Exercise 5G81   Main

Aces and Spaces

  by Richard Pavlicek

Playing with a new partner in the Open Pairs, you had a good game in the afternoon and sit down for the final session. On the first board, you pick up the following hand as dealer with both sides vulnerable:

Both Vul
S A 7 5 2
H A 9 8 2
D A 8 3
C A 3

What is your opening bid?

One thing is for sure: You have a stopper in every suit! With both four-card majors, it is tempting to open 1 D; but it’s better to show the balanced hand and point count in one bid.

Opponents will pass throughout. Partner responds 2 D, which is a Jacoby transfer (showing hearts).

What is your next bid?

Normally, you just complete the transfer, but your hand has become stronger (in hearts) than the 15-17 you showed; so you tell partner the good news. Partner next bids 4 C, which shows a second suit and slam interest.

Your next bid?

This cooperates and shows your most convenient ace. Slam is likely, but there is no hurry; it will be much better if partner is the one to ask for aces. Sure enough, partner obliges with 4 NT, and you have agreed to play key-card Blackwood.

What is your answer?

This shows one or four key cards, and partner will know it is four from the strength of your bidding. Next, you almost fall out of your chair as partner jumps to 7 H. And you are the one who has to play it!

Exercise 5G81   MainTop   Aces and Spaces

West leads the D Q, and partner lays down a fine dummy. This is what you see:

Both Vul
H K Q J 6 5
D 4 2
C K Q J 10


2 D
4 C
4 NT
7 H

All Pass
1 NT
3 H
4 D
5 D
Lead: D Q Table
S A 7 5 2
H A 9 8 2
D A 8 3
7 H SouthC A 3

Not counting ruffs, how many top tricks do you have?

If trumps break 2-2 or 3-1, which suit will guarantee a 13th trick with a ruff?

After winning the D A (clever not to hold up), which top heart (ace or king) will you win first?

Oops! Bad news. West, on your left, shows out on the first heart. Thus, if you draw trumps, you will not have a trump left in your hand to ruff dummy’s last diamond (after pitching diamonds on clubs). This calls for a change in plans.

Which card do you lead next?

Instead of trying for a diamond ruff, you should play for a dummy reversal (ruffing in the long hand). All follow with low spades.

Which card do you lead next?

East covers with the queen and you win the ace. You next lead the S 5 and West plays the 10.

Which heart do you ruff with?

Good thing! East pitches a club.

Exercise 5G81   MainTop   Aces and Spaces

This is what remains with the lead in dummy:

North leads
H Q 6 5
D 4
C K Q J 10
H trump
win 8/8
S 7
H A 9 8
D 8 3
C A 3

How many hearts does East have right now?

Which card do you lead?

East follows low, and you win cheaply with the eight. You next lead the S 7.

Which card will you play from dummy?

I hope so! Anything else, and you are down immediately.

Which card do you lead next?

East plays the 10 and you win the ace. Things are looking good now.

Which card do lead next?

Excellent! Don’t forget that last straggler (East tried to fool you on the previous trick). From dummy, you pitch the losing diamond, and all the clubs are good.

Making seven! It might be helpful to lay out a deck of cards and replay the deal.

The missing hands:

S 10 9 6 4 3
D Q J 10 5
C 9 8 7 6
Table S Q 8
H 10 7 4 3
D K 9 7 6
C 5 4 2

Exercise 5G81   MainTop   Aces and Spaces

© 2004 Richard Pavlicek