The admonition not to trump your partner’s Ace may seem to be a waste of time on the part of the bridge teacher. Almost every budding bridge player would be insulted if he were told to avoid this embarrassing occurrence. Imagine how a veteran bridge player felt some years ago when he not only trumped his partner’s Ace, but revoked on the trick. However, there is practically no rule of play in contract bridge which should not be broken at the right time. The late Sidney Lenz once ruffed his partner’s Ace, and a lady kibitzer left the room in a hurry. She was heard remarking that she could not believe that any one could play so badly. “Why,” she said, “one terrible player actually trumped his partner’s Ace!” It is a good thing she was not among those present when the same player successfully managed to discard four Aces in a single hand. R. F. Foster, the oldtime bridge commentator, made quite a story of that deal in his column many years ago. The above thoughts and comments were occasioned by the following deal, which was played in a recent rubber game. The hand caused so much post-mortem dis-cussion that it was carefully reconstructed and presented to me for observation and comment. It is so unique that it should prove most interesting to many of you. The one outstanding feature is that East must ruff his partner’s Ace (the opening lead) in order to defeat the four heart contract by South. Here is the distribution: Dealer West All Vul
7 6 2 A K Q J 9 9 8 6 5 3
A 10 8 9 4 2 A Q J 10 7 4 2 Q J 4 3 10 6 3 2 8 7 6 4 3
K 9 5 A K Q J 8 7 5 10 5 K
West North East South
1 1 Pass 2
3 Dbl Pass 4
Pass Pass Pass
Openning Lead A West led his club ace as the opener, and East discarded a small diamond, with South playing his singleton King. West, recognizing that declarer will trump another club, and that his partner’s silence throughout the auction indicated no particular defensive strength, reasoned that his only hope for additional defensive tricks lay in the spade suit. Accordingly he led his ace of spades, hoping for a come-on card if his partner held the King. Such was not the case and South rolled up five odd and the rubber game. As a matter of fact, a small slam would have been scored by South if West had not shifted immediately to the spade Ace. Comment on the hand was occasioned when West inquired into the possibilites of a save, had he insisted on-sacrificing at five clubs —which he had actually considered. As the cards lie, West would have lost a spade, two hearts, a diamond and one club, or a set of three tricks — undoubtedly I doubled. Therefore it would not have paid off. West would have been unable to enter the East (dummy) hand for a spade finesse, which cost him one of the losing tricks. About this time it was discused that East had missed the opportunity of a lifetime. He could have defeated the four heart contract! When dummy went down, following the lead of the club Ace, it was possible for East to diagnose the perfect defense. He must realize that his partner cannot hold the club King, otherwise he would not have led the Ace. West’s opening bid of one club, and later courageous rebid at the three level, certainly indicated that he Iheld a long and powerful suit. But, he also must hold a quick trick. in one of the majors—and this could hardly be in hearts. For a sound opening bid he must hold the spade Ace, and if it were the Ace, then the perfect defense is obvious. Declarer must hold the club King, most likely a singleton. But it could be a doubleton, if West’s suit was but six cards long. In that event, East could ruff the second lead of clubs and still return the spade at trick three. But the danger of declarer’s club King being a singleton is too great to take the chance. If West holds the spade Ace, South the King and two more (which is extremely likely), East can defeat the contract immediately by trumping his partner’s Ace, and returning the spade Queen. By this strange and unusual play East would have made the metropolitan dailies, for he would have scored three spade tricks plus the ruff in clubs to defeat an almost sure contract. Nice playing if you think of it in time.