Page 0006

ZIA Mahmood calls this 'Ross's Rule', after

California's Hugh Ross, a match-point specialist. At

teams and/or rubber you have to consider very

carefully whether as a defender to lead an un supported

ace vs a suit slam; you may set up

declarer's king and lose a second trick in the suit.

Arguably leading an unsupported ace makes

declarer slightly more likely to make his slam.

At pairs, however, it is normally fairly clear to lead

an ace vs a suit slam, for one simple reason: you will

not go to bed with it and let the opponents make an

overtrick. At pairs, letting them make an overtrick

can be extremely costly.

Take this four-table duplicate, with your oppo nents

having a slam:

Your MPs

Table 1 6´ making 12 tricks -980 6 MPs

Table 2 6NT making 12 tricks -990 3 MPs

Table 3 6NT making 12 tricks -990 3 MPs

Table 4 6´ making 13 tricks -1010 0 MPs

The defender who cashed his ace at Table 1, so

restricting declarer to twelve tricks in 6´, scored an

absolute top. The player at Table 4, who did not cash

his ace vs 6´ and never made it, scored an absolute

bottom.

Game All. Dealer South.

´ Q 10 8 5 4

™ K 9 4 3

t K 7

® Q 4

´ 9 6 ´ 2

™ J 10 5 2 ™ Q 8 7

t A J 9 4 3 t Q 10 8 6 2

® 10 3 ® J 9 7 6

´ A K J 7 3

™ A 6

t 5

® A K 8 5 2

West North East South

Pass 4´ Pass 6´

All Pass

Lead your tA and you'll make it. Declarer will wrap

up the remaining twelve tricks in double-quick

time, but at least you get your ace.

Say instead you begin with the ™J. Declarer wins

with the ace, draws trumps and plays out ®Q-A-K,

throwing a diamond from dummy. He ruffs a

fourth club, cashes the ™K, ruffs a third heart, then

cashes the estab lished fifth club and discards

dummy's tK. He ruffs his singleton diamond in

dummy and chalks up the lot. Rats.

HHHHH

Is there ever an occasion at pairs where you should

not follow Ross's Rule? Yes, there is. Say that from your

hand (and/or the bidding) you are sure no other pair

holding the opponents' cards will bid slam. You then

have just one priority: to beat it. If, by failing to cash

your ace, declarer makes an over trick, then you have

only earned yourself the same round zero you would

have scored by cashing your ace and restricting

declarer to twelve tricks. Because no one else is there.

Game All. Dealer West.

´ K 3 2

™ K 8 2

t A J 5 2

® A 6 2

´ J 4 ´ 7

™ A J 5 ™ 10 9 7 4 3

t K 10 8 7 t 9

® K J 8 7 ® Q 10 9 5 4 3

´ A Q 10 9 8 6 5

™ Q 6

t Q 6 4 3

® Void

6 English Bridge June 2015 www.ebu.co.uk

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Lead an Ace vs a Suit Slam by Andrew Robson

Pairs TacticsPairs Tactics

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Index

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