Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, March 11th, 2019

Then nothing will remain of the iron age And all these people but a thighbone or so, a poem Stuck in the world’s thought, splinters of glass In the rubbish dumps, a concrete dam far off in the mountain.

Robinson Jeffers


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

*Shortness, agreeing clubs

♠8

This week’s themed deals all have something in common in the auction. In each case, either North or South produce a cuebid, an imprecise term that covers a multitude of evils.

Some cue-bids are hard to interpret, but today’s deal features a gadget that has moved into the modern repertoire and meets with almost universal approval — the splinter. A jump in a new suit in a sequence where a call one level lower would be forcing, the splinter can be played as setting partner’s suit as trump. It simultaneously shows slam suitability and shortage in the suit in question. In today’s deal, since two hearts would have been forcing, North can show club fit and a singleton heart by his three-heart call, after which the auction progresses naturally to slam.

West finds the best lead against six clubs, a trump. Declarer can see that if either minor behaves, he can come to 12 tricks in the form of seven trump tricks and five winners from spades and diamonds, or six trump tricks, two spades and four diamonds.

If both minors misbehave, however, he must set up a heart. The right moment to do that is now, so he wins the club ace and leads a heart. When East plays low, declarer puts in the jack, expecting that East might not have been able to duck the ace here. Once the jack forces the ace, declarer has plenty of time to ruff out the diamonds, then finish drawing trumps and emerge with six trump tricks, two spades, one heart and three diamonds.



You clearly don’t want a ruff here, so you should not lead the club nine unless you think the situation demands passive play. I’d prefer to set up spades if I can, before declarer gets either hearts or clubs going for discards. So, I would lead my partnershipagreed small spade, be it fourthhighest or third and low.

LEAD WITH THE ACES

♠ K 6 5 3
 Q 8 4 3
 K Q 8
♣ 9 2
South West North East
      1
Pass 1 Pass 2
All pass      

For details of Bobby Wolff’s autobiography, The Lone Wolff, contact theLoneWolff@bridgeblogging.com. If you would like to contact Bobby Wolff, please leave a comment at this blog.
Reproduced with permission of United Feature Syndicate, Inc., Copyright 2019. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, March 10th, 2019

If you open one club and your partner raises to two clubs in competition, how much shape do you need to re-raise to three clubs? If you have four or five clubs in a relatively balanced hand, what should be the deciding factor?

Mork from Ork, Fort Walton Beach, Fla.

When your partner raises clubs, you hope he will have five but expect him to have additional shape or values if he has only four; you also expect more values than from a pre-emptive raise. Accordingly, possession of four clubs, together with any additional side-suit shape, should suffice. With five trumps, I would always bid on to the three-level.

I was last to speak and had ♠ J-6-3,  10-2,  A-Q-10-9, ♣ K-J-7-2. I heard one spade from my partner, and when I responded one no-trump, planning to rebid two no-trump, he jumped to three diamonds. I assume this is game-forcing, so a raise to four diamonds could not be passed; but what might my other options be?

Catch a Falling Star, Albany, Ga,

A bid of four diamonds isn’t necessarily stronger than a jump to five, but the latter suggests good trumps and nothing else. You could argue that a cue-bid of four clubs will probably lead your partner to use Blackwood and so should be safe, but maybe a call of four no-trump here should be diamond fit and nothing to cue-bid. Don’t try that without discussion!

I help instruct beginning bridge players and hear some unusual questions. One idea proposed last week was dismissed as ludicrous. But on second thought, I’m not sure of the correct answer. Can a player open the bidding at any of the four positions with a double? While sounding crazy, it could add another descriptive bid to one’s arsenal.

Odds Bodkins, Danville, Ill.

The rules do not permit this action, but I like it as a non-bridge variant. An opening double shows a balanced 11-14, so partner can pass with a weak hand. Meanwhile doubling partner’s suit would show scattered values and no long suit. Some day in a special holiday event, perhaps? (The reason you can’t double as the initial action is that, per Law 19, a double must be of a preceding bid by an opponent.)

After our side missed a game, following the opponents’ takeout double of my partner’s one-heart opener, it was recommended to me that a bid called BROMAD might have saved the day. This sounds like an indigestion tablet or remedy against flu. What is it really?

Spoonful of Sugar, Baltimore, Md.

Bergen Raises Over the Double of a Major allow you to differentiate weak and strong raises after the double of a major. Jump raises remain pre-emptive, but with 8-10 and three trumps, you begin by bidding two clubs — an artificial call to show precisely this hand. More and more people play either transfers or something artificial here (and also when an overcall of a major is doubled). See www.larryco.com/bridge-articles/ interference-after-our-1-of-a-major.

My right-hand opponent dealt and opened one heart, and I held ♠ Q-4,  K-6,  K-10-7-6-5, ♣ A-J-8-3. What is correct in theory and in practice? Would your call be affected by the vulnerability?

All Shook Up, Staten Island, N.Y.

You have a feeble suit without intermediates and not enough values to insist on coming in right now. I’d need an extra diamond honor for a two-level overcall. Move the queen from spades into diamonds, and an overcall is acceptable; but under no circumstances should you double or bid two no-trump at your first turn to speak.


For details of Bobby Wolff’s autobiography, The Lone Wolff, contact theLoneWolff@bridgeblogging.com. If you would like to contact Bobby Wolff, please leave a comment at this blog.
Reproduced with permission of United Feature Syndicate, Inc., Copyright 2019. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Saturday, March 9th, 2019

Give the lady what she wants!

Marshall Field


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

*Asking for the trump queen

2

The decline in the number of entries in women’s events has me wondering how the women of today would match up against the American teams from 50 years ago. After all, it was only in the ‘70s that the Venice Cup — the most prestigious of women’s events — came into being.

As a small piece of evidence that the women back then could really play, I adduce into evidence this deal from a Spingold knockout match from that period.

Mary-Jane Farrell was playing with Marylin Johnson, and she declared six hearts on the lead of a low trump. She decided to play the diamond ace and take a diamond ruff, then the spade ace and a spade ruff followed by top trumps. If hearts had broken, she would have had 12 tricks, but she needed some more luck when trumps failed to behave.

She played her remaining top heart and exited with a heart, throwing two spades and a club from table. Nancy Gruver as West now made a nice play when she produced the club king to prevent declarer from taking three easy club tricks. Farrell won the club ace and simultaneously unblocked the club queen from hand to leave a four-card ending where dummy had two spades and two clubs, while she retained a trump, a club and two diamonds.

When she ruffed a spade to hand, she would have been home if the king had fallen, but even as it was, since East had sole control of diamonds and clubs, the spade ruff squeezed her into conceding the 12th trick.



My answer here depends on vulnerability and partnership style. I would almost never open this hand two diamonds, but at favorable vulnerability (or with both sides non-vulnerable and a partnership agreement), I don’t mind a three-diamond call. There are, after all, two opponents and only one partner. I’d be equally aggressive in third seat, but not second.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ 8 5
 J
 Q J 10 9 6 2
♣ 10 9 7 5
South West North East
?      
       

For details of Bobby Wolff’s autobiography, The Lone Wolff, contact theLoneWolff@bridgeblogging.com. If you would like to contact Bobby Wolff, please leave a comment at this blog.
Reproduced with permission of United Feature Syndicate, Inc., Copyright 2019. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, March 8th, 2019

Every public action which is not customary, either is wrong, or if it right, is a dangerous precedent. It follows that nothing should ever be done for the first time.

F.M. Cornford


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

K

In today’s deal, East-West did well not to sacrifice in five diamonds, which should certainly go at least two down, and might fare even worse from the East seat on an unlikely heart lead. East’s double of two spades showed cards but no obvious call, and West decided to take his chances on defense — a wise choice, with four spades a delicate contract.

When West quite naturally tried to cash two rounds of diamonds, South seized his opportunity by ruffing, then making the critical play of finessing hearts and eliminating that suit. Then he exited in trumps, and East was endplayed with his bare ace. He was forced to concede a ruff-sluff — in which declarer would pitch a club from hand and ruff in dummy — or lead a club himself, his actual choice.

That would have been good enough to set the game if the three and 10 of clubs were switched, but as it was, when West won his club king he had, East had no choice but to return a club, and declarer could claim the rest.

If a trump is led or a trump shift comes after the lead of the diamond king gets a count signal from East, the endplay no longer works. Declarer’s best play is to eliminate the red suits, then lead the club jack from dummy. This will work if either defender holds both the club king and queen or if West has a doubleton club king or queen. And of course, we have all seen sleepy defenders fail to cover an honor with an honor when they should …



Another thorny problem! Does a takeout double of two spades focus on the minors (because you’d bid hearts if you had them)? I think so, but I’d expect my partner to bid three clubs if he has both minors, at which point my correction to three diamonds must show hearts and diamonds — since I would have bid three diamonds the round before with just that suit.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ A
 10 9 5 4
 J 9 7 5 2
♣ Q 8 4
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 2019. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, March 7th, 2019

Let us leave our old friend in one of those moments of unmixed happiness which, if we seek them, there are ever some, to cheer our transitory existence here. There are dark shadows on the earth, but its lights are stronger in the contrast.

Charles Dickens


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

♠J

In today’s deal, the contract in each room in a teams game was three no-trump, and at both tables the lead was the spade jack.

At the first table, after winning in hand, declarer led a low heart and ducked West’s eight. East overtook with the nine and continued with a second top heart. South won in hand and turned his attention to clubs, finessing the queen. This lost to the king and back came another heart. Can you see declarer’s winning line now? South failed when he played on clubs: He needed instead to take all his spade and diamond winners, then exit with a heart. East would have been able to cash two more hearts, but would then have to lead a club and let declarer score two more club tricks.

The second declarer won the spade lead and decided that his best chance would come from setting up one more trick in the club suit. At trick two, he crossed to the club ace, then advanced a low club from dummy. East put up the jack, and now the club 10 and queen were equals and could be established for declarer’s ninth trick.

If East had played low, would South have followed low, or would he have inserted the club 10? If the 10 lost to the jack, declarer would have regained the lead and led up toward the queen at his next turn. The only time that it is wrong to put up the 10 is when West started with exactly the doubleton club jack.



When deciding how high to bid, do not just look at your honor cards. Your intermediates are outstanding, and though you don’t expect to find a singleton spade opposite, a minimum three-suited hand opposite would offer decent play for game. So jump to three hearts, which may make the opponents’ task of finding a fit in spades a little harder, and should get you to game if you can make it.

BID WITH THE ACES

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

The Aces on Bridge: Wednesday, March 6th, 2019

Curiouser and curiouser.

Lewis Carroll


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

♠J

My ventures to the local club often yield curious results, but this deal from the Common Game six months ago produced a more unusual conclusion than usual.

Readers are asked to guess which card won trick 13 in four hearts. As you might expect from the introduction, best play was not necessarily involved. And yes, readers may guess which seat I was occupying, if they like.

West led the spade jack against four hearts, and East encouraged with the eight, letting South win the queen and lead a club to the king — correct defense by West to duck the club ace.

Now declarer made her first slight slip by leading the diamond 10 (maybe low to the jack was better, though that is debatable). This was covered by the queen and ace.

At this point, it seems right to play for diamond ruffs, but declarer made a serious error by cashing the heart ace and leading to the jack. When you want to ruff, don’t draw trumps. East won the queen to continue with the spade king, and declarer took the ace, drew the last trump, led a diamond to the jack, and exited in spades.

Now West won and played the 13th spade. South ruffed and led the diamond nine, allowing East to take his king and get out with a club. At trick 12, South ruffed and led her last card, the diamond four, and East triumphantly scored his five, more to his surprise than you might have expected.



With weak trumps and no guarantee your soft cards are working properly, a simple raise to two spades is better than a cue-bid raise. You wouldn’t need a dramatic improvement, however, to upgrade it to a cuebid. Making the heart jack the queen would be enough for me.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ 9 7 3
 K J 7
 10 3
♣ K Q 8 5 4
South West North East
Pass 1 1 ♠ Dbl.
?      

For details of Bobby Wolff’s autobiography, The Lone Wolff, contact theLoneWolff@bridgeblogging.com. If you would like to contact Bobby Wolff, please leave a comment at this blog.
Reproduced with permission of United Feature Syndicate, Inc., Copyright 2019. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, March 5th, 2019

No need that sort of king should ever die.

Robert Browning


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

♣Q

Today’s deal offers an interesting declarer-play problem both for North and South. Let’s look at four hearts on the bidding shown, with South in the hot seat.

Game is easy to reach and appears to be a good contract. It gets worse, though, when West leads the club queen and the defense takes three tricks in that suit. As declarer, you should refrain from contributing the club king on either the first or second round of the suit from dummy since East (unless West is a very calculating customer) has the ace — but it might be singleton or doubleton. When East wins the third club, he will probably play the diamond king, taken by the ace.

One chance is that the spades will split 33, but there is also a squeeze chance. The only trick you are worrying about is the last, so lead out all the trumps. Lo and behold, East cannot keep the diamond queen and his spades!

This is the simplest of squeezes, but now imagine you are declaring four hearts from North on a top diamond lead, perhaps after an optimistic two-no-trump opener and a transfer sequence. Instead of relying on a squeeze here, you simply draw trumps and play four rounds of spades. If the suit breaks, you pitch your diamond from dummy. If it does not, you ruff the fourth spade and exit with the diamond jack to East, who must break clubs for you or give you a ruff-sluff. Either way, you are home safe with 10 tricks.



Your partner has suggested limited values and heart tolerance. Your fifth heart strongly suggests competing to two hearts to make it harder for the opponents to get together. The Law of Total Tricks makes it clear you have an eight-card fit, so you must contract for at least eight tricks rather than sell out.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ Q 7 5
 K Q 10 5 2
 J 4
♣ 8 7 6
South West North East
Pass Pass 1 ♣ 1
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 2019. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, March 4th, 2019

Just because you’re paranoid, doesn’t mean someone isn’t watching you.

Anonymous


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

5

After South opens with two no-trump to show a balanced 22 to 24 points, what should North do? If North’s long suit were a major, he would transfer into it. But one should only do the same with a minor if there is a possibility of slam in the air. Here, North knows that his side probably belongs in three no-trump, so why help the opponents by telling them about his diamonds? North should simply raise to game in no-trump — though give dummy as little as Q-10-fourth of clubs instead of his actual holding, and North might want to consider making a slam try.

When dummy comes down after West’s small heart lead, South sees he has five top tricks in spades, clubs and hearts, with only slim chances for developing another trick from the black suits. He therefore needs only four tricks in diamonds to guarantee his contract.

This in turn suggests that at both teams and rubber bridge, South should take the safety play of cashing the ace, then deliberately ducking the second round of diamonds to protect against a 4-1 break in that suit.

As shown in the diagram, South’s precaution is needed to assure the contract today. If South wins the second diamond in dummy, he can take only three tricks in that suit. His best play would be to turn his attention to clubs, but when that suit also fails to break, he emerges with only eight tricks. Still, at pairs, where every trick counts, when you are in a normal contract, it might make sense to go down in the search for an overtrick.



When you have a weak hand, leading partner’s suit gives you at least a reasonable chance that you might be able to set that suit up. None of your other holdings are appealing, so you might as well play for your partner’s hand. Thus, a spade lead stands out as the safest and most attractive shot.

LEAD WITH THE ACES

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

For details of Bobby Wolff’s autobiography, The Lone Wolff, contact theLoneWolff@bridgeblogging.com. If you would like to contact Bobby Wolff, please leave a comment at this blog.
Reproduced with permission of United Feature Syndicate, Inc., Copyright 2019. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, March 3rd, 2019

I have tried hard to explain to my bridge class how the Monty Hall problem works and how it applies to bridge in the form of the principle of restricted choice. I’m not sure I’ve convinced them yet. Do you have a patented method?

Razor’s Edge, Tupelo, Miss.

Imagine you are missing the queen, jack, five and four of trumps. You lead to the ace, and your left-hand opponent produces one of the honors. Should you finesse next or play for the drop? Well, a singleton honor is almost twice as likely as the queen-jack doubleton, even though any specific singleton is slightly less likely than a specific doubleton. With queen-jack doubleton, the player has a choice of cards to play; with a singleton honor, he has no choice.

In second seat vulnerable, you hold ♠ 2,  K-9-4,  A-K-10-4-3, ♣ K-J-5-4. After a four-spade bid on your right, I assume you would double to show a good hand. Partner now bids four no-trump. What does that call mean, and what should I do next?

Mumbles, Wausau, Wis.

Partner’s call suggests a two-suiter, to which you respond by bidding your better minor at the five-level — unless your hand is so strong that you want to drive to slam. Be aware, though, that your partner might have hearts and clubs, planning to correct five diamonds to five hearts. The wisest bid here is five clubs, to ensure finding a good fit, if not the best.

After opponents have opened one no-trump, does the meaning of their double of a transfer bid depend on the range of the no-trump, and on whether yours is a passed or unpassed hand? Should it promise a good suit, a good hand or both?

Coming Up for Air, Newport News, Va.

Yes, the range of the no-trump and whether yours is a passed hand are both critical here. Double by an unpassed hand after the opponents have opened anything but a strong no-trump shows a good hand but not necessarily a great holding in the suit doubled. Any other double should be lead-directing, showing a good suit but not necessarily guaranteeing a good hand.

Please recommend some books that might help me master the percentages in order to gain a basic knowledge of the essentials in bridge?

Captain Crunch, Albany, N.Y.

Kelsey and Glauert wrote informatively on this subject, but for the truly devoted expert, there are highly complex books by Borel and Roudinesco. The normal player, however, can get by with only a few basic rules. Learn the normal splits missing three, four, five or six cards, and you really don’t need much else. The ACBL’s most recent version of the Encyclopedia of Bridge certainly covers those basics.

Recently, I held ♠ Q-J-4-2,  10-7,  10-9-8-6, ♣ J-8-3, and my opponents bid unopposed one club – one no-trump – two no-trump three no-trump. What would you have led here? (The winning lead was a heart, since partner had five decent hearts and an entry.)

Right Said Fred, Harrisburg, Pa.

Dummy probably has a balanced 18 with some club length, while declarer has no major and is therefore 4-4 or so in the minors. Partner needs to have 10-11 points to give you a chance, but he didn’t bid. I would guess partner’s shape to be 3-4-3-3 (again, give or take a card), and I’d lead a diamond, hoping dummy has a doubleton queen or jack. I’d never expect my partner to refrain from bidding with values and five hearts.


For details of Bobby Wolff’s autobiography, The Lone Wolff, contact theLoneWolff@bridgeblogging.com. If you would like to contact Bobby Wolff, please leave a comment at this blog.
Reproduced with permission of United Feature Syndicate, Inc., Copyright 2019. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Saturday, March 2nd, 2019

The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity.

W.B. Yeats


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

*Weak two in either major

7

At the 1996 World Championship quarterfinals in Rhodes, Greece, most North-Souths maneuvered themselves into three no-trump by South on a heart lead after West had shown a weak two in hearts.

In one match, South took the heart king and played the club king, and East erred by taking her club ace to play a second heart back. There was really no rush, since declarer was unlikely to have nine sure tricks. Declarer covered the heart six with the nine, and West naturally cashed her heart ace, after which declarer was home free.

At the other table in this match, East correctly ducked the club king. Now declarer crossed to the diamond king and played the club queen. All East had to do was win it and return a club, and the defense would have prevailed. But East played a second heart, and again the defensive communications had been cut.

In both the Open and Women’s series, almost every East besides Irina Levitina of the U.S. failed to duck the first club and continue the suit when declarer played it again. The defense was so blinded by the distraction in hearts that they could not see the simple way to defeat the contract.

Was there anything that declarer could have done about a correct defense? Yes, as Alfredo Versace for Italy demonstrated. Once the club king held the trick, declarer could cut the defensive communications by playing back a top heart himself! The defenders could take only four tricks now, no matter what they did next.



You could settle for a penalty here: If your partner has a singleton diamond and the other three aces, you might expect to take about seven tricks on defense. Or you could look for game in either hearts or no-trump. Since a 4-3 heart fit might be awkward to play, I would start by cue-bidding, then convert a three-spade response to three no-trump, hoping partner could bid on with real extras.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ Q 9 4
 K Q 9 5
 Q 10 6 4 2
♣ K
South West North East
  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 2019. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

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