Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, August 15th, 2016

It is better to remain silent than to speak the truth illhumoredly, and spoil an excellent dish by covering it with bad sauce.

St. Francis de Sales


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

K

With his best hand for months at the rubber bridge table, South criticized his partner’s bidding as soon as he saw dummy.

When South produced his second slam try and North jumped to slam, South could not bid on. But North should have bid six clubs over the five diamond cuebid. Had North done so, and then bid six hearts over six diamonds to show the third round control, his side might have reached the respectable grand slam.

After winning West’s diamond king lead in six spades, South played two top trumps to reveal the bad break. Suddenly there were problems in even the small slam, and declarer continued with heart ace and a heart to the queen. He would have been home if the jack had fallen, or had the suit had divided 3-3, or even if East had had to follow to the second heart. However, as the cards lay, East was able to ruff the heart queen and eventually the defenders came to another trick.

Declarer had mistimed the play badly. With two entries to the table, he should have tackled the hearts by first leading towards the queen. When the second round is led from dummy, it would not have helped East to ruff a loser. So he must discard, and now after winning in hand, South re-enters dummy with the club king for another heart play. Again, East cannot profitably ruff, and dummy still has a trump left to take care of the losing heart. East can overruff but declarer has the rest.


With a choice of four-card majors, which is the better honor to lead from? Imagine partner with a four- or five-card holding in one major or the other; wouldn’t you think it was easier to set up spades than hearts? I would. Conversely, if my spade king were the ace, I might lead a heart, relying on getting in with my side-suit ace, to try to cash out the hearts.

LEAD WITH THE ACES

♠ K 10 7 2
 Q 9 7 6
 6
♣ Q 8 3 2
South West North East
Pass 1 Pass 1 NT
Pass 2 NT 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 2016. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, August 14th, 2016

If you hear your partner double a one-level opener in the balancing seat, how much do you need to jump in response? Would you make the call on the same hand that you would have facing a direct double – or does it require more (or even less) than facing the direct double?

Catching Up, Galveston, Texas

Since your partner may have less for a balancing double than one in direct seat, I believe a jump shows only short of an opening bid – say 10-12 with a four- or five-card suit. By contrast the range for the jump response facing a direct double might be less, on a hand with the appropriate shape. Incidentally, jumps by passed hands are often four-card suits, since with a five-carder you might already have bid.

I held ♠ K-3, J-9-5-2, 10, ♣ Q-8-6-5-4-2, and I heard my partner double one diamond and the next hand pass. Is this a case of bidding majors before minors? What would you recommend I do here?

Picking your Moment, Vancouver, Wash.

I would definitely respond two clubs, expecting the auction to be likely to continue to allow me to bid hearts next. This way I get to show a limited hand with significantly longer clubs and hearts, together with some values, and partner gets to decide where to go next.

Can you give us examples of the sort of situation where you would ever consider employing a tactical or psychic bid and the type of hand you would hold for such an action?

Robert the Bruce, Union City, Tenn.

Even though I have psyched perhaps only forty or fifty times in my life, just a few days ago I was playing matchpoints with my wife Judy. She, as dealer, at favorable vulnerability, opened three clubs, followed by a pass from my RHO. I held a 2-3-4-4 nine-count with the ace-king of clubs and tried three no-trump. This went down seven while the opponents could make a heart slam! Bridge sensibly has very strict rules against partnerships colluding to psyche, but the occasional spot of frivolity is hardly unreasonable.

Could you comment on precisely when a double of a no-trump call might be for takeout, not penalty?

Wielding the Axe, Doylestown, Pa.

If in fourth seat you hear your RHO respond one notrump to an opening bid, a double can best be played as takeout of your LHO’s suit. The same philosophy applies when partner has overcalled on this same auction. And as opener if LHO overcalls your opening, and RHO responds one no-trump, double by you should again be takeout of LHO’s suit.

What are the best web sites to follow the news about tournaments wins, and the scandals about cheating?

Little Miss Muffett, Janesville, Wis.

There is no contest here. Bridge Winners broke most of the best stories about the cheating, and has stayed ahead of the curve with fascinating articles by a number of world experts on the subject. It has a lot of other interesting stories and problems, too.


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, August 13th, 2016

To expect the unexpected shows a thoroughly modern intellect.

Oscar Wilde


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

*Weak

**Texas transfer

7

This is a splendid declarer play problem from last summer’s Grand National Teams at the Chicago NABC.

In four spades East wins the diamond lead with the ace, and after some reflection, shifts to the club king. Play on. At the table, South won an early club and played the diamond king. When West ruffed, declarer was out of chances as the cards lay.

The winning line, even seeing all four hands, isn’t that easy to spot. The point is that it is easy to make the hand if diamonds break 5-2; your target is to bring home the game when diamonds are 6-1. After the diamond lead and club shift, you must duck the club king, to cut the defenders’ communications for a trump promotion. Win the next club and play the diamond 10 from hand.

If West pitches, discard dummy’s last club. After losing to the diamond queen, you plan to draw trump and pitch two hearts on the diamond king and the now established jack. If West ruffs in on the diamond 10, overruff, and draw two rounds of trump, ending in hand. The key is that you have forced West to ruff a loser, so now he is out of trump. That lets you cash the diamond king to pitch the club, and you will eventually be able to ruff dummy’s third heart in hand.

The see-saw effect, of determining which suits you want to ruff in hand or dummy, and the challenge of how to neutralize the opponents’ trumps seems especially attractive to me.


It is a subtle point that a call of two spades, which I recommend here, should be constructive, not simply weak – whereas if your partner had rebid two clubs, that inference would not be available. The point is that with a weak hand and no diamond fit you can pass two diamonds here, confident that diamonds will be playable facing shortage; that safety does not exist facing a two-club rebid.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ K Q 8 6 4 2
 A J 3
 4
♣ 9 5 2
South West North East
  Pass 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: Friday, August 12th, 2016

All we know is infinitely less than all that still remains unknown.

William Harvey


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

*Forcing relay

**0/3 keycards

♣4

In the next deal from the Chicago NABC last summer, you would probably want to play six diamonds, but getting to a 4-4 minor-suit slam with a combined 29-count isn’t easy. And while slam certainly wasn’t cold, it offered the opportunity for careful play. A relatively natural sequence like this one, where North shows a balanced 12-14 then 4-5 in the minors, worked well.

In six diamonds, after a low club lead, it seemed logical to play a cross-ruff. South cashed the club ace, ruffed a club, went to the spade ace, and ruffed a second club, then cashed the high hearts. When East produced an ominous queen, that seemed unlikely to be a false-card unless he had the jack as well, so declarer changed tack. A spade ruff and a club ruff with a high trump reduced everyone down to four cards.

If you now decide to trust the opponents’ carding, you have a guaranteed route to 12 tricks. Play the diamond queen, then the spade jack. When West shows out, the diamond 10 and ace are good for two tricks.

But had West produced the spade queen, you would have discarded dummy’s club loser. In that case, if you believe his earlier carding, East will have started life with precisely 3=2=4=4 pattern. He would have to ruff his partner’s winner and lead into dummy’s diamond tenace at the end.

At the table the opportunity for brilliancy ended when West showed out on the spade, but the swing North-South scored for making slam was a perfectly acceptable alternative.


A few (too many in my opinion) people still open one diamond with this pattern in the minors. I could grudging accept that would not be entirely unreasonable with this precise shape and a very good four-card diamond suit plus weak clubs. But generally I prefer to open one club and rebid at no-trump (or raise a major with three trumps).

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ A 6
 10 6
 A 10 4 3
♣ A J 10 8 7
South West North East
      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, August 11th, 2016

Liberty consists in doing what one desires.

John Stuart Mill


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

♠Q

Last summer in the quarterfinal round of the Spingold Knockout Teams, the Lavazza team defeated their opponents handily. There were some bright spots for the losers, though, and Glenn Milgrim made a nice play on this deal.

You reach three no-trump by South after West has doubled the one club opener. A heart lead would doubtless have sunk you, since you would surely have misguessed the suit, but West, Zia Mahmood, led the spade queen.

Milgrim won, and elected to run the diamond eight, which lost to the 10 on his right. East, Giorgio Duboin, helpfully returned a heart, which was ducked to the 10. A club to the 10 and king was followed by a low heart to the queen and king, ducked by South.

Now the defenders reverted to spades. Milgrim covered the nine with the jack and Zia ducked, seeing that if he were to cover, he would eventually fall victim to a simple spade-diamond squeeze after two clubs and a heart were cashed.

In the seven-card ending Milgrim now cashed the ace and queen of clubs, compelling West to pitch the heart jack. Then the heart ace forced West to let go of his low spade. Finally, a diamond towards dummy gave West the option of splitting his honors, or ducking and letting the nine of diamonds score cheaply. When Zia covered the second diamond, Milgrim won in dummy and led a spade. West now had to win and at trick 12 was compelled to lead into the diamond tenace, to concede nine tricks.


When faced with a marginal hand for acting over a preempt, the general rule is to act with shortage in the opponents’ suit, and pass with length. But there are exceptions; this hand seems too light, and with a soft defensive holding in hearts, I’d rather defend. The risk of going for a penalty, or turning a plus into a minus, is just too high. Were partner not a passed hand, the decision would be harder.

BID WITH THE ACES

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

The Aces on Bridge: Wednesday, August 10th, 2016

Life is a preparation for the future; and the best preparation for the future is to live as if there were none.

Albert Einstein


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

♠3

At the Summer NABC in Chicago last August this deal came up in a Spingold Knockout Teams match.

You play in three no-trump with a surplus of high cards but, alas, without nine tricks. After a heart lead, you would have to guess diamonds, of course, since the opponents would have already established the danger suit. You would have no reason not to play for the drop in diamonds – unless you thought East had five-plus hearts, and maybe not even then. However, West actually led his fourth-highest spade, the three. This went to the six, queen, and ace. Does that alter the odds?

I don’t know for sure, but the spade lead suggested West had four spades and no more than four hearts. At trick two, declarer tried the club queen, then a club to the ace. West followed up the line in clubs, using upside-down signals, his second club suggesting an initial holding of a doubleton. Meanwhile East echoed in clubs, looking like a man with five.

All the clues strongly suggested West had diamond length, not shortage. If you know East has even one more card in the sidesuits than West, the finesse in diamonds is even money. Here East appeared to have five cards in each of hearts and clubs, and a doubleton spade, thus a singleton diamond.

On balance it feels right to play the diamond ace and a diamond to the jack; and so it proved. This was worth a game swing when three no-trump went down at the other table.


Your partner’s action shows 18-19 points or the equivalent (since he cannot hold 15-17 or he would open 1NT, and with a balanced minimum he would pass). While you could jump to six no-trump, I think five no-trump to offer a choice of slams might get you to an eight-card minor fit. That might well play better than no-trump, given your exposed heart holding.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ A 10 2
 Q 5
 A 10 8 6 4
♣ K Q 5
South West North East
  Pass 1 ♣ Pass
1 2 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: Tuesday, August 9th, 2016

He ventured neck or nothing – heaven’s success
Found, or earth’s failure.

Robert Browning


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

♠K

This deal from the von Zedtwitz Life Master Pairs in Chicago last summer presented a typical matchpoint choice of games.

Three no-trump needs the opponents’ spades to be 4-4, less than a 50 percent chance. Five clubs needs the clubs to break — call it a 70 percent contract. That leaves the Goldilocks contract of four hearts. Not too low, not too high – just right.

Incidentally, had East not doubled two spades, South would have had a very awkward call. As it was, though, he could pass and let his partner show delayed support. Against four hearts West led the spade king then the spade eight (in case declarer had a doubleton spade jack and his partner overtook the spade queen). South ruffed the third spade, and cashed the heart king, then the ace and queen. What next?

Playing a fourth trump would be undignified if West had a spade left to cash, but playing on clubs would require West to follow to three or more clubs. Which line is better?

Playing the fourth trump looks best to me. It loses only if West has precisely four hearts, four spades and three clubs (if he has precisely 4=4=3=2 shape, nothing works). Another big advantage comes if West is 4=4=4=1 or 3=4=5=1, since playing the fourth heart now saves the undertrick. Also, East’s double of two spades as a passed hand is surely more likely to be based on a five-card suit than only four.

However, at the table, declarer chose to play on clubs and went down a trick.


Despite your limited values, your fifth spade should persuade you to compete to two spades here. It is not the job of the take-out doubler to bid his values twice. He can raise you in competition with extra shape or find some other call with extra values. But even if you are facing three spades and a minimum opening, no harm will come to you in two spades.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ A J 7 4 2
 9 8
 10 8 7
♣ 10 4 2
South West North East
  1 ♣ Dbl. 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 2016. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, August 8th, 2016

A man who is not afraid of the sea will soon be drowned, for he will be going out on a day he shouldn’t.

John Millington Synge


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

K

All the deals this week come from last year’s Summer NABC, held in Chicago. It looks normal to reach four spades with the North-South cards here, but after a top heart lead, how should you plan the play?

The first thing you should do is duck the heart. Maybe West will shift to clubs? When West continues hearts, you win and draw trump while eliminating the hearts.

At this point you could take the club finesse, then lead a diamond to the king. But you can do better. You must first lead the club queen from dummy. If East follows low you can assume that the king is misplaced for you, since would anyone be able to duck smoothly duck from king-doubleton or tripleton? I think not.

Accordingly, you rise with the club ace and return the nine. If your reading of the position is right, West might duck the club king, even if he shouldn’t. But if he started life with the doubleton club king, he will win, and simultaneously be endplayed. He cannot lead a black card, and a heart will give you a ruff and sluff to let you pitch a diamond from hand, so he must exit in diamonds.

Now the auction should persuade you to play low from dummy, playing East for the diamond ace not the queen. If East has competed to two hearts with three small hearts and two highcard points, more power to his elbow!

Mark Dahl, playing with Tom Kniest, played four spades exactly this way to make 10 tricks.


This double calls for the lead of your shorter major. In this case, your holding the heart queen argues for a spade lead rather than a heart. Your partner rates either to have good spades or semi-solid spades and an outside entry. In either case, if you lead spades, you hope the opponents will not be able to run nine tricks before his suit is established. Lead a low spade, to give count, not the nine.

LEAD WITH THE ACES

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

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, August 7th, 2016

This deal came up in a local pairs game. I held: ♠ A-Q-10-6-5-3, 3, A-2 ♣ A-Q-10-5, and opened one spade, raised to two, which we play as constructive. Would you simply jump to four spades, or look for slam? If you do decide to make a move toward slam do you prefer a splinter jump to four hearts or a long-suit try of three clubs?

Dolly the Llama, Fort Walton Beach, Fla.

I actually use a form of trial bids where all singleton game- and slam-tries go through the first step, here a two no-trump bid (also called Reverse Romex). Thus a jump to four hearts would show a 5-5 two-suiter, and a slamtry. Here I think the slam you are most likely to make is six clubs, so you can start with three clubs, hoping partner will accept the try by some call other than four spades.

After my opponents bid: two clubs – two diamonds – four spades I led the club king from: ♠ 7-3, 7-6, K-Q-9-3, ♣ A-K-J-10-2 — consistent with the ace-king or king-queen. My partner discouraged, when dummy came down with a 1=6=3=3 shape, with just the heart queen and diamond jack. Should I have shifted to diamonds? If we don’t cash our two diamond winners they go away, since declarer can run both majors and has a singleton club, while partner has the diamond ace.

Lost Chance, Newark, N.J.

This is an impossible problem. Even if you play that when you lead the club king partner should give you count, you still would not know what to do. Even if East discourages clubs, that doesn’t mean a diamond shift won’t cost a trick. I’m not sure how to solve this dilemma. Not all bridge problems have a sensible or logical solution.

Last month you ran through some questions to ask a new partner; those questions related to some simple sequences in bidding and play. Could you give some more ideas please?

Filling In, Charleston, S.C.

My next set of questions would be: how high do you play negative, support and responsive doubles? What defense to one no-trump do you like? What kind of Blackwood shall we use? And do you play Michaels Cuebids — or any other gadgets I should know about?

I’ve seen the ACBL bulletin refer to using the services of a recorder if you suspect your opponents might have been guilty of a lapse in ethics. Can you describe in more detail the recorder concept?

The Bionic Man, Kingston, Ontario

The recorder is supposed to be the first line of defense against possible serious bridge crimes. I think this may be most obvious when an unlikely opening lead hits partner’s surprise suit. If a pair does it once against you, you would tend to put it down to luck. Twice is a coincidence, three times is enemy action. Each district should have a recorder where you can write down the details of what happened and let them take over.

Holding ♠ J-7, K-J-9-3-2, A-4, ♣ K-10-9-2, I opened one heart and heard my partner respond two diamonds (which we play as game-forcing). Should I rebid my hearts, bid two no-trump, or three clubs?

A New York Second, Manhattan, N.Y.

If you did not play the sequence as game-forcing, rebidding two hearts would be clearcut. This sequence does NOT promise six hearts, unlike the sequence where you rebid your suit after a one-level response. But as it is, I think I still go for the rebid in hearts; my clubs are too weak in the context of having a minimum hand for a three-club call, my spade stop too feeble to be happy with a call of two no-trump. Notrump may well play better from partner’s hand.


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, August 6th, 2016

The giant rat of Sumatra, a story for which the world is not yet prepared.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle


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

*May be short

5

Although aggressive competitive bidding can prevent the opponents from reaching their best contract, it can also sometimes simplify the play.

Today’s deal, from London’s high-standard Lederer Memorial Trophy, is a good example. It was provided to me under the seal of the confessional by the guilty South, who shall remain unnamed.

The defense started with four rounds of hearts, ending with East on lead. Not wishing to commit herself to a minor-suit discard, South threw all of dummy’s spades. When East switched to a spade and South won her ace, what should she have thrown from the dummy?

West’s misguided super-light take-out double should have given declarer all the clues she needed. West has at most 9 HCP, so is heavy favorite to hold a real three-suiter with at most one club. Thus declarer can be sure of four diamond tricks. Correct is to discard a club from dummy and play a diamond to dummy’s jack. When East plays low South can cross back to hand with a club to the ace and play a diamond to the nine. If West started with Q-10-x-x and inserts an honor on the second round, declarer can cross back again with clubs and take a second diamond finesse to make her game.

So the light double allowed declarer to make her game? No. South discarded a diamond from the dummy on the spade ace and now had to go down. Worse still, in the other room, where East/ West were silent, West led a spade. Now declarer had an easy nine tricks.


Despite your limited values, it feels right to raise to three clubs rather than pass out two clubs. Your five trumps and your ace mean that your partner does not require a moose for him to have play for game. Equally, if your partner is light, you may be well advised to keep the opponents out.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ J 5 2
 A Q 8 4
 4
♣ 10 7 6 5 4
South West North East
  Pass 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.

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