Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Wednesday, November 29th, 2017

Satisfaction does not come with achievement, but with effort. Full effort is full victory.

Mahatma Gandhi


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

A

It is always satisfying when, at an early stage of the deal, you can work out the likely shape and honor structure of the unseen hands, and defend accordingly.

When Sweden took on Monaco at the 2014 European Championships, Fredrik Nystrom for Sweden opened the East hand with one club, a call that could have been made on as few as two clubs. The South player for Monaco overcalled one no-trump, and that ended the auction.

Johan Upmark started by cashing the heart ace, which in his partnership methods asked for attitude. On receipt of an encouraging card signal from East, he continued with the heart king, then the jack, declarer discarding a diamond from dummy.

Upmark now knew South had four hearts and surely four spades, since that suit would almost certainly be 4-4-4-1 around the table. Since South would have doubled (instead of bidding one no-trump) with a doubleton club, he must surely have three clubs — and therefore could hold only a doubleton in diamonds.

So Upmark got off lead with a low diamond, and East won with the ace, collecting the king from declarer. Nystrom next cashed his heart queen and returned a diamond, taken by South’s queen, but setting up West’s jack in the process.

Declarer now had five clubs to cash plus the diamond trick he had already scored, but there was no way he could set up a spade or diamond winner before the defenders could cash out for down one.


A simple one here. Jump to three no-trump to offer a choice of games. Even if partner has four hearts, he might pass if his values are outside the heart suit — which is what you want, of course. You can explore with a call of two spades, but this time the direct approach is better.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ K J 7 5
 10 9 6 2
 K Q
♣ K Q J
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 2017. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, November 28th, 2017

There is nothing more likely to start disagreement among people or countries than an agreement.

E.B. White


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

K

Today’s deal features two elements of defense that everyone should try to focus on. One involves the proper use of honors; the other involves understanding the role of small cards.

Here, North-South bid smoothly to game in hearts, and West leads the diamond king. On this trick, East must follow with the queen, promising either a singleton or possession of the jack. With queen-doubleton, you would want partner to cash a second diamond and work out what to do from there; you can, however, drop the queen from queen-doubleton if dummy has the jack.

To beat four hearts, West needs a spade lead from East, setting up the spade king before declarer can force out the heart king, draw trumps and run the clubs for a club discard. At trick two, West knows he can underlead in diamonds to East’s jack. Moreover, West can lead the diamond eight, a high spot-card as suit preference, to get East to shift to a spade.

When East wins the diamond jack and shifts to a spade, declarer has a choice of evils. He can finesse and lose a spade trick at once, or he can go up with the ace and cross to dummy to take the trump finesse. Either way, though, he is doomed to go down a trick.

This concept of suit-preference carding by the defense is one of the hardest parts of the game for intermediate players to grasp. But once you do, it is worth the effort, since the opportunities for using these signals are so common.


Your spade stopper is robust, your hand is not worthless and your partner has shown real extras. So you can invite game with a call of two no-trump. If your diamond five were the queen, you’d drive to three no-trump. Note that the practitioners of Equal Level Conversion would not know if partner had any extras, since this auction might be based on five diamonds, four hearts and a minimum hand.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ Q J 7 6
 10 9 4
 7 5
♣ Q J 5 4
South West North East
  1 ♠ Dbl. Pass
2 ♣ Pass 2 Pass
?      

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

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, November 27th, 2017

Chances in future are just like sunlight, open the windows to see them.

Ali Zayeri


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

♣6

In today’s deal, North bids spades, then raises his partner’s jump rebid of two no-trump to game. The opening lead of the club six goes to the eight, three and declarer’s four.

East’s card to the first trick is likely count, so South deduces he must take nine tricks without giving up the lead, or the defenders will cash out the clubs. A successful finesse in hearts will suffice, but if West has the heart king, it will not move to East’s hand later on in the deal. So South can afford to try every other chance that does not involve giving up the lead first.

To begin with, South cashes the top diamonds. The fall of the queen sets up dummy’s jack; good news, but still not quite enough, since South still has only eight top winners if the heart finesse is offside. South needs one additional trick.

So South cashes the top spades, taking care to end up in hand. If spades fail to break, South will be in position to lead the heart queen from his hand for a finesse.

However, when the spades break, South no longer needs to take the finesse. He leads the heart queen from his hand — just in case — then when West plays low, he takes North’s ace and cashes the good spade for his ninth trick

Incidentally, this line is sound at both teams and rubber bridge. But at pairs, the simple heart finesse is probably better, to avoid setting up unnecessary additional winners for the defenders if the cards do not cooperate.


This feels like a lead-directing double to me. Your partner isn’t doubling on high cards alone; he almost certainly has a spade stack. Since you have no reason to doubt his judgment, lead the spade queen and try and set up his tricks for him.

LEAD WITH THE ACES

♠ Q 2
 J 8 7 4 3
 J 8
♣ 10 6 5 2
South West North East
Pass 1 ♠ Pass 1 NT
Pass 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, November 26th, 2017

Over partner’s opening bid of one diamond, if responder bids two clubs and opener now bids two of a major, does that reverse show extra values?

Second City, Rockford, Ill.

It is a personal choice, but I recommend that rebidding diamonds shows an unbalanced hand with five or more diamonds. A major suit shows reversing shape and some extras, while two no-trump and three clubs are natural, the latter guaranteeing four trump, or three in a semi-balanced hand. You may have to fib if your hand is unsuitable for a rebid of two no-trump.

A recent Sunday column had one person ask after describing their hand, which included a singleton: “Would you open a strong no-trump since the ACBL has approved such actions”? What does this mean, and what did they approve?

Hall of Fame, Dallas, Texas

A partnership agreement to open one no-trump with a singleton high honor was previously not legal — and also not very sensible, in my mind. Now the first half of that statement is no longer the case. Opening one no-trump with 15-17 and a high singleton honor is no longer frowned on — except by me.

Do you and your wife play much together? If so, how do you preserve the rules of diplomacy and politeness?

Love and Marriage, Saint John, New Brunswick

Judy and I do play together in Las Vegas, but we try to save all discussions for the privacy of our home. This approach will keep you out of the divorce courts and lead to better results! Discussions in the heat of the moment lead to words that cannot easily be retracted.

If, after I open and my partner responds at the one-level, I then jump to two no-trump (showing 18-19 points and a balanced hand), can my partner then use Stayman or Jacoby transfers?

Asking Shark, Riverside, Calif.

Many people by agreement DO play transfers here after opener shows real extras with a rebid of two no-trump, when responder has bid a suit at the one-level or has bid one no-trump. Even though one major may already have been mentioned, you get to stop at the three-level, show support with or without extras and offer a choice of game efficiently. It is always good for responder to be able to do so facing a balanced hand. Playing a version of Wolff sign-off plus three diamonds as a checkback accomplishes almost everything; but see bit.ly/AoBOpenerRebids for more discussions.

How would you bid this hand: ♠ Q-J-9-6,  A-J-9-4-3-2,  K-4, ♣ 2, opposite a strong no-trump, assuming that Stayman, Jacoby, Texas Transfers and Smolen are all in your toolbox?

Handy Dandy, Miami, Fla.

This is a hand with slam interest where we need to consult partner. I would use Stayman, and if I found a fit, I would make a splinter raise to four clubs. If I did not find a major, I would bid three spades (Smolen) to show five-plus hearts and four spades, planning to show my sixth heart over three no-trump. After that start, partner will have to make the running for slam.


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, November 25th, 2017

Contrast is important in life. We understand what light is because we can compare it with what we know is dark. Sweet is made sweeter after we eat something bitter.

Tarryn Fisher


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

*Majors

5

On this next deal from last year’s Blue Ribbon qualifier, the defenders were handed a chance by an opponent, and they took it. Perhaps West should have led his singleton diamond as his most passive option, making declarer’s task far harder, though not impossible. West was not that clever. Instead, he led the heart five, and declarer erred by playing low from dummy. East applied the rule of 11 to cover with the six, and now declarer was in trouble.

The winning line is to cross to dummy in diamonds to go after spades, but declarer took an early club finesse, and now East-West could set up a club for their fifth winner before declarer had nine tricks.

At another table, Allen Kahn, playing with Jeff Rothstein, did far better as declarer. A world champion West led the heart five against three no-trump, also after having shown the majors in the auction. Kahn inserted dummy’s heart seven and took South’s queen with the king.

Kahn played back a heart at trick two, and West took his ace. A club went to dummy’s jack. Kahn next played the diamond 10, a diamond to the king, and then ducked a spade, West winning the jack to clear clubs.

Kahn cashed his diamonds, ending in dummy and squeezing West, who needed to pitch either a heart or a club to concede just one trick in the ending. When he pitched a spade, Kahn took the heart jack to pitch his club queen and ran the spades for 11 tricks.


Assuming you play a forcing no-trump, so that a simple raise to two spades is constructive, this seems to be the value of your hand here. Treating the hand as a limit raise seems over the top to me, since your weak trumps are a danger signal. Move the club ace-jack into the spades, and your hand would have much more potential; you might treat it as a limit raise then.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ 9 5 4
 J 9 7 2
 A 10 9 6
♣ A J
South West North East
  Pass 1 ♠ Pass
?      

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

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, November 24th, 2017

The only real mistake is the one from which we learn nothing.

John Powell


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

K

As a reporter from the first day of this Kaplan Blue Ribbon Pairs said, when you qualify almost in last place for the next day, every little bit helps.

Glenn Milgrim came through in the clutch for his partnership. He was playing against Zia Mahmood and Dennis Bilde, one of the strongest pairs in the event.

Mahmood found the best defense against four spades by leading three top hearts, on which Bilde pitched his diamond 10 as declarer ruffed in dummy.

Declarer led the spade queen, which held (though East would have done better to cover). Milgrim read the position perfectly and changed tack at this point. He finessed in clubs, ruffed a club, then played three more rounds of spades to throw Bilde in for the forced club play. The diamonds in dummy took care of the rest. That was plus 620 and 59 out of 64 match points.

Ever the perfectionist, Milgrim was subsequently kicking himself for giving East the chance to defeat the game. The line that gives the defenders no chance is to take the club finesse at trick four, followed by ruffing a club, then playing the spade queen from dummy. Now the defense has no counter. East covers, and declarer plays four rounds of trumps to pitch low diamonds from dummy, throwing East in on the last one.

East can only lead a club now, to let declarer win the ace, on which he pitches dummy’s last losing diamond. The three top diamonds take the last three tricks.


Do not get carried away here. Yes you have shape and four trumps — a nice combination, but shape only goes so far. While you would happily compete to three spades, you should not jump to three spades here. Settle for a simple raise to two; you would need maybe the heart king in addition to do more. Incidentally, with the heart ace instead of the four, a jump to four diamonds describes the hand nicely.

BID WITH THE ACES

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

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

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, November 23rd, 2017

There are two kinds of people in the world, my friend: Those with a rope around the neck, and the people who have the job of doing the cutting.

Tuco, “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly”


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

*Spades and a minor

♠K

The Nail Life Master Open Pairs at last fall’s nationals saw two very different approaches with the South cards. One earned a near bottom, the other a near top. Here is the good, with the bad (or perhaps ugly) to follow.

Jason Feldman, South, playing with Tom Carmichael, was one of the few to achieve par on this deal when he saved in seven hearts. He was sure West had a heart loser from his final double, or he would have passed the final decision to his partner. West therefore had to hold the club ace.

The defenders played three rounds of spades. Feldman ruffed, ducked a club (felling the ace), ruffed the diamond return, drew one round of trumps, then crossruffed the rest for three down — a good save, even against his opponents’ plus 680! Bridge is an easy game, isn’t it?

If that was good, the following result from the same board was comic or tragic, depending on which way you look at it. The names of the guilty or unlucky parties are withheld.

The difference between the auction at our second table and the one shown was that North had doubled a heart bid rather than raising the suit. In this room, South passed out six spades, also having worked out that dummy would have a singleton heart. But East’s double of a heart call convinced West to come up with the master play of underleading his heart ace-king to his partner’s putative queen. That was minus 1,460; as Maxwell Smart would have said, “Missed it by that much!”


All things considered, this is a pretty good hand. A simple call of three clubs doesn’t really do it justice — you might make the same bid with a Yarborough, after all. So I would jump to four clubs and hope partner can bid on to game with any sort of extra values or shape.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ 10 6 2
 Q 6
 Q J 9
♣ Q J 10 4 2
South West North East
  Pass 1 1 ♠
Pass 2 ♠ 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 2017. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Wednesday, November 22nd, 2017

The only thing more intimidating than a huge international film star is your mother-in-law.

Benjamin Walker


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

*Takeout

♣5

Today’s deal comes from the U.S. Nationals last fall and demonstrates that players from all over the world make these events the toughest of contests. Here, for example, we see Peter Gill of Australia trying to bring home a delicate contract of three no-trump, in a team game.

Yes, North’s bidding looks a trifle forward, but we’ve all been in worse games. West leads the club five to the jack and ace, and when East returns the seven, he covers with the 10, allowing declarer to win the queen in dummy.

Clubs are clearly 5-3, so if the defenders obtain the lead in a side suit, they can cash their clubs and defeat you. After winning the second club, you must try to run the diamonds; the good news is that the suit breaks 2-2.

On the run of the diamonds, West pitches one heart and two spades, and East three spades. What should you do next?

At the table, Gill worked out that West had reduced down to three hearts and three clubs. If West had pitched a club, declarer would have set up a spade winner for his side. So declarer now exited with a low club. West could cash his clubs, but then had to lead a heart. The auction would have favored playing for split honors in the heart suit if West had shifted to the heart queen or heart jack. However, when West led a low heart, declarer was home without a guess. He ended with three hearts, five diamonds and one club trick.


Your partner’s four-club call was a splinter, showing short clubs and a raise to at least four spades. Over your four-heart cuebid, he indicated he had nothing more to show, but even in the context of having made one effort, three key honors make the hand too good to pass. A general try of five spades feels right now, though you are expressing great trust in the soundness of your partner’s bidding.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ K Q 6 5
 A 9 6
 9 7 4 3
♣ 9 2
South West North East
  Pass 1 Pass
1 ♠ Pass 4 ♣ Pass
4 Pass 4 ♠ 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, November 21st, 2017

The curious task of economics is to demonstrate to men how little they really know about what they imagine they can design.

Friedrich von Hayek


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

*Hearts

4

At the fall nationals last November in Orlando, Florida, this deal presented itself in the Compact Knockout Teams. Compact Knockouts involve 12-board matches to reduce 16 teams to one in a single day.

In six clubs, you receive the lead of a low diamond. Plan the play to hold your club losers to one.

Did you come up with counting the 4-1 club breaks, West holding the singleton, and decide running the club 10 was best? That is true, although it would not be so if the club four and club six were interchanged. But it looks better to win the diamond ace, cash the club ace, then cross to the heart ace and plan to run the club 10. At the table, the club ace draws the seven from West and the five from East. When you cross to the heart ace and play the club 10, East covers and West shows out.

Don’t panic, but cross to the heart king and ruff a heart, and the suit breaks 3-3. Now you cash the spade ace and spade king (the fall of the queen makes life easy, but you did not need this to happen). Next you lead a winning heart in the five-card ending.

It won’t help East to ruff high or low. If he discards, you pitch your spade, whether it is a winner or loser, ruff a spade to hand, and can return to dummy with a diamond to the king. At that point, you can lead either a heart or a spade. Whether East ruffs high or low, you can score one more trick and bring home the slam.


How much do your bits and pieces add up to? Your trump cards are surely useful, so even though at least one of your side-suit honors will likely be facing shortness, I would bite the bullet and bid game here, and it feels right to raise spades. If you had the heart jack instead of the four, you might take a shot at three no-trump.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ Q 9
 Q 5 4
 J 9 7 2
♣ Q J 6 5
South West North East
  Pass 1 ♠ Pass
1 NT 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: Monday, November 20th, 2017

Eschew the ordinary, disdain the commonplace. If you have a single-minded need for something, let it be the unusual, the esoteric, the bizarre, the unexpected.

Chuck Jones


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

K

Today’s deal came from last fall’s Nail Life Master Open Pairs. At many tables, West opened one diamond, and his side got to two spades. If North had passed on his second turn, he would have conceded minus 110 and scored very poorly. When, as here, he doubled, he got his partner into the picture. His side now had the chance to play three clubs or defend against three spades, perhaps doubled. Either way, he should score well, since a spade contract takes no more than eight tricks.

But let’s look at how the play in three clubs should go on the lead of the diamond king. If declarer wins dummy’s ace and plays the club king, followed by a second club, East splits his honors. Declarer must win (or the defense takes the diamond ruff) and cash three hearts ending in hand.

When North leads out the 13th heart, East discards a spade and declarer pitches a diamond. Now dummy must lead a diamond to the jack and king. The defense shifts to a low spade, letting East win his ace and cash the club queen, catching declarer in a very unusual bind. If declarer retains the club nine, then another trump locks him in hand. But if he unblocks the club nine, two more rounds of spades promotes the club six to the setting trick. Isn’t that pretty?

Declarer can avoid the whole nasty mess by ducking at trick one. Once diamonds are established, declarer cannot be kept from cashing dummy’s diamonds after he pitches his own third diamond on the 13th heart.


Auctions of this sort tend to produce tricks for declarer on a cross-ruff. So I would lead a trump, expecting one time in 20 that I would have needed to cash out to beat the game, but that the rest of the time leading a trump would increase the penalty we are likely to collect.

LEAD WITH THE ACES

♠ J 8 3
 Q 9 2
 A Q 7 6
♣ 8 4 2
South West North East
  Pass 1 ♠ Pass
2 ♠ Dbl. 4 ♠ 5 ♣
Pass Pass 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.

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