ACES ON BRIDGE
In today’s contract of six clubs, focus on ensuring that your spade winners do not get ruffed away. Trump the heart lead at trick one and cash two high clubs from your hand. When East shows up with three, he is likely to be the hand short in spades, if anyone is, so take the spade king and lead toward the ace. If East ruffs, you can later cash the ace and ruff the fourth round of spades. If East discards, take the ace, give up a spade, then ruff the fourth round with dummy’s king. (If East ruffs his partner’s winner, he no longer has a trump to play.)
Your target is to protect your spade honors by following suit with your second honor after the defender with the last trump. Had you cashed the ace and led to the king, East would ruff, and you would lose another spade later. Had
West turned up with three trumps, you would have played spades by first cashing the ace from hand.
One other point is that you must retain a high trump in dummy to be able to ruff the fourth round of spades high. If you use dummy’s king to draw an early round of trumps, East can discard on the second round of spades and later ruff the fourth round with the club 10.
The alternative approach, of cashing just one round of trumps before playing spades, loses when trumps are 2-2 or 3-1 and you misguess who has short spades. It gains only when the same hand has singletons in both red suits.
ANSWER: What is the minimum in high cards and shape that will allow you to double a two-level jump overcall with imperfect shape? This is about it, but I prefer to bid two no-trump instead, and hope to find my way back to hearts if partner has extras and short diamonds. Passing here might cause us to miss game. Rightly or wrongly, I’m part of the school that believes in getting in a blow as early as possible.