ACES ON BRIDGE
Part of the secret of bridge is drawing inferences from the bids that are made, as well as the ones that aren’t. In this deal from the Cavendish Invitational Pairs, playing with the late Sidney Lazard, Bart Bramley drew an interesting conclusion to bring home his delicate contract of four diamonds.
West led the spade king and continued with a low spade. Bramley put up the jack to see which honor East had, trying to develop a count on his opponents’ high cards. He ruffed the spade, then drew two rounds of trumps ending in dummy, and tried a club to his king. When that held, he led a third diamond to dummy and played a second club.
Michael Cornell, sitting East, took his ace and exited safely with a third club. Bramley won in hand, and now was able to assemble a picture of his opponents’ assets.
East’s cue-bid raise had shown a maximum pass; this meant that he likely held both the club and heart aces and the spade queen. So Bart decided he was not a favorite also to hold the heart jack. Since his partnership was playing the weak no-trump, East might have opened the bidding with that card in addition to his known 10-count, whether or not he had the club jack.
So Bart tabled the heart 10, and now whether West covered this or not, Bramley was able to make his contract. Had West put up his jack, declarer would even- tually have been able to finesse successfully against the heart nine.
Answer: The double followed by a cue-bid shows a really good hand asking for more information. In context, you now have enough to expect game to make. But without a four-card major and a club stopper, the route forward isn’t clear. I would return the favor to my partner by cue-bidding three clubs, hoping partner can provide us with direction as to which game to head toward.