Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, June 21st, 2015

My partner held the following hand: ♠ A-9-8-3, Q-10-9-2, K-10-9-3, ♣ 5 when he heard me open one heart. Was he worth a limit raise, or a jump to game? His choice of inviting game with a simple raise saw me pass with a flat 12-count, but I made five.

Spirit-level, Willoughby, Ohio

The hand is definitely worth a raise to game — you might not always make it, but you’d want to be there facing any normal opening bid. The question is whether instead to make a splinter-raise to four clubs; I might not do that, but a lot depends on how much you play a splinter-bid promises here. Having a way to show a limited splinter-bid, or a constructive raise from one to four is very useful (though by no means essential).

When my opponents lead from the wrong hand at the first trick what are my options?

Straight Arrow, Harrisburg, Pa.

The first thing to do is to call the director if playing at a club. Having said that, the options are to allow the lead to be made and continue play to trick one, with dummy going down and playing fourth to the trick. Or you can either prevent the suit from being played until the true leader has lost the lead, insist on the suit being led, or even ask that the exposed card be played at its first legal opportunity, while allowing the real leader do what he or she likes.

I’m somewhat hazy on the true meaning of the term “Responsive double”. Could you clarify for me whether such doubles are primarily for take-out or penalties or true optional doubles?

Pirate Jack, Bellingham, Wash.

The simplest version of a responsive double comes when your LHO opens the bidding. If your partner doubles, and RHO raises the suit, a double by you would be takeout. Note that should RHO bid a new suit, then double by you would be penalty not take-out. The responsive take-out double of a raised minor normally suggests both majors, while the double of hearts normally denies spades, since you would bid them if you could. In my view a responsive double of spades neither promises nor denies hearts.

I’m not clear about how to act after intervention to my partner’s two club opening. My hand was: ♠ J-10-3-2, Q-6, J-10-8-6-4, ♣ K-9 and I heard my partner open two clubs and the next player bid three clubs. Is it right to bid three diamonds, and if not, what action would you recommend?

Unsuitable, Dodge City, Kan.

I’d recommend a simple style here where double is any weak hand, with a pass showing something like 5-8 points. In your example I’d pass here; but give me the diamond king instead of the club king and I’d bid three diamonds, because I’d feel this might be my last chance to introduce the suit economically.

In a recent column you discussed the suit lengths required for preemptive bidding. Couldn’t you also mention what HIGH CARDS are essential in that suit? Bidding at the two-level at adverse vulnerability surely cannot be considered without suit quality. Even at favorable vulnerability I’d like to hold two top honors — but where do you stand?

Cockney Sparrow, Coppell, Texas

When vulnerable, two of the top three honors is the normal minimum. And yet I would never pass a decent hand with a holding such as six cards to the acejack-ten. Non-vulnerable I like to have two top honors in second seat but in first and third seat I go with what my gut tells me. Bottom line: I don’t like to open suits without two top honors unless they have decent intermediates or some other compensating value.


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 2015. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Saturday, June 20th, 2015

Honest unaffected distrust of human abilities under all circumstances is the surest sign of strength of mind.

Georg Christoph Lichtenberg


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

♣4

At the bridge table, you soon find out that some people are inherently untrustworthy… but sometimes with the best will in the world you have to believe Zia Mahmood… don’t you?

In a recent Lederer Teams tournament John Mohan protected in the West seat after the opponents’ bidding had died in two spades. Zia’s bid of three clubs might not have been the majority choice, but it created a bit of excitement. Victor Silverstone didn’t double three clubs with his minimum hand, so Zia never got to demonstrate that his three clubs had been merely lead-directional.

Mohan obediently led a club against three spades. Left to his own devices Silverstone would almost certainly have made the contract, playing East for the spade queen and West for the diamond ace and the heart king-jack. Indeed, there is little else he can do, and both Vlad Isporski for the Spring Foursomes Winners and David Horton for Australia made nine tricks in spades in this way. However Zia won the club lead with the king and switched to the heart two!

From Silverstone’s point of view this was clearly a singleton, so he rejected the spade finesse and cashed the trump ace and king, getting the bad news. He exited with a club to the ace and Zia played the heart three, by now, a real singleton.

Silverstone won in dummy and led a spade. Zia went up with the queen, played a diamond to his partner’s ace and Mohan had no difficulty giving Zia his heart ruff for down one.


Unless you have a specific agreement to the contrary, the call of two no-trump is invitational but not forcing, suggesting 10-11 high cards and just four spades. You have a minimum in high cards but a hand that you would guess would play much better in spades than in no-trump, so retreat to three spades.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ A K J 8
 8 6 5
 J 7
♣ Q J 6 5
South West North East
1 ♣ Pass 1 ♠ Pass
2 ♠ Pass 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 2015. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, June 19th, 2015

Good instincts usually tell you what you do long before your head has figured it out.

Michael Burke


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

*Majors

♠7

Today’s deal saw West give declarer something of a roadmap home in his three no-trump contract. The defenders did have an outside chance to defeat the game, but it was one that was easier to spot in the post mortem than at the table.

Against the no-trump game West was playing attitude leads, whereby the smaller the card led the more he liked his side’s chances in that suit. So he led the spade seven, and East encouraged as dummy’s ace won. Declarer now played the ace and king of clubs, West discarding a heart, and next tried a low diamond from dummy, which went to the five, seven and nine. West now returned the spade six to East’s king, and South won the third spade and cashed his master club.

West was squeezed out of a spade on this trick, since he could not throw a diamond or a heart, so declarer played two more rounds of diamonds. West had a spade to cash, but declarer had the rest, since the diamonds were now established.

To defeat the contract East had to work out from the auction and the size of the spade led to trick one that his partner had jack-fifth of spades. Had he ducked the second spade, declarer’s best bet would have been to win and exit in spades. But the defense should still prevail – so long as they do not cash out the spades, or West once again gets squeezed in the red suits in the ending.


Your partner’s call is non-forcing, and though you have decent club support and the odd value or two, your majorsuit honors are of questionable worth, and three small diamonds is surely a further negative. Pass two clubs, and hope the opponents do not balance. You might raise to three clubs if you had the heart ace instead of the king – and slightly better diamond spots.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ Q 10 8
 K 9 8
 9 7 4
♣ K 6 5 2
South West North East
  Pass 1 Pass
1 NT 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 2015. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, June 18th, 2015

Dream what you want to dream go where you want to go, be what you want to be because you only have one life and one chance to do all the things you want to do.

Nishan Panwar


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

*Splinter-bid: short hearts, agreeing clubs

K

At the Dyspeptics Club South has been experimenting with some of the modern conventions, despite North’s cynical comment that he would do better to master the art of crawling before trying to learn how to run sprints.

Today’s deal was an example of South putting into practice a modern gadget, whereby he showed a good club raise with short hearts by jumping in a suit where a simple bid of that suit would have been forcing. The partnership reverted to spades, and South – who had no diamond control – eventually settled for game. His four club call was in the hopes that North could co-operate, perhaps with the diamond ace instead of the heart ace, when six clubs would have been a highly desirable spot.

Having settled in four spades, South received a top diamond lead. When East discouraged, West shifted optimistically to a heart. Now declarer could draw trump, and discard his second diamond loser on the hearts.

When North asked a not-soinnocent question “Did we miss anything?” it was East who commented grimly that somebody had missed something – and it wasn’t North-South. Do you see what he meant?

South’s revealing auction had suggested at least four clubs. The only way that West could have set four spades was to find his partner with a club void. After a club shift at trick two West has the diamond entry to deal his partner a second ruff and defeat the game. This defense might cost an overtrick, but it was surely the only shot to beat the game.


It is rare that you can be confident with a hand this good that the correct percentage action is to pass as soon as decorum permits. You are far short of the values for overcalling in no-trump. And if you double for take-out you may well find your partner suffering in a 4-3 fit with no high cards and a bad split against him, doubled, to boot. Your partner can still balance if he has the right hand.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ K 8 6
 A K J
 10 9 3
♣ K 10 4 3
South West North East
    Pass 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 2015. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Wednesday, June 17th, 2015

I never make stupid mistakes. Only very, very clever ones.

John Peel


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

♣3

On this deal from a teams-offour match, one declarer had an easy run and made a comfortable overtrick in his game contract. The play had seemed straightforward enough and he was not expecting to gain on the board. But West, his team-mate at the second table, found a way of inducing declarer into error.

Clearly the diamonds had to be developed in three no-trump, so after winning the lead of the club three lead in dummy, both declarers led the diamond two to their king. At the first table West took his ace and led another low club, but now, after winning in dummy, it was easy for South to come to hand with a spade in order to lead a second diamond. When West followed with the three, declarer inserted dummy’s nine. East won, but had no more clubs to play, and so South had 10 tricks.

The second West found a much more imaginative defense. When the first diamond was led to the king, he allowed South’s king to hold. Declarer continued the suit, and this time West followed with his jack.

From South’s viewpoint, this was entirely consistent with West having started with J-10-3 of diamonds and East with the doubleton A-8. If that were the case, it would be fatal to play dummy’s queen on the second round, so West’s jack was allowed to hold. West now cleared the clubs, and coming back on play with the third round of diamonds, cashed his established clubs for one down.


You are too good for a simple raise to two hearts, and the hand doesn’t feel quite right for a call of one no-trump, since you may be offering partner club ruffs in dummy, which he could hardly predict. All that is left is a cuebid of two clubs, the so-called unassuming cue bid, showing a limit raise in high cards. By contrast, a jump to three hearts is nowadays played more about shape than high cards.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ Q 8 3
 10 7 3
 Q 9 6 4 2
♣ A K
South West North East
  1 ♣ 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 2015. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, June 16th, 2015

The plan, a memory of the future, tries on reality to see if it fits.

Laurence Gonzales


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

♠K

When you first learn to play bridge the power of the trump suit is sometimes difficult to grasp. One takes ruffs whenever one can – and that is not always a good idea. It is by no means obvious that as declarer you generate extra tricks more easily by taking ruffs in the short trump hand than with your long trumps. Worse still, just when you think you have the situation under control, along comes a hand like today’s, where the key is to ruff in the long hand. The deal cropped up in the annual Parliamentary match, won that year by the House of Lords, and sponsored by the London Export Company.

With the tip we have just been discussing in mind, plan the play in four hearts on the lead of the spade king. On the surface of it, the deal looks extremely straightforward. You will succeed if trumps break 3-2 but appear to have little extra chance if they are 4-1. However, you never know; once you see the point of the deal, you will win the spade ace and ruff a spade. Now try your three top trumps.

When East shows out on the second round, you should allow yourself an inward smile, because your thoughtful play at trick two has paid off. Next play the diamond ace, a diamond to dummy’s king and ruff another spade. Now a club to dummy’s ace allows you to ruff your last spade. In total you have made four outside tricks and six trump tricks – 10 in all.


Since you have enough points to know your side has the majority of high cards, lead a trump to prevent the opponents scoring their trumps separately. It is a good thought to have at the back of your mind that when the opponents are not overly blessed with high cards, and do not appear to have a side-suit to set up and run, leading trumps is generally indicated.

LEAD WITH THE ACES

♠ J 9 7 3 2
 J 9 2
 J 8
♣ A J 3
South West North East
    1 ♣ Pass
1 ♠ Dbl. 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 2015. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, June 15th, 2015

If you want to cut your own throat, don’t come to me for a bandage.

Margaret Thatcher


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

A

Every year in the United Kingdom there is a series of home Internationals, the Camrose Trophy, the Lady Milne Trophy, and the Teltscher Trophy for Seniors.

Today’s deal comes from the trials for the Lady Milne, the women’s event, and I should start by letting you plan the play for yourself: you are in five clubs, and West leads the diamond ace followed by another diamond. How would you proceed?

At the table one should maybe not criticize declarer unduly for following an uninspired line. She ruffed the diamond lead and played the heart ace and king. To declarer’s dismay East ruffed and played a trump. Declarer could win, ruff one heart in dummy and discard one on the spade ace, but had to lose a heart at the end.

Do you see how she could have avoided this undignified fate?

South should have ruffed the second diamond and played the heart ace followed by a low heart. West can win the trick and play a trump. However, declarer is now able to win and play a spade to her king, ruff a heart with the club jack, then cash the spade ace discarding a heart. She can ruff her way back to hand, draw trumps and claim her contract.

The key here was to count your tricks. To bring the total to 11 you need only one heart ruff, so long as you score both your ace and king. The line declarer adopted was the best line for 12 tricks, but not for 11.


This deal shows the divide between pairs and teams. At teams, where you are trying to set the contract, and overtricks are less unimportant, you should focus on the suit most likely to set the game. I’d lead a low heart at teams, while at pairs I’d try the club eight — that being the suit least likely to surrender an unnecessary trick. I tend to favor passive defense when in doubt on blind auctions like this.

LEAD WITH THE ACES

♠ K 6 5 2
 Q 9 8
 K 9 8
♣ 8 6 4
South West North East
    Pass 1
Pass 1 ♠ 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 2015. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, June 14th, 2015

I recently missed a game when I responded one no-trump to a one diamond opening on an unpromising eight-count with 3-3-3-4 pattern and no 10s. My partner raised to two no-trumps, and I expected him to be a shapely hand in the strong no-trump range so I passed. It turned out he had 18 points. I thought one would jump to game with that hand?

Wrong Brother, Atlanta, Ga.

I’ll stay on the fence for this. To me your partner has a fair case; since the range for one no-trump is 6-10 you don’t have to bid game with a square 18-count, Though equally you might bid two no-trump with a semi-balanced 16-17. Thus in response I’d treat an eight-count as an acceptance. However, if I didn’t trust partner I’d certainly pass.

If you open one club holding: ♠ 3, A-J-6, K-Q-4-2, ♣ A-K-9-3-2 and partner responds one spade, should you jump to two notrumps, or bid two diamonds as a reverse?

A Suitable Case, Holland, Mich.

With an unbalanced hand like this one, bid your suits not no-trump. Switch the minors and I’d have more sympathy with the jump in no-trump, as I would not yet have shown my extras, but I think I’d still settle for bidding out my hand pattern with a two-club call, not a game-forcing bid of three clubs. I hope there will be time for no-trump on the next round.

When you hear an opening four hearts to your right, and you hold a 14-count with 3-1-4-5 pattern, do you pass or double? And what if the auction comes round to you in balancing seat?

Streaky Bacon, New Smyrna Beach, Fla.

You would have a 100% unanimous panel vote if this were a problem. A double of four hearts suggests a good hand, more for take-out than optional, so most would feel obliged to act. Yes, holding only three spades isn’t great, but doubling is the flexible and consultative call. It won’t always work, but it is clearly the best way to have a dialogue not a monologue.

I’m reading in your columns a use of the term New Minor. This seems to work like Stayman, but when does it apply, and would you encourage a relative newcomer to consider learning it?

Conventional Chuck, Palm Springs, Calif.

I am opposed to teaching anyone new conventions. But I admit that after opener’s rebid of one or two no-trump this gadget (which uses an unbid minor suit by responder at his second turn as forcing) is a sensible way to ask opener to reveal three-card support for responder, or to announce four cards in an unbid major.

I was stuck for a call holding: ♠ Q-7-3, Q-8-6-2, J-4-3, ♣ 1-0-8-7 when my partner doubled an opening bid of one heart. How would you compare passing, bidding one no-trump, or inventing a suit?

Two in the Glue, Wichita Falls, Texas

Passing is unacceptable here (one needs real trump length and trump tricks to do that) so your choice appears to be to invent a suit or to risk one notrump, which suggests a rather better hand than this. I guess I’d try one no-trump and cross my fingers; bidding one spade always seems to backfire here, since partners seem to raise excessively on finding a fit. Thus two clubs would be my second choice.


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 2015. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Saturday, June 13th, 2015

The universe is simple; it’s the explanation that’s complex.

Woody Allen


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

*11-16 points; five plus clubs in an unbalanced hand

♣J

In bridge one should never say never, and while an even trumpbreak is normally top of declarer’s wish list, there are always exceptions. Sometimes one has to project the complete distribution, and work out that bad splits can be more productive than a favorable break. That is especially true of hands like today’s.

After a fairly sporting auction by North, Augustin Santamaria of Argentina reached a delicate four spade game, a contract that was made even more challenging by the fact that the auction had indicated the danger of bad splits. On the lead of the club jack, Santamaria took dummy’s ace and played a low diamond. East won his diamond ace, cashed the club queen, and exited with a diamond.

At this point Santamaria was in a very awkward position; he could see that if trumps were two-two, then unless West specifically had the doubleton jack-10 of trumps, the defense could promote a trump winner for themselves by leading a third round of clubs after taking the ace of trumps. Therefore when declarer led the spade seven from hand and West followed with a small trump, declarer went for his only legitimate chance to make the hand by ducking in dummy! When East produced the spade ace there was no longer any possibility of the defense producing a second trump trick. Thus the contract made, for a 12 IMP pickup for Argentina, on the way to an upset in their knock-out match from the 1986 Rosenblum Cup.


Depending on the vulnerability and form of scoring you might be prepared to risk pre-balancing with a double here. Yes, you might catch LHO with a strong hand, but at pairs, or non-vulnerable you should risk a double to show a three-suited hand with opening values and short spades.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ A
 9 8 6 3
 A 9 6
♣ K Q 9 8 3
South West North East
    Pass 1 ♣
Pass 1 ♠ Pass 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 2015. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, June 12th, 2015

There are some people who live in a dream world, and there are some who face reality; and then there are those who turn one into the other.

Douglas H. Everett


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

♣9

All too often, your holding in a side-suit drives your strategy in trumps. After a simple auction to four hearts West goes passive with the lead of the club nine. East wins his ace, and cannot sensibly switch to any suit, so continues with a second club.

South takes the second trick, and cannot draw trumps at once; if he plays a trump to the ace and a second trump, the defense might win and play a third round. Even if trumps split, this could leave him with a problem, as there would be only one trump in dummy to cope with two or more possible spade losers.

An alternative approach might be to draw no trumps at all, and play on a crossruff. The danger with following that route (or even drawing exactly one round of trumps with the ace) is that the defense may make their three high trumps separately.

The winning line is to give up a trump at trick three. You can win the return, then play the heart ace, and only after that will you tackle the spades. Play the spade king, a spade to the ace, and ruff a spade, and you can later ruff another spade to establish your fifth spade. The defense win the first trick, the heart you give up, and one more trump at the end, but that is all.

Be aware that today the small trump spots simplified declarer’s task here. Had declarer possessed the trump jack or queen there might have been alternative strategies to confuse the issue.


This hand is tailor made for a take-out double. When the opponents bid and raise a suit, sandwiched around your partner’s overcall, your double suggests both unbid suits, or one unbid suit and some support for partner. Here, you will be happy to hear partner pick a red suit or repeat his spades. The same logic applies when RHO bids a new suit at his first turn. Doubling shows the fourth suit and values.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ K 5
 A 6 3 2
 Q 10 8 6 2
♣ J 4
South West North East
Pass 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 2015. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

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