Emma has an issue with aces. She does not quite like them. She once declared out loud: “Empty aces are useless. Each ace is only 1 trick”.

And from that moment, the aces kept haunting her:

“Show more respect to your aces! They are the best cards”, said her partner visibly outraged.
“They are indeed the best, since Jokers are not around”, confirmed her husband with a smile.

“Don’t look at an ace as if it’s worth just one trick. It’s often worth much more: It upgrades the cards you have in that suit by one rank: a King is now equal to the ace, if you have that ace. The Q is equal to the K, if you have all three, and so on…” advised her teacher.

But all these talks didn’t help. She always seemed to do the wrong thing, even on defense:

“Why did you lead the Ace if you didn’t have the K?”, shouted her partner and went on:

“You just promoted declarer’s King. Lead passive and later on, when he plays his King – you take it with your Ace.”

Emma tries to justify her move:

“I wanted to see the dummy…”.

Her partner got even angrier: “And if you make a passive lead– you think you won’t see dummy?”… he yelled so loud that everyone in the club could hear.

She went to her teacher, who confirmed her partner’s words and also gave her a piece of advice:

“Aces are very valuable cards. They are not there just to win a trick for you. They are also there to capture valuable cards from the opponents. Therefore, in most cases, try to avoid leading an unprotected Ace. Wait with it until you can cover an honor from declarer”.

Next time they played, this deal arrived:

Dealer North – None Vulnerable

There cannot be a more obvious lead than the club suitJ … a 5-card suiter, top of sequence and 2 Aces as entries to establish her long suit.

So she lead the club suitJ and declarer claimed 9 tricks the moment he saw dummy:

“I get 2 Clubs and 7 Diamonds. The rest is yours”, he said with a smile, folded the cards back into the board and wrote the score.

Partner was yelling as usual and Emma, still holding her cards in hand, was shocked at what she was hearing this time… just fractions of words among loud shouting

“Lead an ace?… but I don’t have the King…”, she heard herself responding.

Declarer came to her rescue to cool the spirits:

“When the bidding suggests that declarer has a long solid suit, and based his bid on FAST tricks (cashing his long and solid suit), you need to try an ACTIVE lead. An Ace, in other words. In these situations it often happens that declarer has a hole, an exposed suit, and leading the ace might help you find that hole. Say you lead the Heart SuitA. Partner can discourage by signaling with the Heart Suit2. Try theSpade SuitA next to see him encouraging with hisSpade Suit9. A Spade continuation from you – and you take the first 6 tricks on defense. Same as defending against a gambing 3NT opening, or if one of your opponents bids a side suit which seem solid enough for them to pull trumps and discard all their losers on it. For instance:

Lead a black Ace here to find your black tricks before declarer pulls trump and parks all his black losers on the good Diamond suit”.

Then he turned to Emma’s partner:

“Even if you are correct in what you are saying, it is wrong to bring it up the way you do. Scaring your partner will not make her better. Pay attention to how you discuss what went wrong, and you will see your partnership improving much faster”.

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