Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, January 22nd, 2016

If you quit on the process, you are quitting on the result.

Idowu Koyenikan


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

4

In today’s deal you are East, defending five clubs. You might well disagree with North’s third call. Looking for a spade fit was somewhat optimistic; he should have closed his eyes and bid three no-trump, hoping to protect his hearts and expecting to be able to run one or both minors without letting West on lead. Be that as it may, you have to defend to five clubs on partner’s incisive heart lead. Dummy plays the jack, and you are in the hot seat.

The size of the spot-card led tells you that your partner has five hearts at most, so declarer’s shape can be precisely deduced as 0-2-5-6. You must therefore cash your two heart winners before the rats get at them. What next?

You may feel like you are well placed to score one or both of your minor-suit kings. But imagine you exit with a diamond. Declarer finesses, ruffs out the diamonds, then finesses in clubs, and it is game over. The same applies on the exit of a low or high spade, while a small club allows declarer to make the same plays in a different order.

It may seem artificial, but there is one perfectly logical defense to set the game, 100 percent of the time, assuming your inferences about declarer’s handpattern are correct. Simply exit with the club king. Declarer must win in hand and can only reach dummy with a trump. Now he must lose a diamond, since you have killed his opportunity to ruff a diamond on the board.


There are various strong calls you might make now. One is to redouble, one to bid one no-trump, suggesting 18-19 or so. But partner passed your opening bid; are you really obliged to punish him when he has a Yarborough? I would pass for the time being, planning maybe to reopen if the opponents stop in two clubs, and otherwise to give up.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ K Q 9 7 2
 A Q 5
 K 9 2
♣ K 5
South West North East
1 ♠ Pass Pass 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 2016. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, January 21th, 2016

It’s not denial. I’m just selective about the reality I accept.

Bill Watterson


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

5

In today’s deal North elects not to use Stayman after hearing the two no-trump opening because of his balanced shape. After a diamond lead against three no-trump South must try to develop tricks in both hearts and clubs. He can reach dummy only once, with the diamond ace. The question is whether to use the entry for a heart or club finesse.

If South uses the diamond entry to dummy for a club finesse, he has an even chance to gain a club trick. If the finesse succeeds, he will win two club tricks instead of only one. But if South, instead, tries a heart finesse, he may gain nothing at all. The point is that a single finesse in hearts may produce nothing for South that he cannot get by leading the suit from his own hand.

For example, if East has a doubly-guarded heart king, the finesse will work, but East will still score his king sooner or later. It is only if East has the doubleton heart king that the finesse gains immediately; and even then South is only up to eight tricks, since his fourth heart will not be high.

South has no way of knowing which finesse will work, so his play is a matter of guesswork. But it is pointless to try for something that won’t be of material assistance. Best is to use dummy’s entry for a club finesse; when it holds, play ace then queen of hearts. Win the diamond return and duck a club, to make the game whenever either hearts or clubs break favorably.


How many tries toward slam should you make? The best way forward, I think, is to cuebid four clubs, planning to give up over a four-heart signoff. Remember your partner knows he has shown 0-7 or so already. With two major honors such as an ace and a king you can assume he would work out to advance beyond game. And note that we haven’t even considered the danger of club ruffs…

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ A 4
 A Q J 6
 K Q J
♣ A Q 3 2
South West North East
      3 ♣
Dbl. 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 2016. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Wednesday, January 20th, 2016

You have to be able to be a good loser. You have to be okay knowing you’re going to fail every day in something without getting mad and upset.

Dan O’Brien


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

J

The USA Trials are frequently held on a double-elimination format. The undefeated team becomes USA1, while the team who emerges from the once-defeated pool plays the losing finalists for the right to be USA2. Today’s recent deal comes from the final battle for the USA2 spot. For the winners, Jeff Meckstroth is generally considered to be one of the top declarer players in the world, but this deal saw him outplayed.

Against four spades West led the diamond jack. Meckstroth won dummy’s ace and immediately played a club to his jack and West’s ace. West continued with the club 10 ducked all round, then switched to a heart, establishing the fourth defensive trick for his side.

In the other room Mike Kamil, as declarer, had been given a little help because West had overcalled two hearts. He won the diamond lead, drew two rounds of trumps, cashed his other top diamond, and played ace and another heart. When East won his queen (and it would not have helped him to unblock), he had to choose between giving a ruff and discard and opening up the clubs.

This line had nothing to lose. If trumps had not broken 2-2, then declarer could still have played a club from the dummy, making the contract when East had either both honors or one honor doubleton.

With trumps 2-2, when declarer exits with a heart, he knows that if the defenders can safely play a third heart, he has still preserved all his options for playing clubs for two losers.


Playing an old-fashioned style where an immediate jump to two spades would have been strong, I have to bid two spades now and live with the fact that this is not an invitational sequence. (Were an initial two-spade jump weak, this sequence would be more constructive.) I’ll rather go low than high here, since if my partner has an unbalanced hand with extras he will probably find another call.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ Q 10 6 5 4 2
 A 3
 K 9
♣ J 8 3
South West North East
    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 2016. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, January 19th, 2016

I learned that we can do anything, but we can’t do everything… at least not at the same time. So think of your priorities not in terms of what activities you do, but when you do them. Timing is everything.

Dan Millman


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

♠2

Today’s deal comes from the winners of the Brighton Senior pairs, which included one of my journalistic contacts, Brian Senior.

As Brian admitted, he had been lucky here. Firstly, the North-South methods meant that Senior could get in a spade overcall to attract the most threatening opening lead, and secondly, declarer’s technique was found wanting. In three no-trump declarer won the spade lead in dummy to play a club to the jack and ace and Geoff Wolfarth as West cleared the spades. When declarer lost the heart finesse Senior had spades to cash for down one; down one represented 75 percent of the matchpoints for East-West.

After the spade overcall, declarer must attack East’s potential late entry first. If East has the club ace as well as the heart king, the contract appears to be doomed unless declarer can manufacture an endplay, but on the actual layout it can be made by knocking out the heart king before the spades have been established. As you plan to play on both hearts and clubs eventually, arrange to take the heart finesse before playing on clubs. That means winning the first spade with the king as before, but then crossing to hand with the diamond ace to run the heart jack.

This approach makes the contract on the actual lie of the cards, while if the heart king and club ace were switched, declarer would score two heart tricks without losing the lead. He could then play on clubs, and succeed whenever that suit divides evenly.


This may seem fairly basic to my readers, but it is worth reiterating: 5-3-3-2 represents a balanced hand pattern, whether the long suit is a major or minor. Unless the honors are remarkably skewed, it works better to open hands in the 15-16 range with a five-card major one no-trump, not with the suit. With 17, upgrade the hand, if you like, to treat it as 18-19. So here open one no-trump, not one heart.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ K 7
 A Q 7 6 4
 K 7 3
♣ K 8 6
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 2016. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, January 18th, 2016

One change always leaves the way open for the establishment of others.

Niccolo Macchiavelli


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

Q

In today’s deal, when North hears his partner open one heart he uses the forcing no-trump then jumps in hearts. This shows invitational values, in a hand unsuitable for an immediate jump to three hearts.

Typically this suggests 10 to 12 points; with less, North would make a simple raise. With more, North would make a two-over-one bid or use the Jacoby two no-trump.

In four hearts on a top diamond lead South can see that he will probably lose one diamond and as many as three spades. All will be well if East has the spade ace, but South should not rely on an even-money chance. If the club king is onside he has significant additional chance against the three-three or four-two break in clubs. (They break this way more than five times in six.)

South must go after clubs before drawing trump, since dummy’s hearts represent critical entries to the board. After finessing in clubs, cashing the club ace and ruffing a club, the heart nine is an entry to dummy to permit South to ruff a second low club, and the heart ace gets him to dummy in time to cash the last club.

South eventually discards a loser on dummy’s last club and then leads a spade towards the king. If East has the spade ace, South will make an overtrick. The ace, as it turns out, is wrong, so South would have failed in his game if he had not managed to develop the clubs efficiently – and if trumps had been drawn prematurely, the clubs would not have been established.


It is hard to look beyond hearts, the suit partner is most likely to hold, for your opening lead. But you want to avoid giving the impression of length or strength in the suit. So lead the heart seven and hope partner can work out to shift as and when appropriate.

LEAD WITH THE ACES

♠ Q 5 3 2
 7 3 2
 10 7 4
♣ A J 7
South West North East
Pass 1 ♠ Dbl. 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 2016. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, January 17th, 2016

At teams with nobody vulnerable I held A-K-J-9-8 of clubs in a balanced 11-count with four small hearts. I passed in first seat and heard my LHO open one diamond and my RHO respond one spade. I doubled to show a maximum pass, and eventually we defended to three no-trumps, which made when my partner led a heart. Afterwards he said that I should have opened one club with such a good suit.

Hot Foot, Grenada, Miss.

Passing initially is fine, even with such nice clubs, since you were going to have an awkward rebid. However, I might open with five clubs and four spades, knowing I could describe my hand at my next turn. I can see both sides of the argument at your second turn. You want to get partner off to the right lead if you can, and overcalling is the right way to do it, but who is to say you do not belong in hearts?

Do you have some simple advice on how to play when a cue-bid gets doubled? Would it matter if the call was a probe for no-trump as opposed to a clear-cut slam-try?

Mister Coffee, Cedar Rapids, Iowa

Yes it does matter. When a cuebid is doubled, use redouble from both sides as firstround control. I suggest the cuebidder’s partner pass with a second-round control, with anything else denying a control. Anything but redouble from the cuebidder denies a first-round control. However, when the cuebid is a probe for no-trump, bid no-trump if you can, redouble with the ace, pass or make a descriptive call with less than a full stop.

At duplicate pairs with ♠ 10-7-4-2, K-10-8-3, 9-4-3, ♣ K-2 LHO opens one diamond, partner overcalls one heart, RHO doubles, and you raise to two hearts. LHO passes and partner bids three clubs. Should you sign off in three hearts or bid game?

Rising Damp, Salt Lake City, Utah

Bid four hearts. Although you have a minimum in high cards, your partner has asked for help in clubs and you have the perfect holding to cover any problems he might have. Your fourth trump is a real bonus too. Indeed some might have done more at the first turn to speak. If you played a jump cue-bid to three diamonds as 6-9 with four trump, this hand would be perfect for that approach.

With both sides vulnerable I had the following interesting collection: ♠ Q-8-6-4, A-Q-10-9-7-6-5, 10, ♣ 2. The bidding started out with my LHO opening three spades, and RHO bid four diamonds. I risked a four heart call and RHO balanced with five clubs, converted to five diamonds by LHO. I chose to lead a trump to cut down the ruffs and this was not a success, but what would you have chosen?

Simple Minded, Rockford, Ill.

Dummy surely won’t fit diamonds or he would have acted at his second turn. I’ll try to cash the heart ace and find out what I should have led when I see dummy. My singleton club argues that a trump lead is likely to be unnecessary.

What do you recommend as the best approach when your partner’s opening bid or overcall of one notrump has been doubled for penalty? What if the double is artificial?

Dud Check, Tucson, Ariz.

Ignore an artificial double altogether and play ‘system on’ but redouble to go head-hunting. This sets up a force through two no-trump. After a penalty double, one simple option is to play redouble as a puppet to two clubs, based on either a club or diamond onesuiter (you will correct two clubs to diamonds with the latter) and keep your regular system in place, so two clubs is still Stayman.


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 2016. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Saturday, January 16th, 2016

No matter what there always seems to be something clouding my existence, nothing is ever clear.

Emilyann Girder


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

♣9

In today’s deal from the NEC Cup at Yokohama there is a choice of games between three no-trump and four spades. Four spades looks better, and is indeed makeable – but there are some subtle wrinkles in the play.

After a club lead, found at most tables, it seems declarer can succeed by leading a trump to the jack. In the match involving the Hackett team, the eventual winners, both tables played four spades on a club lead. Gunnar Hallberg won the club lead in hand, then unblocked clubs to lead a spade to the king. (In general terms this seems a sensible approach, since leading a spade to the jack and ace would not guarantee you were out of the woods, while if the spade king held declarer could almost claim 10 tricks.) Not today though, since after the spade king lost to the ace, a diamond shift would have set the game. However, West passively exited in trumps, and Hallberg had regained control, and made his game.

At the other table his teammate Brian Senior as West led a club to the jack and king, and back came a club to the ace. Now declarer guessed to lead a spade to the jack. When Senior ducked smoothly, declarer elected to lead out two more rounds of clubs, pitching diamonds from dummy. This was not absurd, but it let East ruff in with his bare spade queen. The defenders still had two trump tricks and a diamond to come, for down one.


The normal thing to do here is to transfer to hearts and offer a choice of games. I’m not sure that is wise; do you really want to play a 5-3 heart fit here? I say no. Use Stayman, and unless you find a heart fit, bid three no-trump, since with all your honors in the side suits, three no-trump rates to be your best game. With a small doubleton spade and the heart queen, the equation is completely different.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ Q 5
 J 8 7 3 2
 K 10 7
♣ J 7 6
South West North East
    2 NT 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 2016. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, January 15th, 2016

Life’s full of tricky snakes and ladders.

Steven Patrick Morrissey


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

2

Today’s deal sees a fine combined effort on defense against a three no-trump contract from the NEC tournament from Yokohama, one of the world’s strongest invitation teams events.

Fu Zhong as West started well by deceptively leading a fourth highest diamond from his four small cards. Declarer finessed, quite reasonably, and Jerry Li as East won and returned the textbook club 10 to pin dummy’s nine, covered by the jack and queen. Seeing the danger in the hearts, Fu played back a diamond to disrupt declarer’s communications.

Declarer took this, played the spade king, ducked, then the heart ace, and heart jack, ducked again, and a third heart. Li won his king, West pitching a diamond. At this point the defenders had taken a diamond, heart and club. Now Li played a spade to his partner’s ace for a third diamond play, the killing defense, since whichever hand South won this in, he was toast. Declarer could win in dummy and surrender a spade at the end, or win in hand and be left with a club loser.

The defense was basically forced from trick one onwards. Declarer could have succeeded at double dummy by rejecting the diamond finesse or by rising with the club ace at trick two. And because East had the club eight West could have continued playing on clubs earlier. However, his defense covered all the bases, since it would have prevailed against the actual lie of the cards, whether East had the club eight or not.


Partner has shown 18-19 but he may have only one spade stopper. I’m not sure if three clubs by me would be forcing, and I’d be unhappy about raising to three no-trump directly. It feels better to try three diamonds, bidding the opponents’ suit in which you have values. You can bid three spades over a three heart call from your partner, giving him one more chance to play no-trump.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ —
 Q 9 5 4 3
 J 9 3
♣ A J 7 6 2
South West North East
    1 ♣ 1
1 1 ♠ 2 NT 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 2016. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, January 14th, 2016

If you are out to describe the truth, leave elegance to the tailor.

Albert Einstein


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

*Weak with one major

♠4

In this deal from last year’s NEC tournament in Yokohama Jason Hackett played three notrump as South, after East had opened two diamonds to show a weak hand with one major. One can hardly blame West for failing to lead a heart. While the logic of leading a diamond is obvious, West decided from the lack of a Stayman enquiry to try a major. He led a low spade and Hackett guessed extremely well at trick one to put up the jack (perhaps because the lead might have been from queen-third?).

Now came a low heart from dummy, East inserting the nine. Declarer won the ace, led a club to the king, and a club back to East’s queen. He took the diamond shift and led a third club, catching the defenders in a very unusual position.

If West played low, then he would be known to win the fourth club, since he still had the ace. So declarer would cash the heart king and throw West in with the third diamond. West would be able to cash his minor winners but would then have to lead a spade into the tenace at trick 12.

If West flew up with the club ace, then East would be sure to win the fourth club. Declarer could win the diamond return, cash his spade winner, remove East’s exit in diamonds and run the heart eight, letting East win and cash his master club but lead a heart into the tenace at trick 12. This line would work equally well if the defenders cash the fourth club at once.


Your partner has suggested a hand with more values than a direct jump to three clubs, so you have too much to pass now. Since he clearly does not have a diamond stopper or he would bid no-trump himself, you do not want to suggest no-trump (a three diamond call might show jack-third or an equivalent half stopper). It feels best to raise to four clubs; if partner passes, you probably won’t have missed game.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ J 9 7 3
 K J 7 5
 8 7 4
♣ K 3
South West North East
    1 ♣ 1
Dbl. Pass 2 Pass
2 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 2016. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Wednesday, January 13th, 2016

If you don’t read the newspaper, you’re uninformed. If you read the newspaper, you’re misinformed.

Mark Twain


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

*Three of the five aces counting the trump king as an ace

♣9

In last year’s NEC Cup qualifying tournament more than half the field bid slam here and went down. The editors of the daily bulletin glossed over the play in six spades on a club lead, but Gopal Venkatesh persuaded them to revisit the deal. So how would you play the hand?

After a club lead won in the South hand, it looks natural to play spade ace, spade queen, then two more clubs, pitching the losing heart. Next lead the diamond ace, and a diamond. East does best to discard, then overruff dummy on the next diamond, and force declarer with a heart. You can ruff in the South hand, but now cannot both draw trump and get back to run the good diamonds. In fact, there’s no line of play that works after you cash both of South’s top spades at trick two and three. The idea of picking up West’s trumps when he holds jack-fourth is an illusion — unless diamonds split threetwo.

Can the hand be made if both pointed suits split four-one? Yes; after a non-heart lead, declarer must cash one high spade in the South hand and then lead a low trump to the king. Now come two more rounds of clubs, to pitch the losing heart, followed by ace and a second diamond. East cannot usefully ruff in, so he discards a heart.

So you win the diamond king and ruff a diamond, setting up the suit. If East over-ruffs, win his return and claim the rest. If he pitches, cross to the other high trump in hand and run diamonds. East can score only his trump trick.


How can you catch up after the initial pass, given that a jump in spades doesn’t do your hand justice? You cannot bid no-trump, and if you cuebid you seem poorly placed over anything but a twospade bid from partner. If you settle for the jump to two spades, partner may pass with a minimum opening bid. So you have to choose between two flawed options. Put me down as a pessimist.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ K 10 5 3
 10 5 3 2
 A 3
♣ A J 6
South West North East
      1
Pass Pass Dbl. 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 2016. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

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