Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Wednesday, June 14th, 2017

Believe me, wise men don’t say ‘I shall live to do that’ tomorrow’s life’s too late; live today.

Martial


N North
E-W ♠ K Q 8 6
 K J 10
 9 5 2
♣ K J 6
West East
♠ 3
 A 3 2
 A Q 10 6
♣ 10 9 8 4 3
♠ 9 7 5 4
 9 6
 K 8 4 3
♣ Q 5 2
South
♠ A J 10 2
 Q 8 7 5 4
 J 7
♣ A 7
South West North East
    1 ♣ Pass
1 Pass 1 NT Pass
2 * Dbl. 2 Pass
4 All pass    

♠3

In last year’s European Championships West led his singleton spade against four hearts, for the six, seven and ace. He ducked the first trump and took the second round, East having followed with the six and nine. How should West choose to get his ruff?

Had East played the heart nine followed by the six, that would have been suit preference for diamonds. His actual sequence of plays might have indicated no special preference. So West tried a club, and was disappointed with the result.

You could argue a diamond shift needs West to find less from partner, but why not lead your diamond ace and see if partner encourages? If not, shift to a club and hope for the best.

At another table Cedric Lorenzini, North, declared four spades. The defenders cashed two diamonds ending in West, then shifted to the club 10. (A third diamond was best, and would have defeated the game by force.)

Lorenzini saw that if trumps were 4-1, he would have to play on hearts before drawing all the trump. The defenders would then probably be able to duck a heart and take a ruff. So Lorenzini won the club in hand and thoughtfully advanced the heart king. When East showed an even number of hearts, West won the first heart and continued the attack on clubs. Now declarer could survive the bad trump break.

In the other room declarer drew two rounds of trump before playing hearts; now West knew to duck the first heart and defeat the game.


This is a rare hand where I think many experts would reject overcalling in a five-card major and take some other action instead. If you bid hearts, the spades may well get lost, while passing is out of the question and a one-spade overcall is not my cup of tea. I would double, and blame partner if he cannot find a major to bid.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ A J 10 2
 Q 8 7 5 4
 J 7
♣ A 7
South West North East
  Pass Pass 1
?      

For details of Bobby Wolff’s autobiography, The Lone Wolff, contact theLoneWolff@bridgeblogging.com. If you would like to contact Bobby Wolff, please leave a comment at this blog.
Reproduced with permission of United Feature Syndicate, Inc., Copyright 2017. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, June 13th, 2017

In the End, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.

Martin Luther King Jr


N North
Both ♠ J 7 5 3
 Q 7 3 2
 —
♣ Q 7 6 5 3
West East
♠ 10
 A K 10 8 6 5
 A Q 2
♣ K 10 9
♠ K 4
 9 4
 K 8 5 4 3
♣ A J 8 4
South
♠ A Q 9 8 6 2
 J
 J 10 9 7 6
♣ 2
South West North East
    Pass 1 ♣*
3 ♠ 4 4 ♠ Pass
Pass Dbl. All pass  

*11-13 balanced or 17+

♠10

Today’s deal occurred in the European Championships from Hungary last year. In the match between England and Ireland (where there is always something more at stake than just victory points) both tables reached four spades when the first five bids were identical in both rooms. For England, David Bakhshi as West elected to try for the vulnerable game, and bid five hearts. When dummy appeared, he must have had high hopes. However after a spade lead and a diamond switch from South, ruffed by North, the 4-1 trump split took him one down, for 100 to Ireland.

In the other room the Irish West tried for a vulnerable penalty and doubled four spades. What would you have led with his hand? Hugh McGann made the right decision when he started with a trump, realizing the only way declarer could scramble any tricks was by a cross-ruff. Andrew Robson won in hand and slid the diamond nine on to the table.

When West fell from grace and played a small card, South let it run. East could win and return a trump, but declarer was now able to find a way home. He could ruff two diamonds in dummy, and the fall of the ace and queen meant he could establish the suit for 790 and a 12 IMP pick-up.

If West covers the first diamond, careful defense after that will allow East to regain the lead with the club ace and play a second trump, and now the defense prevails.


Despite your limited high cards, you are well worth a jump to four diamonds. This is an unusual application of the rule that in forcing auctions an unnecessary jump sets partner’s suit as trump and promises shortness in the bid suit. This is known as a splinter bid, and might be one of the most useful slam tools to be employed by the expert community.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ J 7 5 3
 Q 7 3 2
 —
♣ Q 7 6 5 3
South West North East
    2 ♣ Pass
2 Pass 2 ♠ Pass
?      

For details of Bobby Wolff’s autobiography, The Lone Wolff, contact theLoneWolff@bridgeblogging.com. If you would like to contact Bobby Wolff, please leave a comment at this blog.
Reproduced with permission of United Feature Syndicate, Inc., Copyright 2017. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, June 12th, 2017

In life as in a football game, the principle is: Hit the line hard.

Theodore Roosevelt


W North
Both ♠ 10 4
 A J 8
 K J 2
♣ A Q 6 5 2
West East
♠ A 9 8 7 6 3 2
 7 4
 A
♣ K 9 4
♠ Q
 Q 10 9 6 5 2
 Q 8 4 3
♣ J 8
South
♠ K J 5
 K 3
 10 9 7 6 5
♣ 10 7 3
South West North East
  1 ♠ Dbl. Pass
1 NT 2 ♠ Dbl. Pass
3 NT All pass    

♠7

This week’s deals all come from the 2016 European Championships, held in Budapest, in the scenic setting of a football stadium. The crowds were somewhat smaller than might have been the case at a soccer game, but one cannot have everything.

Host nation Hungary was on Vugraph on day one, and were somewhat fortunate to escape with a small pick-up here instead of a large loss, when in one room Romania bought the contract in two spades by West, down a trick.

Meanwhile, in the other room after the auction shown here, where North’s second double simply showed extras with no clear call, the Romanian South took a flyer at three no-trump, and bought a very suitable lie of the cards for his choice. Gabor Winkler led a low spade, and declarer won in hand and played a diamond, won by West’s ace.

South took the third round of spades in hand, and led a diamond to the king, followed by the diamond jack …and East, who had started life with queen-fourth of diamonds, thoughtfully ducked it. That was curtains for declarer, when the heart finesse was wrong, since he no longer had enough entries to hand to establish diamonds. Of course with the sight of all four hands we would all have unblocked the diamond jack under the ace at trick two, wouldn’t we?

(For the record, declarer could have recovered by taking the club finesse when in hand with the second spade, but his actual play made perfect sense; it just didn’t work.)


Your partner’s double calls for a diamond lead. It sounds like he has four or more decent diamonds and a possible entry on the side. Your choice is whether to lead the low diamond or the jack. Since you appear to have two possible entries on the side I would lead the low diamond, just in case declarer has a singleton honor.

LEAD WITH THE ACES

♠ 9 8 2
 Q 10 2
 J 6 4
♣ J 10 7 6
South West North East
  1 Pass 1
Pass 1 ♠ Pass 2 NT
Pass 3 NT Dbl. All pass
       

For details of Bobby Wolff’s autobiography, The Lone Wolff, contact theLoneWolff@bridgeblogging.com. If you would like to contact Bobby Wolff, please leave a comment at this blog.
Reproduced with permission of United Feature Syndicate, Inc., Copyright 2017. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, June 11th, 2017

My partner has criticized me in the past for leading away from a king. Do you have any cast iron rules on what combinations you should or shouldn’t lead from?

First Footer, Raleigh, N.C.

Never ever listen to anyone who advises you about not leading from certain honors. Leading or underleading unsupported aces against suits is very dangerous — but I have published deals where I thought it right. Meanwhile, leading from kings is right as often as it is wrong. I’d say beware of it ONLY when leading into a very strong hand. Simplest is to listen to the bidding and lead what feels right. The question of when to be passive and aggressive is such a hard one that no simple piece of advice will be a panacea.

My regular partnership mostly plays pairs scoring, and some Board-a-Match. It seems to me that part-score hands outnumber games and slams. If so, maybe competing accurately for partscores should be our top priority. Would it therefore make sense to build our system and agreements around a weak no-trump? Would that require major alterations to the rest of our framework?

Entry-Level, Jackson, Tenn.

I’m not convinced the weak no-trump would have a significant improvement in your ability to get in first. You lose some accuracy for the benefit of pushing the opponents to the two level. Having said that, the structural changes you need to make to the rest of your system would not be dramatic. Bear in mind you will be playing different methods than the field, though.

I recently held: ♠ K-Q-10-4,  Q-7,  —, ♣ A-Q-10-7-5-4-2 and opened one club. When my LHO overcalled one diamond my partner bid one heart, the next hand bid two diamonds, and I tried two spades, planning a rebid in clubs. I am still waiting…my partner passed, with three trumps to the jack and the club king plus the heart ace, so five clubs was cold, while two spades was a struggle. Who goofed?

Stop-gap, Penzance, England

With your distribution, it would be hard to believe the auction could end so abruptly. Had you bid anything else, you would have run a different kind of risk, one of not finding the best possible trump suit. Yes, maybe your partner should have played you for real extras in shape or high cards and gone back to three clubs.

Can you tell me why five-card majors are more in vogue than four-card majors? And under what circumstances would you introduce a four-card major as opener in first or second seat?

Litterbug, Augusta, Maine

Those who scoff at five-card majors tend to regard them as a security blanket. When you have one, it gives you a warm feeling, and your auction becomes more defined. Conversely, opening a minor without length is bad for constructive bidding. Bidding four-card majors first may be ugly, but it lets you get your blow in first. I tend to open one in first or second seat with four only with a very good suit in a balanced minimum opener. I’d plan to rebid at no-trump or pass a one no-trump response.

We missed our best spot yesterday and are trying to decide who underbid more. Opener held ♠ J-6,  A-K-J-7-5-3,  A-K-J-7-3, ♣ —, and after opening one heart and hearing a response of one spade, contented himself with two diamonds. Responder had a 4-2-3-4 shape with the spade ace, diamond queen and club jack, plus the doubleton heart 10, and passed. How do you evaluate what happened?

Petrified Forest, Wausau, Wis.

A more logical auction is for opener to jump in diamonds, then rebid the second suit over false preference to hearts. If responder bids four hearts, the auction will be over, if he cuebids four spades you should reach the diamond slam. This looks to be a good spot; it requires hearts 3-2 or a singleton heart queen.


For details of Bobby Wolff’s autobiography, The Lone Wolff, contact theLoneWolff@bridgeblogging.com. If you would like to contact Bobby Wolff, please leave a comment at this blog.
Reproduced with permission of United Feature Syndicate, Inc., Copyright 2017. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Saturday, June 10th, 2017

Government and co-operation are in all things the laws of life; anarchy and competition the laws of death.

John Ruskin


W North
Both ♠ A 3 2
 A K J 9 7
 8 4
♣ K 7 6
West East
♠ —
 10 8 6
 K J 3
♣ A Q J 10 8 5 4
♠ J 8 7 6 4
 4 2
 10 9 5
♣ 9 3 2
South
♠ K Q 10 9 5
 Q 5 3
 A Q 7 6 2
♣ —
South West North East
  1 ♣ 1 Pass
1 ♠ 2 ♣ 3 ♠ Pass
4 Pass 4 Pass
6 ♠ All pass    

♣A

When this deal came up North thought he was too good for a simple rebid of two spades. So he jumped to three spades, and South retaliated by leaping to slam, after a couple of cuebids. He received the apparently friendly lead of the club ace, East playing the club two to indicate an odd number.

At the table, South ruffed, led a trump to dummy and found the bad news. He took a losing diamond finesse, and won the club king, pitching a heart, to play the diamond ace and ruff a diamond. That passed off peacefully enough, but when he tried to cash hearts. East ruffed the third, and declarer was doomed.

If South places seven clubs on his left from the play to the first trick, he might decide to protect against the 5-0 spade break, by the somewhat unnatural play of discarding a diamond from his hand at trick one, in an attempt to retain control.

The defense does best to shift to a heart, and South wins the queen and crosses to the spade ace. When West discards, declarer leads a spade to the 10, crosses to a heart, and leads a spade to the nine. After drawing trump, he has 12 tricks.

The two keys to the deal are to count the 12 tricks in the form of one diamond, one club and five tricks in each major – so there is no need to ruff at trick one. The second key play is to lead a trump to the ace (not a high trump from hand) at trick two, to preserve the finesses in trumps against East.


You do not have to drive to three no-trump single-handedly; take a slower route by doubling two clubs, a call that is primarily for take-out. Over partner’s response you can bid three no-trump if necessary. As usual, though, it is better to follow a flexible route and to ask partner what he has rather than telling him.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ A 3 2
 A K J 9 7
 8 4
♣ K 7 6
South West North East
    1 Pass
1 2 ♣ Pass Pass
?      

For details of Bobby Wolff’s autobiography, The Lone Wolff, contact theLoneWolff@bridgeblogging.com. If you would like to contact Bobby Wolff, please leave a comment at this blog.
Reproduced with permission of United Feature Syndicate, Inc., Copyright 2017. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, June 9th, 2017

Everybody knows if you are too careful you are so occupied in being careful that you are sure to stumble over something.

Gertrude Stein


S North
N-S ♠ 6 3
 K J 7
 A 8 6 5
♣ Q 7 6 3
West East
♠ Q J 9 8 5
 5 2
 K Q J 10 2
♣ 2
♠ 10 7 4 2
 10 8 4
 7 4
♣ K 8 5 4
South
♠ A K
 A Q 9 6 3
 9 3
♣ A J 10 9
South West North East
1 2 * 2 ♠** Pass
3 ♣ Pass 4 Pass
6 All pass    

*Michaels **Limit or better in spades

K

When your partner shows a limit raise at his first turn to speak, then optimistically jumps to game rather than signing off in three hearts (over what is initially nothing more than a gametry of three clubs), you would be entitled to assume he will contribute just a little more than the uninspiring 10-count he puts down in dummy in your contract of six hearts. If it offends you to bid slam without using Blackwood, pretend you asked for aces or keycards before driving to six hearts.

At trick one you realize that with a sure diamond loser, the contract appears to hinge on the club finesse; assuming that it works, what can possibly go wrong?

If you work through the play in your mind before playing a card, perhaps you will spot the snag. Win the diamond ace, draw trump in three rounds, then lead the club queen, which holds, followed by a club to your hand. When this wins the trick with West showing out, you are stuck in hand with no way back to dummy to repeat the proven club finesse. And if you lose a club trick, down goes the contract.

Once you have identified the question, as Gertrude Stein would say, you have your answer. At trick two, take the club finesse by leading low from dummy to your hand. When it holds, draw trump in three rounds ending in dummy and lead the club queen from the board. Now whether East covers or not, the club suit runs for four tricks.


Although you have a great hand, you cannot really drive to game, since you need to find partner with a trick to be able to make game. If you jump to three hearts, partner should be able to work out that he needs little more than a king to bid on to game. Even a simple raise to two hearts here is a real game try, by the way.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ A K
 A Q 9 6 3
 9 3
♣ A J 10 9
South West North East
  1 Pass Pass
Dbl. Pass 1 Pass
?      

For details of Bobby Wolff’s autobiography, The Lone Wolff, contact theLoneWolff@bridgeblogging.com. If you would like to contact Bobby Wolff, please leave a comment at this blog.
Reproduced with permission of United Feature Syndicate, Inc., Copyright 2017. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, June 8th, 2017

Always leave them laughing when you say goodbye.

George M. Cohan


S North
E-W ♠ 10 3
 K 8 4
 A 9 8 5 4
♣ K 3 2
West East
♠ Q 8 7 4 2
 Q 10 6
 Q J 10 2
♣ 9
♠ J 9 6
 J 9 7
 6
♣ Q J 10 8 6 5
South
♠ A K 5
 A 5 3 2
 K 7 3
♣ A 7 4
South West North East
1 ♣ Pass 1 Pass
2 NT Pass 3 NT All pass
       

♠4

Today’s deal comes from Larry Cohen’s excellent new teaching book, on declarer play at no-trump (details at https://www. larryco.com/bridge-store/detail/ larry-teaches-declarer-play-atno-trump).

In three no-trump you have eight top tricks — the ace-king in every suit – so it would be disappointing not to find a ninth somewhere, wouldn’t it? You put up the spade 10 at trick one, but East covers with the jack. When you hold up, East continues with the spade nine, West playing the spade two. Which red suit will you work on?

It looks normal to try the longer suit, diamonds, first. That is fine, but the normal technique of ducking the first round of the suit is not taking advantage of all of your chances. If you duck a diamond, the defense will clear spades. Now, when diamonds break four-one, there is no time to switch to a Plan B. Instead, start diamonds by taking the ace and king. (You could make the case for leading low towards dummy, trying to pick up a singleton queen, jack or 10 in West – it being more likely that that player is short in diamonds than East).

If an honor appears, you lead low back to your hand, intending to insert the seven. And, for the record, if the diamond seven and six where switched you could never pick up any four-card diamond holding in East, so you would start by leading the king from hand.

When you discover the four-one break, you have time to switch your attention to hearts. The three-three break there sees you home.


You should ask your opponent about the double – but the normal meaning for it is that West has a solid major. Your partner should redouble with a stopper in both majors, so there is something to be said for being cautious and retreating to four diamonds. If you have fallen victim to a con-trick, you will at least know never to trust that opponent again.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ 10 3
 K 8 4
 A 9 8 5 4
♣ K 3 2
South West North East
    1 NT Pass
3 NT Dbl. Pass Pass
?      

For details of Bobby Wolff’s autobiography, The Lone Wolff, contact theLoneWolff@bridgeblogging.com. If you would like to contact Bobby Wolff, please leave a comment at this blog.
Reproduced with permission of United Feature Syndicate, Inc., Copyright 2017. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Wednesday, June 7th, 2017

Moral choices do not depend on personal preference and private decision but on right reason and, I would add, divine order.

Cardinal Basil Hume


N North
E-W ♠ A Q 5
 7 4
 A Q 6 2
♣ A Q J 4
West East
♠ 4
 A K 9 6 3
 J 10 9 7
♣ 8 7 3
♠ J 10 9 2
 8 5 2
 8 5 3
♣ K 5 2
South
♠ K 8 7 6 3
 Q J 10
 K 4
♣ 10 9 6
South West North East
    1 ♣ Pass
1 ♠ Pass 2 NT Pass
3 ♣ * Pass 3 ♠ Pass
4 ♠ All pass    

*Checkback

K

South might simply have bid three no-trump at his second turn without exploring for a spade fit here. However, given his partner’s atypical honor structure, his choice worked out fine.

Against four spades West led the heart king, to the four, and a discouraging two from East. Now West led out the heart ace, which drew the seven, five, and queen. West then made the apparently natural play of shifting to the diamond jack, letting South win with the king. After drawing trump ending in hand, declarer took dummy’s diamond honors, throwing a club from hand. He ruffed the fourth diamond in hand, East pitching a club, then discarded a club from dummy on the heart queen, East following with the eight.

South now decided that if East had begun life with four hearts, he might have pitched one on the fourth diamond, so he probably had no more hearts left. Instead of taking the club finesse, he threw East in with a trump, leaving him to lead into dummy’s acequeen of clubs at trick 12.

The key to finding the winning club shift at trick three was that East could have followed with the heart eight at trick two if he had wanted a switch to diamonds. The five should have suggested no preference or the lower ranking suit, clubs. Once you have signaled attitude or count on the first round of a suit, your choice between equivalent small cards may well constitute a suit preference signal.


Regardless of whether East intends his call to show a strong hand with diamonds, or the unbid suits, you are in a position to tell him he may have made a mistake. Redouble, announcing your side has the balance of high cards, and hope partner can raise you or take further appropriate action when the opponents bid on.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ K 8 7 6 3
 Q J 10
 K 4
♣ 10 9 6
South West North East
    1 Pass
1 ♠ Pass 1 NT Dbl.
?      

For details of Bobby Wolff’s autobiography, The Lone Wolff, contact theLoneWolff@bridgeblogging.com. If you would like to contact Bobby Wolff, please leave a comment at this blog.
Reproduced with permission of United Feature Syndicate, Inc., Copyright 2017. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, June 6th, 2017

Do not consult anyone’s opinions but your own.

Samuel Pepys


E North
E-W ♠ A Q J 10 2
 8 6
 7 5 4
♣ Q 6 3
West East
♠ 9 6
 Q 9 7 5 2
 9 3
♣ 10 9 8 4
♠ 8 5
 K 10 4 3
 K Q J 10 8
♣ A 7
South
♠ K 7 4 3
 A J
 A 6 2
♣ K J 5 2
South West North East
      1
1 NT Pass 2 * Pass
3 ♠ Pass 4 ♠ All pass
       

*spades

9

The auction is straightforward enough on today’s deal, with South showing the equivalent of a no-trump opening with a stopper in the opponent’s suit. A transfer auction leads to the obvious game; but after a diamond lead, South can see only five trump winners and the two red aces in top tricks. He will need to bring in three club tricks to make his game.

A three-three break in clubs makes life easy; but South should try to protect himself against a four-two break in clubs. Since East is rather more likely to have the club ace as part of his opening bid, South should maneuver in clubs in the hope that East will be forced to sacrifice his ace without getting anything valuable in return for it.

South wins the diamond lead and plays a trump to dummy to lead a club toward his hand. East plays low and South wins with the king. Now declarer draws trump ending in dummy in order to lead another low club. This time East has no choice but to play his ace. It is then relatively easy for South to regain the lead with the heart ace, unblock the club queen and come back to hand with the spade king to discard dummy’s losing heart on his club jack.

As you can see, South would go down if he led clubs from hand prematurely. There would be no discard on the clubs, since the suit could not be established. Declarer would lose two diamonds, a heart, and a club.


Two schools of thought exist here. Those playing ‘Equal Level Conversion’ say bidding two diamonds over two clubs does not show extras. The second group says it promises a king more than an opening bid, so you must pass two clubs here. I don’t have a dog in this particular fight but I would bid two diamonds now, believing that a suit this good needs to get bid – even at the cost of a slight overbid.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ 8 5
 K 10 4 3
 K Q J 10 8
♣ A 7
South West North East
    Pass 1 ♠
Dbl. Pass 2 ♣ Pass
?      

For details of Bobby Wolff’s autobiography, The Lone Wolff, contact theLoneWolff@bridgeblogging.com. If you would like to contact Bobby Wolff, please leave a comment at this blog.
Reproduced with permission of United Feature Syndicate, Inc., Copyright 2017. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, June 5th, 2017

How much easier it is to be critical than correct.

Benjamin Disraeli


N North
N-S ♠ Q J 2
 J 10 4 3 2
 Q 5
♣ 10 5 4
West East
♠ 10 9 8 3
 9 5
 J 9 4 3
♣ K 7 3
♠ K 6 4
 Q 8 7 6
 10 8 7
♣ Q 9 8
South
♠ A 7 5
 A K
 A K 6 2
♣ A J 6 2
South West North East
    Pass Pass
2 ♣ Pass 2 Pass
2 NT Pass 3 * Pass
3 Pass 3 NT All pass
       

*hearts

♠10

My first reaction on seeing the South hand in our local duplicate was to wish I was playing rubber. As it was, I could show 2324 points by opening two clubs then rebidding two no-trump, and North transferred into hearts and offered the choice of games.

I gave some thought to playing hearts on the 5-2 fit – the blockage in hearts suggested that 10 tricks might be easier than nine. Eventually, though, I decided not to mastermind things, and settled for the no-trump game.

The play is not especially complex; but put yourself in South’s shoes on the lead of the spade 10. I’m willing to bet that if this board were slipped into your local club game, at many tables North and East would take turns to cover the first spade. Declarer would win and knock out the heart queen, and collect his 10 tricks without realizing that two serious errors had cancelled one another out.

The point is that South should register that the entries to dummy are few and far between, so he must duck in dummy at trick one to preserve the spade queenjack as a sure entry to dummy. If declarer covers the first spade and East meanly ducks his king, how can you reach dummy twice (once to set up, and once to cash the hearts)? You can’t.

As an aside; next time you have a bad five-card major but a reasonable hand in response to a two no-trump opener, use Stayman if you don’t think a 5-3 fit is where you want to end up.


The principle of leading fourth highest against no-trump is ingrained in us all. On blind auctions, though, one should only take a good thing so far. Yes, lead from five-card suits, and sequences when you can. But when in doubt, as here, do not lead away from ace-fourth into a strong hand; there are so many ways that this will rate to cost a trick. Lead the spade two instead.

LEAD WITH THE ACES

♠ J 5 3 2
 K 9 5
 A 10 5 4
♣ Q 4
South West North East
      1 NT
All pass      

For details of Bobby Wolff’s autobiography, The Lone Wolff, contact theLoneWolff@bridgeblogging.com. If you would like to contact Bobby Wolff, please leave a comment at this blog.
Reproduced with permission of United Feature Syndicate, Inc., Copyright 2017. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

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