Save the deuce

Jim Jacoby ( USA )

In 1968 Dallas financier, Ira Corn, decided to fund a full-time professional team for the express purpose of returning the Bermuda Bowl to the USA . The first two players to be selected for this project were JIM JACOBY and Bobby Wolff. It did not take long for the goal to be fulfilled. Jim Jacoby won the Bermuda Bowl in 1970 and 1971, the World Mixed Teams in 1972 and the World Team Olympiad in 1988. He was also one of the most widely syndicated bridge columnists in the USA . Unfortunately he died in 1993, a couple of years before his sixtieth birthday.


From our bridge infancy we learn to conserve our high cards carefully, using intermediates to promote smaller cards to winning stature. Since the normal object is to win tricks, the philosophy of play is to rid ourselves of low cards and preserve the higher ones to take tricks. In fact, there are many occasions when it is necessary to save your smallest cards, either to force a particular opponent to take the lead at a propitious moment, or to avoid being placed on lead yourself to disadvantage.

My BOLS tip is expressed in easy language. The deuce should be thought of, not as the two-spot, but instead, as the lowest remaining card in any particular suit. When the situation warrants it, save the deuce!


If I had written this article a year earlier, I might have used my own advice to improve my final position in the Staten Bank Tournament in The Netherlands in January 1990.


  West Dealer A Q J 10    


Love All

 8 6





 Q 7 5 3





 A 9 2









K 9 8 74 2     3



W                          E

 10 9 7 4 2

 J 9



 A K 10 8 6 4

 Q 7 6 4












 6 5





 K Q J 5 3










 K J 10 8 3


































As declarer I covered the jack of diamonds with dummy's queen, and then ruffed the second diamond with my three. In retrospect, I should be able to read the entire position: West held six spades, four clubs, had shown up with two diamonds, therefore must hold a singleton heart ... and what card other than the ace could justify a business double of Four Clubs from the great Zia Mahmood? So, a low heart from my hand would have made the going easy.

But I played the heart king. Zia won the ace and led the nine of spades. The ten of spades held the trick; now a club to the king and the jack of clubs, finessing. Then a spade to dummy, finessing again, and the ace of clubs was cashed. If Zia followed low to the ace of clubs, preserving his winning queen, I would have made ten tricks. I would play a heart to the jack, cash the queen of hearts, and throw Zia on lead with the club queen, forcing him to lead once more into dummy's ace-queen of spades. And he could not affect the result by ruffing one of the high hearts, since he would still be endplayed in spades.

But Zia knew about saving the deuce he unblocked the queen of clubs under dummy's ace. The contract now had to go down. How different it would have been if I had ruffed at trick two with the eight instead of the three! Zia might still unblock his queen of trumps, but my three would relinquish the lead to his four at the finish.


SAVE the deuce can also apply to communication blocking themes. Consider this:

  East Dealer Q J 10 7 6 3    


E-W Game

 A 6





 A 4





 10 5 3









9 8 4      A K 2

 9 8 4 3


W                          E

 K Q J 10 8 7 2

 Q 2




 9 8 7 2



 A K Q



















 K J 10 9 8 7 6 5 3





 J 6 4



Vulnerable, East opened Six Hearts and, non-vulnerable, South sacrificed with Seven Diamonds, passed around to East who doubled. Perhaps West should have read this as a Lightner double, but he opened up with a low heart. Declarer discarded his spade on the heart ace and played the queen of spades, king, ruffed with the five of diamonds (notice declarer was saving his lowest diamond). Declarer played the three of diamonds, West followed with the deuce, and declarer played the four from dummy. Now another ruffing finesse in spades and a return to the ace of diamonds, and suddenly the sacrifice bid at the seven level became a make!

Declarer played well, but West should have saved the deuce. If he puts up the queen of diamonds when the suit is first led, declarer will be deprived of his second entry to dummy. Note well that this is only the correct play when declarer leads the three. If declarer had led any other diamond, the traditional play by West stops the extra entry.

For more fun as either declarer or defender, and to get yourself written up in bridge columns, watch for those opportunities when you must save your lowest card. Remember my BOLS bridge tip:

When the situation warrants it, save the deuce!