By Val Rhead
LEADING ACES – WHEN TO DO IT – WHEN NOT TO DO IT
Your opponents are in a contract of Four Spades. You are on lead. You have four little Hearts headed by one big Ace. Will you lead the Ace, or not?
One player told me that she would lead the Ace, because her partner may have the King which he may lead later. Of course, the opponent may have the King, and it will now be capable of winning a trick for the opponents. Another person likes to lead the Ace because she won’t lose it when it gets ruffed later in the play. Sometimes this happens, but you play the odds in the game of Bridge.
I remember once playing against a pair, that when the bidding was finished, plunked out their three Aces, one after the other. Well, they did get three tricks. We also got three tricks, because now that the Aces were gone, our Kings were all good. It was a game of duplicate bridge so the hand had been played about eight times. Gazing at the travelling score card after the game, we saw that we had got exactly three more tricks than any of the other pairs playing the same hand.
If you read articles about “killing leads,” you will often find a statement to the effect that leading an Ace in a suit contract without the King is the second worst lead that you can make. The very worst lead is under leading an Ace in a suit contract. The reason why this is so bad is there is a chance that by the second round, your opponent or his partner will have a singleton in the suit and will trump your Ace. Of course, in some hands, you have no good lead. For example, what do you do if you have all four Aces? In that case, it’s necessary to pick the best of all the bad leads but lead an Ace. Of course, if your partner has bid a suit, it would be wise to lead the Ace in his suit.
There are exceptions. There always are exceptions in Bridge. If you hold both the Ace and King in a suit contract, it may be smart to lead them in case the opponents are short in that suit and can get a ruff. It is somewhat likely that the second honour will be ruffed if you don’t cash it in early. You could consider the Ace, King to be a sequence, albeit a short sequence. The top of a sequence is usually a good lead. In a three-card honour sequence, the opponents will get one trick and you will often get two. One advantage of leading the Ace from an Ace, King combination is that it gives you a chance to look at the dummy to help you decide how you are going to tackle the hand. You could also lead just the Ace, reserving the King as an entry card if your partner has a need to get into your hand later.
If your partner has bid the suit, the lead of an Ace of that suit would be desirable. The same applies if your partner has doubled an opponent’s artificial bid for lead direction. For example, one of the opponents bids Two Diamonds as a transfer to Hearts. Your partner doubles the Diamond bid because he wants a Diamond lead from you when you are leading.
If you are playing a No-Trump contract, some of these same restrictions are still valid. However, you don’t run the chance of losing your Ace to a ruff in a No-Trump contract. To the contrary, it may help you develop a long suit held by your partner if you lead the Ace when your partner has bid that suit.
Occasionally, it is a good idea to lead an Ace when it is blocking partner’s suit. I remember once playing against a No-Trump contract when I held the Singleton Ace of Hearts which was an unbid suit. It seemed probable that my partner held some values in Hearts. One of my opponents asked my partner whether our leads against No-Trump were standard. My partner said that they were. “That’s not a standard lead,” he said staring at my Heart Ace as it hit the table. It may not have been a standard lead, but it was the right lead in that situation. My partner did have a couple of high Heart honours.
You should always listen to the bidding. It makes sense to lead an unbid suit, especially an unbid major suit. If you have the Ace in that suit, it would be better to lead the Ace in a suit contract rather than to under lead it. Opponents are unlikely to miss bidding a major if it contains some values.
Always remember, Aces are meant to capture Kings and Queens, not Twos and Threes.
If you wish to promote an activity in your bridge group or ask a bridge question, send the information to [email protected] and I will try to include it in this column.
NEW SOCIAL BRIDGE GAME IN HUNTSVILLE
Games are at the ACTIVE LIVING CENTRE, THURSDAYS 7PM in the multi-purpose room 2nd floor (elevator) at the back entrance of the Canada Summit Centre. Just come – with or without a partner. For information, please contact Donna or Peter Tikuisis at 647 471 1774 or [email protected]
For now, this game will be played following Chicago Rules (allowing both fast and slow games). You will keep your same partner for the entire evening. Cost is $1.50 per person. Parking is outside the North Entrance opposite Heritage Village Railway Station.
PORT CARLING SOCIAL BRIDGE CLUB
Games for the Port Carling Social Bridge Club are Monday afternoon 1pm at the Port Carling Community Centre, 3 Bailey Street. Please arrive with your partner at least 10 minutes before game time. For information, contact Andree or Scott 705-764-3827 [email protected]
Monday Feb 25 cancelled because of the weather.
Monday, 1 PM, Feb.18th winners: Tied for First: Barb & John Brown 4290 points and Andree Baillargeon and Scott Staples 4290 points
HUNTSVILLE DUPLICATE BRIDGE CLUB
Games at the Huntsville Club are Tuesday afternoon 1pm, Trinity United Church 33 Main Street (side door, three steps up in the Hearth Room). Please arrive at least 15 minutes early. For information and partnerships call Liz Graham (705)789-7187 or email at [email protected]
The following winners are for Tuesday, Feb 26, 2019 with 5 pairs playing a Howell movement. 1. Mary Simonett and Kel Andresen; 2. Vern Foell and Rod Dixon; 3/4. Helen Pearson and Jim Smith; 3/4. Beryl Clayson and Paul Clayson
MUSKOKA DUPLICATE BRIDGE CLUB (Bracebridge)
Games for the Bracebridge Club are Mondays 7pm, Knox Presbyterian Church, 120 Taylor Road. Please arrive 15 minutes before game time.
The following winners are from Monday, Feb 25, 2019 with 9 pairs playing a Howell movement. 1. Helen Pearson and Betty Fagin; 2. Val Rhead and Joanne Garvey; 3. Mary Luke and Donna McIntosh; 4. Mary Mitchell and Isabel Hellberg; 5. David Bryce and Don Evans
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