Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, August 11th, 2019

If you open one spade and the opponents intervene with two diamonds, what action would you take, holding ♠ K-Q-8-7-2,  K-Q,  Q-3, ♣ A-Q-J-4, when the auction comes back around to you? I assume the hand is too good for a pass, but what action covers the most bases?

Great Auk, Galveston, Texas

You should not pass, though defending two diamonds may be the only way to go plus — or yield the smallest negative. If you do bid, a call of three clubs is on the table — the problem being that it is such a committal action. Doubling for take-out and converting a response of two hearts to three clubs suggests this hand type, but that route also lets partner bid two spades over the double, or even pass.

Say you have ♠ K-8-2,  K-Q-7-6-5-4  Q-3, ♣ J-4. Do you pass, open at the one-level or open at the two-level, and what factors determine which way you should go?

Green Grouper, Eau Claire, Wis.

Non-vulnerable, this is just too strong to pass in any seat. Opening two hearts in third seat might see your side undercompete if the hand belonged to you. Vulnerable, I hate the weak spots and the side defense, so I’d open one heart, even if it might be a fraction too weak. Everything else, especially passing, seems worse.

I am interested in trying to acquire more master points. How do Swiss Teams work, and would they be a sensible way to go about achieving my goal?

Chasing the Dream, Ketchikan, Alaska

The urge to acquire points often exists in inverse proportion to the number you already have. But Swiss Teams are typically played over a single day, with multiple teams playing short matches. Your pairing is based on your day’s results, with matches scored not on a win-loss basis, but on a sliding scale where you can earn from 0-20 victory points. These points are accumulated over the whole event.

Holding ♠ Q-3-2,  Q-9-7-4-2,  10-8, ♣ A-Q-J, I assume you would not open the bidding. If you passed and heard a one-diamond opening bid on your left, passed back to you, would you balance over it, and with what call?

Backup Planner, Pierre, S.D.

Vulnerability or position might influence you; I’d open in third seat but not in first or second. If I passed, I’d certainly balance over one diamond at any vulnerability. I’d plan to bid one heart and consider balancing a second time with a double of two diamonds, if necessary, to get both black suits into play. That fifth heart is too important to conceal, and if I double, we may lose it altogether.

My partner has asked me to play Lebensohl, but I’m not sure I understand the implications. Can you explain the call and discuss in which sequences it is commonly played?

Cold Comfort, Fort Walton Beach, Fla.

After the opponents butt in over your partner’s one-no-trump opening or overcall, two-level calls by you are non-forcing. Three-level bids are strong, and two no-trumps puppets to three clubs — typically a weak hand with its own suit, but it may include some balanced or invitational hands. See https://www.bridgebum.com/lebensohl_after_1nt.php. These methods can be played after the double of a weak two-bid, but here, two-level bids can be a bust, while actions at the three-level are invitational, not forcing.


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 2019. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Saturday, August 10th, 2019

It is said that God is always on the side of the bigger battalions.

Voltaire


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

*Three key-cards

**Trump queen and club king

K

After South doubles two hearts, then bids spades to show a good hand, North uses Keycard Blackwood, then asks for the trump queen (finding it and the club king).

In six spades, South takes the heart king lead in dummy and, protecting against an adverse trump split, begins to elope with his small trumps. A heart ruff is followed by the three top spades, West showing out on the second round. Declarer, pleased to have made good use of his heart entry, leads a diamond to the king and ruffs another heart. East should not have more than three hearts after West’s vulnerable weak two, coupled with the odd count signal at trick one. On this assumption, declarer has a lock for his contract.

He cashes the diamond ace; if West discards, East will be marked with a 4=3=5=1 pattern, and declarer will cash the club king, then take a club finesse to avoid setting up East’s long diamond. As it is, though, everyone follows to the diamond.

Accordingly, declarer continues with the diamond queen, putting East in an impossible position. If he ruffs with his master trump, he will be forced to lead into dummy’s club tenace. East can discard a club, which would suffice if declarer had begun with only three diamonds. But today this only delays the inevitable. On the next diamond, East is faced with a similar dilemma. Either he ruffs and leads a club, or he discards again and lets declarer collect two club tricks for his contract.



The three-heart call suggests a weak hand with reasonably long hearts, making it straightforward enough to bid three no-trump, since you have the fourth suit guarded and no fit for your partner. Whether or not you can make three no-trump, no other game looks appealing.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ A K Q 5 2
 6
 A Q J 2
♣ K 5 3
South West North East
1 ♠ Pass 1 NT Pass
3 Pass 3 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 2019. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, August 9th, 2019

For early today to my utter dismay, It had vanished away like the dew in the morn.— Michael Flanders and Donald


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

*Two aces and the trump queen

♣Q

The modern style is to open a no-trump on in-range (and occasionally out-of-range!) hands when balanced or semi-balanced. So, hands may qualify that contain a five-card major, a six-card minor or even a 5-4-2-2 pattern with an awkward rebid or with its values concentrated in the short suits. The most inconvenient hands are those with a five-card minor and a higher suit, though hands with four spades are rarely a problem.

South was a purist, though, and opened one heart. When West pre-empted in spades, North cue-bid three spades to show at least a high-card raise to game. South cue-bid four clubs, letting North drive to slam via the obligatory use of Key-card Blackwood. Plan the play now.

Declarer takes the club queen lead in hand and, after drawing trumps in three rounds, eliminates the minors in preparation for an endplay. He can surely see that West has six spades headed by the king for his weak jump overcall — can you see the winning line?

South cashes the club king, ruffs a club and plays three rounds of diamonds. He then plays a low spade from both hands. If East is allowed to win, he must give declarer a ruff-and-discard, while if West wins, he has an equally unattractive option of leading around to declarer’s spade queen. Either way, the second spade loser vanishes.

Note that cashing the spade ace first, or leading a spade to the queen, would allow West to win and safely return a spade.



Your partner may not have much spade support, but your hand will surely play much better in spades than hearts. Imagine your partner with a singleton spade, and you can still score five tricks if that is the trump suit, whereas your hand will be worthless in hearts. So bid two spades now.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ K J 10 9 7 4
 6
 8 3
♣ Q J 10 2
South West North East
  1 ♣ 1 Pass
1 ♠ 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 2019. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, August 8th, 2019

When I consider how my life is spent, I hardly ever repent.

Ogden Nash


S North
None ♠ A 6
 Q J 7 2
 A 4 2
♣ J 10 6 2
West East
♠ K Q 9 8 7 5
 10 8 6 5 4
 Q
♣ 7
♠ J 4 3
 A 9 3
 J 8 7 5
♣ 8 4 3
South
♠ 10 2
 K
 K 10 9 6 3
♣ A K Q 9 5
South West North East
1 2 ♠ Dbl. Pass
3 ♣ Pass 3 ♠ Pass
5 ♣ All Pass    

♠K

On today’s hand, an unorthodox (many would use a stronger term, with five cards in the other major) weak jump overcall from West propelled North-South into a dicey five clubs, not that the no-trump game would have fared any better. North started with a negative double, then tried to right-side three no-trump. South showed his extras and fifth club with a jump to game, but North had nothing more to say.

Declarer won the spade lead in dummy and drew trumps in three rounds, ending on the table. A heart followed, East swooping in with the ace to cash the spade jack before returning a passive heart.

South now decided not to play for a red-suit squeeze on East. Given that West apparently had six spades and one club, he therefore had to hold a fourth heart or three diamonds.

Instead, declarer discarded diamonds on the heart queen-jack and, when everyone followed, East was marked with diamond length. West must hold either the queen-jack doubleton or a singleton honor for the game to stand a chance, but which?

Aiming to get a count on the hand, declarer ruffed dummy’s last heart. When East showed out, declarer now needed to find West with a singleton diamond honor. When it appeared on the diamond ace, he tabled his cards, taking the marked diamond finesse.

A neat discovery play — while a singleton honor is more likely than the doubleton queen-jack, why guess when you can be sure of the answer?



There are many misapprehensions about the unusual two-no-trump call. Do not wait for the perfect hand; if you have decent suits, get in there — especially when (as here) the lower suit is stronger. With the minors switched, I could understand overcalling two diamonds to make sure you played the better trump suit facing equal length.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ 10 2
 K
 K 10 9 6 3
♣ A K Q 9 5
South West North East
      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 2019. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Wednesday, August 7th, 2019

Logic is a large drawer, containing some useful instruments, and many more that are superfluous. A wise man will look into it for two purposes, to avail himself of those instruments that are really useful, and to admire the ingenuity with which those that are not so, are assorted and arranged.

Charles Caleb Colton


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

J

Defense may be the hardest part of the game, since partner’s hand is concealed, but sometimes logic will help you out. Declarer wins the opening diamond lead in hand with the king. He next plays a club to dummy’s queen and East’s ace. What should East do now?

At the table, East returned a heart. Declarer won with the ace and ran all his trumps. His last five cards were four spades and a diamond, while dummy kept three spades and ace doubleton in diamonds. East wanted to keep four spades and two diamonds, but had to discard from one suit or the other, and either would be fatal.

Could East have done better? Yes, he had a chance to break up the squeeze by playing a second diamond when in with the club ace. West might have started with a singleton diamond, in which case the contract would have been beaten immediately. Furthermore, even if West had a doubleton diamond, although declarer could win a cheap trick with dummy’s 10, he would not be able to cash the ace without letting West obtain a ruff. His best play would be for spades to break, and when that did not happen, he would be one down.

Note that declarer could have succeeded anyway by starting with a high trump from hand at trick two. East wins (it does not help to duck) and must play a diamond. But now declarer can guess to draw West’s last trump with the club queen and cash dummy’s diamond ace, discarding his spade loser.



Nothing is perfect here. A jump to three diamonds would be pre-emptive, and a simple raise of diamonds would not keep the opponents out (and would not help my partner compete, if appropriate). I’d gamble with the slight overbid of two clubs, a cuebid raise promising limit-raise values. (A jump to three clubs to show a mixed raise – 6-9 high-card points and four trumps – is also a possibility.)

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ 9 8 4
 Q J 9 8
 A 10 9 7
♣ Q 6
South West North East
  1 ♣ 1 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 2019. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, August 6th, 2019

To understand God’s thoughts we must study statistics, for these are the measure of his purpose.

Florence Nightingale


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

*Limit raise or better in hearts

♠K

There are, on occasion, good reasons for not telling the truth with your initial signal. For example, sometimes you should tell partner you like his opening lead, even when you are not wild about it. The best reason for doing so is that there may be no better lead available to him; let us look at where we want to deter partner from making the “obvious” switch.

On the auction shown, put yourself in the East seat, and consider how you want to signal when partner leads the spade king. Your systematic play would be to discourage by playing your lowest spade, here the two, but think before you play. Do you really want partner to attack diamonds, which is his most probable switch if you discourage spades? After all, your partner does not know that the clubs will not prove a fertile source of discards for declarer. If the layout is like the one shown, you will certainly be better off encouraging a spade continuation. (Partner needs to cash that second spade winner while he can, before declarer pitches his spade loser on the clubs.)

When West leads three rounds of spades, declarer pitches one diamond loser, then can discard another diamond on the second of the top clubs. But he is left with three diamonds in each hand and no way to avoid losing two diamond tricks in the fullness of time, no matter what he does.



I’m a great fan of the quick-and-dirty approach to overcalling. That is to say, get in fast on marginal hands, and the danger of being penalized is less severe. So, is this hand worth a double, given your soft defense in hearts? I think it is on the cusp. The point is that while acting is dangerous, bidding later may be even riskier. I’d double, but with the heart king instead of the ace, I might pass.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ Q 9 6
 A J 5
 6 5 3
♣ A K 10 6
South West North East
    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 2019. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, August 5th, 2019

This is a world of compensations, and he who would be no slave must consent to have no slaves. Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves.

Abraham Lincoln


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

♠J

In today’s deal, South added one point to his 19 in high cards (for aces, his good intermediates, and because it was a Wednesday) and opened two no-trump. North could find no way to declare the hand, so he simply raised to game.

After West’s lead of the spade jack, South reasonably covered with dummy’s queen, perhaps more in hope than expectation, and wisely ducked when the king appeared. He took the next spade trick, worried about a possible heart shift if he ducked again, as West followed with the 10 to suggest a heart entry. Then South passed the club two around to East.

Declarer won the heart return, tested the clubs and claimed nine tricks when they split. No one at the table noticed the blunder that had cost the contract — did you?

It was West who let the game make, when a more thoughtful defense can set it. He must put up his club 10 on the first round. If declarer lets the 10 hold, West has the spade suit to cash, and if South covers the 10 with his king, he no longer has any entries to dummy to reach the good clubs.

Note that if declarer cashes the club ace at trick three, East has to unblock an honor to set the hand — otherwise South ducks a club to him in safety. But when East unblocks, West’s club 10 again causes declarer the same problem. He cannot duck the club and leave West on play, and he cannot capture the club 10 in dummy, or he loses the entry to the long suit.



This hand has a clear answer at pairs, and a slightly less obvious one at teams. On blind auctions like this, look for a sequence to lead from or a five-card suit. Alternatively, you try to locate a five-card major in partner’s hand. Here, the heart sequence stands out like the proverbial sore thumb. Even if a heart doesn’t hit length in partner’s hand, it surely won’t cost a trick.

LEAD WITH THE ACES

♠ Q 10 7 5
 J 10 9
 7 4 2
♣ K 5 2
South West North East
      1 NT
Pass 2 ♣ Pass 2
Pass 3 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 2019. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, August 4th, 2019

You recently ran a hand where you passed with a 3=3=2=5 9-count including king-queen-fifth of clubs and king-jack-third of hearts. After one diamond to your left, one spade from partner and a negative double to the right, why not bid two clubs for the lead in case West declares a red suit? You can bid two spades later, and if partner raises clubs, you can revert to spades.

Barbara Ann, Burbank, Calif.

Here since you didn’t have a weak two in clubs available, this sequence would be consistent with just clubs, without spade tolerance. Yes, you can probably survive the action, but I’d be a little unhappy at my low offense and defense against hearts here. Raising spades looks safer and simpler.

When your partner doubles a one-spade opener, do you play the double of a raise to four spades by your right-hand opponent as penalty or take-out? As the original doubler, I was faced with this problem at my second turn with a 1-4-5-3 hand with extra values, and did not know whether to bid or pass.

Spare Tire, West Palm Beach, Fla.

I’d play your partner’s double as optional; you tend to pass the double unless removing to a contract you expect to make. The call of four no-trump in response to the double would suggest a two-suiter, initially the minors, but you can have hearts and a minor, planning to correct a response in your shortage to the next-higher suit.

What are the rules when you are dummy and you believe one of your opponents may have revoked in the middle of the hand? Must you stay silent or tell your partner?

Ruling Passion, Durham, N.C.

As dummy, you must not draw attention to an irregularity in the middle of the hand. But when the hand is over — preferably before all the cards are put away and the evidence vanishes — tell the table what has happened, call the director, and if necessary point out where you thought the revoke had happened. Importantly, when an irregularity is agreed to have occurred, you should call the director as dummy even if no else does.

I d e a l t a n d p a s s e d w i t h ♠ Q-10-3-2, ♣ Q-3-2,  9-7-5-4-2, ♣ A, and my partner opened one club, after which the next hand doubled. What is the best tactical response here to make sure we do not miss our best fit? And what rebid strategy do you have?

Lost Horizon, Brownsboro, Ala.

You may lose a fit if your partner rebids one no-trump (concealing a major suit over your response of one diamond). However, I suspect that after the double, partner will not rebid one no-trump over one diamond unless he has both major suits well-guarded, so this would be my choice. The opponents may introduce a major and make the auction easier for us.

Do you have any comments on the headline news recently about the suspension of a top Monaco player for a drug infraction?

Raging Bull, Nashville, Tenn.

I’m both upset and sad to hear that Geir Helgemo appears to have been punished for what was not a performance-enhancing drug, because the Olympic rules require it. Everyone who knows him would consider him a nice and sporting guy and one whose talent is truly undeniable.


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 2019. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Saturday, August 3rd, 2019

Thou god of our idolatry, the press …
Thou ever-bubbling spring of endless lies,
Like Eden’s dread probationary tree
Knowledge of good and evil is from thee.

William Cowper


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

♣K

Do you always tell the truth at the bridge table? It may not be as much of a virtue as you imagine. Consider the following deal from a world pairs event at Albuquerque, New Mexico, in 1994, in which giving partner the natural signal would have cost you blood.

It seems natural for West to lead a top club against four spades, but how should East signal? Although it may not be obvious, a little reflection will suggest that it can do no harm to discourage the suit, because you know that at best getting a ruff will break even, since you are ruffing with a trump trick.

As you can see, if West goes ahead and gives his partner a ruff, it will allow South to discard his heart loser on this trick. That allows him to escape for just down one — and minus 100 would represent a very fine score, since it beats all the East-West pairs making game or part-score in hearts, whereas minus 300 would not be nearly as good.

Of course, West might cash his second top club at trick two, in case East has a singleton club, though he probably should not do so. But in any event, the position at the end of the second round of the suit should be clear to West. If partner has a doubleton (which you now know to be the case) and has told you unequivocally that he does not want a ruff, he has his reasons — don’t try to overrule him. Just play a heart as directed!



Do you pre-empt here or not? The vulnerability may play a key part in your decision; vulnerable I would not act, but non-vulnerable I would open three clubs in first or third seat, though not in second. The absence of values in the majors is what should persuade you to consider action.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ 6
 9 6 2
 Q 4 3
♣ A K 9 6 3 2
South West North East
       

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 2019. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, August 2nd, 2019

A certain amount of distrust is wholesome, but not so much of others as of ourselves; neither vanity nor conceit can exist in the same atmosphere with it.

Madame Necker


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

♠6

At the Dyspeptics Club, everyone wisely mistrusts everybody else’s declarer play. Even so, when South showed a spade suit, North had some hope of slam. However, when South denied interest, North wisely did not go past game.

As he put down dummy, North remarked caustically that even South would find it difficult to go down here. Not so; West found the intelligent opening lead of a low trump, imagining his club strength would be over declarer’s and that partner would have hearts over the dummy. East liked the idea of playing a trump, but realized that if he won the ace and returned a trump, he would not be able to get in to play a third round of the suit. Accordingly, he ducked the opening lead. Declarer won in hand and crossed to dummy with a top heart to take a club finesse. But West won and fired back a second trump. Now when East won his ace and drew a third round of trumps, the vile club split meant there was nothing declarer could do; nine tricks were the limit.

South complained about his bad luck, but had only himself to blame. He should have won the spade 10, then played three rounds of hearts, ruffing high in hand. He could then play a diamond to the ace and ruff a second heart high. At this point, he would have the first seven tricks in the bag and be able to play the ace, king and a third diamond, ruffing low. He would have the club ace and two more sure trump tricks in dummy for 11 winners.



The concept of fit bids is controversial, but most agree that passed hands won’t introduce a new suit at the three-level or higher once their partner has acted, unless they have some degree of fit. By extension, facing a pre-empt, new suits at a high level (if they aren’t jumps to game) always promise a fit Here, a call of four clubs promises a spade fit. This will help partner compete and will help with the lead.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ K J 10 4
 10 5
 J 2
♣ A Q 10 6 5
South West North East
  1 2 ♠ 3
?      

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 2019. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

←Older