tricks for the defenders to cash. If the clubs are 5-2 with East having a significant doubleton double honor, you must play the ace to block the clubs. Try it out, and you will see that it works. You win the club ace and drive out the diamond ace, and the defenders cannot run clubs whether East unblocked his club king at trick one or not.
Declarer should be 4-5 in the black suits, and dummy will be weak with four spades. Since a trump lead would likely cost a trick (and partner might be overruffing clubs anyway), the real issue is whether to lead the diamond ace and continue the suit, trying to force declarer, or lead a heart. I vote for the latter.
When the sun sets, shadows, that show’d at noon But small, appear most long and terrible.