ACES ON BRIDGE
Today’s deal saw South declare six spades after North had upgraded his hand to a balanced 18-19 count by virtue of his great controls. When North showed his spade support, South cue-bid his heart ace and North continued his optimistic approach by using keycard and driving to slam.
West led the club 10, and it looked logical for South to try to set up hearts, planning to come to nine tricks in the majors and three tricks in the minors. The first order of business was to win the opening lead with the ace, then lead a trump to the king. Now declarer unblocked the heart ace, cashed the spade queen and drew the last trump by crossing to the spade ace.
Then came the heart king-queen, throwing two clubs from hand. Had hearts broken, South would have ruffed out the hearts and given up just one diamond trick. When the hearts failed to break, and with West long in hearts and thus potentially short in diamonds, declarer led a low diamond from the table without cashing the ace. East ducked his diamond king smoothly, and South’s diamond queen won the trick.
Now South crossed back to dummy with the diamond ace and led a second diamond back toward his jack for his 12th trick.
Had East been long in hearts, it would probably have been right to ruff a heart to hand and pass the diamond queen. That line guards against East being short in diamonds, with either the singleton or doubleton 10 or nine.
ANSWER: I am sure none of my readers would think of stopping short of four spades. But it makes good sense to bid four hearts instead of four spades right now. You do not necessarily expect there to be any more bidding. But if there is, wouldn’t you rather tell partner you were bidding four spades to make, rather than sacrificing? The jump suggests heart shortage and a good hand, not necessarily a slam try.
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A mind all logic is like a knife all blade. It makes the hand bleed that uses it.
— Rabindranath Tagore