Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Monday May 8th, 2017

First ponder, then dare.

Helmuth von Moltke


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

♠9

Some people play that South’s response of two no-trump would be invitational, so that with no major and 13 to 15 points, plus balanced distribution and stoppers in the unbid suits, he must bid three no-trump. Others play that two no-trump would be a minimum game force and a jump to three no-trump would be a strong no-trump.

All roads lead to the no-trump game, though, and after West leads the spade nine, South can see that he needs to set up clubs to make his contract. This game will be easy enough if East has the heart ace. But South must try to develop a club trick without relying on a favorable lie of the cards, if he can.

Specifically, while trying to set up clubs, South must keep East out of the lead. If he does not do so, and lets East in, that player would be delighted to shift to a top heart and run four tricks for the defenders in that suit as the cards lie.

South wins the spade lead in hand and goes after clubs. When West plays low, South puts up the king, comes to hand with a spade, and leads another club. When West follows with the queen, South lets him win the trick. The clubs are now established, and South will be able to unblock the suit, and cross to hand to run the clubs.

If declarer had played clubs from the top, West could unblock his queen at his first opportunity. Now East would come on lead with the club jack, and sink the contract with a heart shift.



I don’t see any good reason not to lead diamonds, but I can see a good reason to break the rules and lead the queen. After all, if declarer has the jack it probably doesn’t matter which card I lead, and similarly if partner has the king-jack, but if partner has the ace-jack and dummy the king, leading a high diamond might work very well to run the suit on defense.

LEAD WITH THE ACES

♠ Q 10 2
 J 6 4
 Q 10 3
♣ 10 9 3 2
South West North East
  1 ♠ Pass 2
Pass 2 NT Pass 3 ♣
Pass 3 Pass 4
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 May 7th, 2017

My partner opened one diamond (guaranteeing four but we open relatively light) and I responded one heart holding ♠ A-7-4-2, 5-4-3-2 A, ♣ A-5-3-2. When my partner raised to two hearts, would you judge this hand worth a drive to game, an invite to three hearts…or something else? Trumps didn’t split and eight tricks were the limit.

Sky Pilot, Cartersville, Ga.

Assuming partner has a normal minimum opener, typically with four trumps, why not make a game try of two spades and see what he does. In theory, two opening bids facing one another make game! Incidentally, I could imagine going one down in three hearts here would score very well — beating all the pairs two down in game.

I recently had an ethical problem when I led a king from king-queen small against a suit contract and dummy hit with jack-third, on which my partner took forever to contribute the two. Can you tell me my rights and obligations in this situation when my king held?

Moriarty, Walnut Creek, Calif.

Don’t try to work out what partner ‘might’ have been thinking about: you would normally make the play you would have done on receiving discouragement. Equally, though, you do not have to stop playing bridge. If logic and your own hand combine to tell you that it is obviously right to continue the suit, you can do so. Here declarer is unlikely to have the critical ace, or he would have won the trick. So partner has the ace and is signaling either count or suit preference depending upon the logical context.

Holding ♠ K-2, 9-8-5-3-2, 10-5-4-2, ♣ A-5, I imagine that if partner opened one spade and the next hand bid two clubs that you would stretch to make a negative double. But what if your RHO bid two diamonds? Would you double, and if so what would you do over a response of three clubs?

Flag Flier, Janesville, Wis.

Though you are light on high-cards, a negative double of two clubs is acceptable because you are playable in all the available suits. But doubling two diamonds would seem too rich for the reason you identify — and also that you could not handle a response of two no-trump. So I’d pass two diamonds, hoping partner would re-open, if short in diamonds.

How much do you need to double a strong no-trump? Is it worthwhile considering playing a defense other than a penalty double against the strong no-trump if your opponents use it tactically at certain positions and vulnerabilities?

Samba Sam, Dallas, Texas

I had always played penalty doubles in all seats, but I could be persuaded that a defense such as Meckwell or Woolsey makes sense. (Details of these are available at andrew-gumperz.blogspot.ca) Whatever you play, you must keep double of third-seat no-trumps as strong, or devious opponents will push you around.

Your column often refers obliquely to support doubles. Can you spell out how and when they apply, and if you recommend them?

Raising in the Sun, Lorain, Ohio

Judging competitive auctions sometimes hinges on each side’s total number of trumps held. If as opener you raise in competition with either three or four, you may make your partner’s task harder at his next turn. So opener can use the double of cheap intervention – below two of partner’s suit – as three-card support. Thus the raise promises four trump. I find the double gives away as much as it gains; then again, the axiom about old dogs and new tricks may be in point.


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 May 6th, 2017

We were revisionists; what we revised was ourselves.

Margaret Atwood


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

2

How should you play four spades when West leads the diamond two? It looks natural to win the diamond lead and draw one round of trumps with the ace, but if you do the game can no longer be made!

If you continue with the trump king, the 4-1 trump break will doom you. If instead you play a heart after cashing one round of trump, East will win and deliver a diamond ruff. The club king switch will then set up a fourth trick for the defenders, to go with West’s trump queen.

Since the contract will be easy if trumps break 3-2, you should assume a 4-1 trump break and lead a low trump to trick two. If West wins with the queen and crosses to partner’s hand with a heart to receive a diamond ruff, you will be able to draw trump when you regain the lead.

If West ducks the first round of trumps, you win the jack and return the favor by ducking the next round of spades. West has to win but can do nothing to harm you. Whether he plays a club, or two rounds of hearts to force dummy to ruff, you will be able to draw trump and run the diamonds.

It is important to remember that when you can afford to lose a trump trick, lose it at a moment when the defenders can do you no damage. Here it would be dangerous to lose a late trump trick, because dummy would then be out of trumps to protect you in hearts.



You have a great hand – but you showed every bit of it at your second turn. Your partner’s raise is mere courtesy; he could have bid game, jumped, or made a cuebid, so you shouldn’t expect more than one cover card. With the spade queen and the heart ace, for example, he would have done more. So pass two spades.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ A K 10 7 6
 9 7 6
 K Q J
♣ A 6
South West North East
    Pass 1 ♣
Dbl. 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 2017. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Friday May 5th, 2017

I don’t think necessity is the mother of invention — invention, in my opinion, arises directly from idleness, possibly also from laziness. To save oneself trouble.

Agatha Christie


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

*transfer to hearts

♠Q

Occasionally your feeling of satisfaction as dummy comes down can give way to a rude awakening when you run into a foul break. You may now need to apply the little grey cells, as Hercule Poirot would say, to try to find a lie of the cards that will let you recover.

In today’s deal West led the spade queen against six hearts, reached after some insouciant bidding from North. Declarer won and confidently led his low heart to the jack.

When East showed out, South looked unhappily at his trump nine, realizing that had this card been in dummy, the play for 12 tricks would have been relatively simple. Then again, if East had held the four trumps, the nine would have been in the right place.

Needing an endplay, South realized that West would have to hold at least three diamonds, so correctly played on that suit first. When West proved to have four cards in that suit, he ruffed his last diamond in dummy.

Now came the critical guess; West was known to have started with eight cards in the red suits, so declarer now had to decide in which black suit he would have three cards. Using the clue of the opening lead, South took the spade king and ruffed a spade.

Next came both top clubs and a third club. West did his best by ruffing in with the eight, but South underruffed in dummy, leaving West to lead from the K-10 of trumps at trick 12, while dummy held the guarded ace and South the queen; contract made!



Your partner’s call shows a maximum pass and heart fit. So how much is your hand worth? I wouldn’t drive to game, but I think I have enough to make a try. While a bid of three hearts is purely competitive, I am just about worth a call of three diamonds, a long-suit help try. That should let my partner decide whether to go to game or stop in three hearts (assuming the opponents let us).

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ 7 6
 A J 6 5 4 2
 Q 7 3
♣ K J
South West North East
    Pass 1 ♣
1 1 ♠ 2 ♣ 2 ♠
?      

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 May 4th, 2017

Young men have a passion for regarding their elders as senile.

Henry Brooks Adams


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

*game-forcing with hearts

**three key cards

J

Today’s deal features two of the people most involved with setting up Senior events as a separate category in international bridge. Goran Mattsson of Germany and the late Doctor Nissan Rand of Israel won the Brighton Summer Congress a few years ago, and this deal certainly helped them.

Rand, who was always an optimist, drove to slam facing three key-cards. Mattsson received the lead of the diamond jack, and inserted dummy’s queen. Now declarer drew two rounds of trump, then continued with a second diamond towards the ace-nine. West put up the 10, and dummy’s ace was played.

South next drew the last trump and cashed the club king and ace, then ran the spade nine to East’s jack. What would you do as East now?

Noting the ace-queen-10 of spades in dummy, East returned a club. Mattsson ruffed in hand and discarded the diamond nine from dummy. Next came the diamond eight, and when West withheld the king – covering would not have helped – declarer let it run. Then South’s last diamond was trumped in dummy, for Mattsson to claim his slam.

Curiously, had East returned a spade instead of a club, one of South’s diamonds would have gone away, but not both, and the slam would have failed. West’s count signals in spades and clubs should have given East the full picture here. But note that even if South started life with three spades and three diamonds, the spade play still sets the hand.



Had East not suggested values, you might have raised to two hearts, but should not do so here. Your hand is all about defense; if your RHO promises decent values with a call at the two-level, then when you raise hearts you should have a decent hand, decent hearts or decent offense. You have none of these, and don’t want to direct a heart lead, so pass. You might reopen over two diamonds, of course.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ K J 8 6
 6 4 3
 5 2
♣ Q J 10 2
South West North East
  1 1 2 ♣
?      

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 May 3rd, 2017

To expect the unexpected shows a thoroughly modern intellect.

Oscar Wilde


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

♣2

East puts South under immediate pressure when he opens three clubs. If the North and West hands were switched, a double from South would put his side into minus 500 or 800 territory. As it is, though, once South stretches to double three clubs, North will be interested in a grand slam, especially when the heart fit comes to light. Today, though, six hearts is quite high enough.

When West leads the club two at the first trick against six hearts, South will assume that clubs strongly rate to be 7-1. His thoughts should turn at once to the chance of an endplay on one defender or the other. Which possibility do you think is the most convincing?

Declarer does not have to commit himself immediately; the play in the black suits can wait. He begins by drawing trump, then cashes his three diamond winners. When East turns up with one trump and three or more diamonds, to go with his seven clubs, he cannot hold more than two spades. Is that bad news for the spade finesse? Yes and no.

Curiously, if the spade finesse is working, there is no need to take it. Play the spade king then ace, and if the queen has not put in an appearance, exit with the spade jack to put West on play. When he wins the trick, he must surrender a ruff and discard on either a spade or a diamond return, and your club loser goes away.

Incidentally, you should probably follow the same line if East turned up with two diamonds and three spades.



Is this hand worth an invitation to slam? I could be persuaded that it was worth a quantitative four no-trump call, but only because of the decent intermediates. The heart 10 would be enough to reassure me completely, but take away the club 10-9 and I would go low and settle for three no-trump. Even as it is, three no-trump might be enough facing any but the strongest of declarers.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ A J 2
 A J 9 3
 J 9 4
♣ 10 9 3
South West North East
  Pass 2 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 2017. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday May 2nd, 2017

Scenery is fine – but human nature is finer.

John Keats


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

J

In three no-trump South finesses diamonds at the first trick, losing to the king. When the diamond seven comes back to dummy’s ace, West follows with the eight, perhaps suggesting he began with four or five diamonds.

South unblocks spades and takes the heart finesse. Dummy’s heart jack holds, and South promptly runs the rest of the spades. Declarer needs West to hold one of the two club honors, and he should assume that West will either pitch a diamond winner, his heart guard, or bare his club honor on the last spade.

When West discards a club on the fifth round of spades, the question is if West has the bare heart king left, or if he has come down to one club, two hearts, and the last two diamonds. Since you are missing six clubs and seven hearts, West is more likely to have started with three hearts and two clubs, not the other way round.

It therefore looks best to lead a low club from dummy toward your jack. You hope West will win the trick with a bare club honor and cash his two diamonds. Then, however, West must lead away from his heart king, allowing declarer to make the last two tricks and bring home his contract.

West could have avoided this end-play by discarding the heart 10 instead of the club eight. But at this point you would probably infer that he had bared the heart king. You would cash the heart ace, dropping his king, with the heart queen now good for the ninth trick.



Double by you would be responsive, and your partner would expect both majors. It is simplest to bid two hearts now. While your partner might have three hearts and five clubs, playing the known fit at the two-level is the most practical action. You should play the percentages and not worry about looking for perfection.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ A J
 J 5 4 2
 Q 7 4
♣ 6 5 3 2
South West North East
Pass 1 Dbl. 2
?      

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 May 1st, 2017

A fool must now and then be right by chance.

William Cowper


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

Q

In today’s deal South’s jump to three spades is invitational, and North has reasonable values for his initial response, so should go on to game. It is not clear whether North should try for game at no-trump, but if he were to bid three no-trump South would pass, of course, with no shortage. Since a club lead by East would give the defenders five tricks off the top, North’s decision to bid the suit game can hardly be criticized.

In four spades South must win the first diamond in his own hand, leaving dummy’s king as a later entry for a heart trick. He next draws one round of trumps, but must then try his luck in hearts.

When dummy’s heart queen wins, South can get back to his hand using dummy’s remaining trump. He then draws the rest of the trump and leads his second heart. West will take the heart ace, and must switch to clubs in desperation. This shift will defeat the contract if East’s clubs are good enough, and West can see declarer has 10 tricks if he does not make this play. The switch may surrender the overtrick, but it is surely worth the risk of investing an overtrick to have a shot to defeat the hand.

Note that West must shift to a low club in case today’s precise layout exists. If West plays the club ace and another club, declarer would survive today. As it is, though, the low club switch lets the defenders cash out the clubs for down one.



It certainly feels wrong to lead diamonds here. The question is if this double calls for a heart lead, or whether you must guess if partner has a solid suit —which would rate to be spades I guess. My best guess is to lead hearts; I’m prepared to look stupid. But the opponents might have run if they were off the spade suit – and partner might have acted at his first turn with good spades.

LEAD WITH THE ACES

♠ J 4
 8 3
 A Q 9 6 4 3
♣ 9 5 4
South West North East
2 2 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, April 30th, 2017

If a partnership tends to open light, with initial actions starting at 10 HCP, does this need to be alerted? I had thought 10 HCP was the lower limit, unless a prealert is made. Then it might become an issue if some clubs won’t allow it in first or second seat.

What About Bob, Panama City, Fla.

I agree that systemically light openers starting at fewer than 11 points should be pre-alerted. Those people playing strong club often do it and don’t alert it; but in my opinion it is, at the very minimum, a courtesy you owe your opponents.

Can you comment on the merits or demerits of a Walsh style of responding to a club opener in a major rather than in diamonds unless you have invitational or better values? This may mean bidding a four-card major in front of a four- or even five-card diamond suit?

Road Warrior, Newark, N.J.

The plusses of the bypass are that opener gets to rebid one no-trump over one diamond when balanced, while bidding a major promises real clubs. It isn’t all one-way traffic of course, but I like the general idea. I believe that having opener rebid no-trump when balanced is a big plus. This doesn’t mean there won’t be counter-examples where diamonds get lost. But these days, minor suits seem to be going out of style.

After a one club opener to your right, with: ♠ J-2, A-J-9-8-6, K-10-6, ♣ A-Q-3 where do you stand on the issue of overcalling in the major or bidding one no-trump? And what are the factors that influence you in a decision of this sort?

Germanicus, Huntington, W. Va.

With a good five-carder and a small doubleton I think the odds are weighted to overcall in the major instead of bidding a strong no-trump. You may occasionally have to re-open with a take-out double if you overcall, when the opponents find spades, since you are at the top end of the range for an overcall. But I do not think we will often miss game if I make the simple overcall. We might miss hearts if I bid one no-trump, however.

If you play in three spades doubled and make two overtricks not vulnerable, I understand you double the trick score to get 180, then add 50 for insult and 300 for game. But is making the extra tricks worth 30 or 60 above the line?

Pack-Rat, Union City, Tenn.

The score for three spades doubled is indeed 180 for tricks, with 50 for insult, and 300 for game. But you score 100 for each doubled overtrick, which comes to 730. The general rule is that doubled overtricks are 100 non-vulnerable, 200 if vulnerable. Meanwhile redoubled overtricks are 200 or 400 each. Incidentally, the back of the cards in the bidding boxes lists all the possible outcomes for each contract, doubled or redoubled.

With: ♠ A-8-7-2, J-8, A-Q-9-6-4, ♣ Q-3, when you hear your partner open one club you respond one diamond and hear partner raise to two diamonds. Would you blast three no-trump now or take a slower route?

Psycho Killer, Hoboken, N.J.

I’m not averse to concealing my hand type under the right conditions. Here, though I am in doubt as to strain and level so I go with two spades. Notrump could easily be much better from my partner’s hand, by the way.


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, April 29th, 2017

A man of action forced into a state of thought is unhappy until he can get out of it.

John Galsworthy


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

Q

As West, you lead the diamond queen against four spades, partner discouraging with the four. Declarer wins the ace, plays the spade ace-king, dropping your queen, and crosses to the spade jack, your partner following with the nine, six and 10.

Now the club queen is run round to your king as your partner plays the five, and declarer the seven. How do you plan the defense?

South has 18 points outside hearts (the club ace, plus the top diamonds and spades). He must therefore hold either the heart king or queen. Your partner’s small club suggests an original three-card holding (he should play the six from a four-card suit). Also, the fact that he did not play the spade 10 on the first round of trump suggests he has the heart queen not the king – given that his signal in trump should be suit preference not count.

So it cannot be right to switch to hearts, playing East to hold the king. If declarer has four clubs, then he surely either has a doubleton heart or doubleton diamond; to have any hope to beat the hand, you must place him with the latter.

So, exit passively with a club or diamond. Declarer will cash his minor-suit winners ending in dummy, and lead a heart from dummy, hoping the ace is right or that he can duck the trick to you. But provided your partner is awake, he will rise with the queen or 10 when a heart is led from dummy. The defenders will then score three heart tricks to defeat the game.


In these positions it is always worth considering whether to re-open with a double when you are relatively short in the opponents’ suit. Here your doubleton club king argues that partner does not have a penalty double of clubs, so he must be weak. Equally, your shortness in spades suggests you don’t want to double and hear anyone bid spades – do you? So I would pass.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ Q 4
 A J 9 3
 Q J 10 3 2
♣ K 8
South West North East
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.

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