ACES ON BRIDGE
Men do not differ much about what things they will call evils; they differ enormously about what evils they will call excusable.
— G.K. Chesterton
In today’s deal, North-South drive to three no-trump, and West leads a fourth-best spade two, which carries more offensive prospects than a heart. This is covered by the 10, jack and ace. Declarer immediately starts on dummy’s clubs, leading the king and a small one. Since there are plenty of entries in dummy, East does not duck twice. After all, South could be on the verge of cashing five heart tricks.
When he wins his club ace, he must take stock of the position. West’s lead marks him with the spade queen or ace, leaving him with little room for red-suit honors. If he has the spade ace, the defense has four black winners, but whatever red-suit finesse declarer needs will be working. Since there is no hope if West has the spade queen and heart ace, East must assume his partner holds the spade queen and diamond ace and run the diamonds before declarer cashes out.
East sees the need to trap dummy’s diamond 10 if declarer holds queen-third; he therefore advances the diamond jack. Declarer wisely ducks that, in case West began with honor-doubleton, but it makes no difference. West takes the next diamond and returns the suit for a one-trick set. Had declarer covered the diamond jack, West would have won and returned the suit for East to snap up dummy’s 10.
Declarer might have done better to win dummy’s spade king at trick one, concealing the ace, but East should probably still shift when he gets in.
BID WITH THE ACES
ANSWER: Double. There is no rush to raise diamonds. Start with a negative double to get spades into the game. If the opponents have a heart fit, you would like to find spades so you can compete in that suit without raising the level. You don’t expect to make game here, but either spades or no-trump is almost as likely a final strain as diamonds.