Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Wednesday, April 20th, 2016

Diligence is the mother of good fortune.

Cervantes


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

♠J

One of the problems with which a declarer at no-trump is faced is when to win, and when duck, as well as which entry in the opponent’s hand to knock out. Today’s deal embodies this sort of problem.

Here you play three no-trump on the lead of the spade jack. You must duck this, to protect yourself against a possible 6-2 spade split, when West has only one ace, and you misguess which one it is. At trick two comes a spade to the ace. What next?

The play that works against most normal breaks is to cross to hand with the club ace and to lead a low diamond out of your hand. If West takes the ace, declarer has nine tricks in the form of four diamonds. When West ducks the diamond ace, the diamond queen wins in dummy and declarer shifts his attention to hearts, taking three tricks in hearts and clubs, two spades and one diamond, for nine tricks.

If East can win the first diamond and clear the spades, declarer will go down. But when West has overcalled on a relatively weak suit you would normally assume that he needs to have a reasonable hand. This makes him favorite to have both the red aces, since there are essentially no other significant high cards missing.

Had you led a diamond from dummy to the king and ace at trick three, West would have cleared spades, and one way or another West would have regained the lead to cash out his spades.


This hand is a dead minimum for an invitational jump to two spades, but your excellent intermediates and side-four card suit offer a lot of playing strength. The call does not guarantee a fifth card in spades, so while you may technically be sub-minimum in high cards, you are certainly within range because of your spot cards and shape.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ Q J 10 9 3
 8 5
 A 10 8 7
♣ J 4
South West North East
  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 2016. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, April 19th, 2016

You that are going to be married, think things can never be done too fast; but we, that are old, and know what we are about, must elope methodically, madam.

Oliver Goldsmith


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

K

After North stretches a little to volunteer a free bid of one no-trump, South is worth the reverse to two spades. Then when North suggests a minimum hand by giving preference to three diamonds, South can make a shape-showing bid at his third turn. Now North knows that what little he has is in the right place. Therefore, he jumps to five diamonds, against which the defense by leading the heart king and continuing the suit. Declarer has three seemingly inescapable losers — but nobody ever made a contract by conceding one down. Let’s see what happens as the hand is played out.

Declarer ruffs the second heart, and cashes the diamond ace-king, hoping for the even trump break. He leaves the defenders with the master trump, and leads a spade to the ace, then takes a second heart ruff. Now a spade is led to the queen, and declarer takes a third heart ruff.

On this trick East is squeezed in an unusual fashion, since if he pitches a spade, it lets declarer run that suit to take care of dummy’s club loser. So East discards a club on the fourth heart. Declarer now cashes the club ace-king, then takes the spade king. Had spades split, declarer would discard dummy’s club loser. As it is, he ruffs his fourth spade in dummy, conceding the last trick to both the club queen and master diamond.

This sort of play, where East is squeezed in three suits one of which is trump, is often referred to as an elopement.


In this sequence a call of two clubs would be natural (suggesting 4-1-4-4 or 4-0-5-4 pattern and a minimum) while a jump to three clubs would be the same pattern but an extra ace. I can’t see any good reason to drive this hand to game, so I would simply invite with a call of two no-trump. Let partner make the last mistake.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ K 9 4 2
 2
 A K 8 6 3
♣ A K 5
South West North East
1 Pass 1 Pass
1 ♠ Pass 1 NT Pass
?      

For details of Bobby Wolff’s autobiography, The Lone Wolff, contact theLoneWolff@bridgeblogging.com. If you would like to contact Bobby Wolff, please leave a comment at this blog. Reproduced with permission of United Feature Syndicate, Inc., Copyright 2016. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, April 18th, 2016

Knowledge can be communicated, but not wisdom. One can find it, live it, do wonders through it, but one cannot communicate and teach it.

Herman Hesse


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

♠6

South’s opening bid of two clubs followed by a rebid of two no-trump shows 22 to 24 highcard points, with a balanced or semi-balanced distribution. Occasionally you may have to make the call with a flaw such as a singleton honor or two doubletons, but you strive to avoid this if you can. North has enough to raise to game, but no reason to consider playing anywhere but three notrump.

When the defenders lead a fourth-highest spade, South sees that he will win three hearts, two diamonds, and one spade. He therefore needs three club tricks to make sure of his game. The best way to get three club tricks is to finesse twice through East. Hence, South must get to dummy twice to lead clubs. South should see that the heart ace is one entry, so he needs to construct a second entry to dummy.

The spade jack is the only high card South can utilize, and there is only one way to create an entry from it. South plays dummy’s seven at trick one, then must unblock his spade queen under the king, at once. He can then reach dummy twice, and duly take two club finesses.

South should fail in his contract if he neglected to throw away the spade queen at the first trick. West would save his spade king for South’s 10 but would duck if South contributed the spade queen at the second trick. South would therefore be unable to reach dummy with the spade jack, and could then take no more than two club tricks.


Since dummy rates to hold four spades, I would definitely not lead that suit, and a heart seems equally unattractive. So I must lead a minor and I can see equal merit in leading a club (I’d probably pick the eight to clarify my holding as best I could) or a low diamond. My partner’s failure to double a club call tips me towards the low diamond.

LEAD WITH THE ACES

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

For details of Bobby Wolff’s autobiography, The Lone Wolff, contact theLoneWolff@bridgeblogging.com. If you would like to contact Bobby Wolff, please leave a comment at this blog. Reproduced with permission of United Feature Syndicate, Inc., Copyright 2016. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, April 17th, 2016

I understand that one should have a good suit to overcall at the two-level, but is that requirement increased or decreased when in sandwich seat? For example if you hold ♠ A-7-2, A-3-2, A-J-9-7-4, ♣ Q-10, and the bidding starts with one club on your left, one heart on your right, how do you stand on the issue of passing, as opposed to a double or a call of either one no-trump or two diamonds?

Weevil Empire, Saint John’s, Newfoundland

Although I normally do not use ‘too dangerous’ as an excuse, I would not try one no-trump here. With only a single stop only in both the suits bid by my opponents, a slightly off-center double (buoyed by the extra high-cards) is acceptable. Even a call of two diamonds is not out of line; when opponents cannot double you for penalties because of the ubiquity of support doubles, you can occasionally take a few liberties in this seat.

I know bridge is a timed game, more or less, so I wonder after the bidding is over and the opening lead is made, how long is declarer allowed to take (or how long should he take) to study his hand and dummy’s before play should start?

On the Clock, Pleasanton, Calif.

While we should all try not to delay the game unnecessarily, it is hard for me to criticize any reasonable length of time taken at trick one to plan the full hand. Even if as declarer or defender you imagine that your problem will come later in the hand, your opponents should not be misled if you think before playing from dummy or following suit at trick one. Third hand is not only entitled to think about the whole hand before following to trick one, it is good policy for him to do so.

Can I ask whether transfer responses to one no-trump are now considered to be part of the basic system used in Standard American? I note that sometimes transfers are annotated in your auctions, and sometimes not.

Footnote Phil, Nashville, Tenn.

I am aware I am sometimes inconsistent about annotating the bidding to focus on the play. My impression is that currently transfer responses to one or two no-trump are taught as part of the basic system. Even if this is not universal, I’m expecting that this is almost the first convention we would all be taught today – after Stayman but before Blackwood.

Last week my LHO opened two hearts, and my partner bid two spades. My RHO raised to three hearts, and I passed with a flat sixcount and jack-third of spades. The opponents seemed to have the balance of high cards; they might not make three hearts, we were probably not going to make three spades. When my partner doubled, I took this as penalty, because in my opinion overcaller’s doubles are not for takeout at this level. I was wrong, and we conceded 10 tricks for a zero.

Behind the Times, Portland, Ore.

Your assumption was wrong. I’d expect your RHO’s raise to be semi-preemptive and for it to be our hand as often as theirs. I’d still pass, but when partner doubled at his second turn, the rule is that there are no early low-level penalty doubles of agreed suits by opponents. When you overcall and face a passing partner, reopening doubles are take-out. So you should simply bid three spades now.

Since one of the targets of the game is to locate a 4-4 fit, which is why we have the Stayman convention, why are four-card majors not in common usage? Isn’t this often a better fit than a 5-3 fit and doesn’t playing four-card majors facilitate getting to the best strain?

Los Lobos, Natchez, Miss.

If you use four-card majors, you may find your side’s fit fast, but you often lose precision. This is because when you have three trump in response you may raise and find a 4-3 fit, or not raise and lose the fit altogether. Five-card majors provide extra information by comparison to the bid of a major in a four-card major system, but they may be less precise when you open a minor. Basically, you win some, you lose some.


For details of Bobby Wolff’s autobiography, The Lone Wolff, contact theLoneWolff@bridgeblogging.com. If you would like to contact Bobby Wolff, please leave a comment at this blog. Reproduced with permission of United Feature Syndicate, Inc., Copyright 2016. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Saturday, April 16th, 2016

Its mystery (of the British monarchy) is its life. We must not let daylight in upon magic.

Walter Bagehot


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

*Game-forcing relay

9

At the Yeh Bros Cup Teams last year, Team Ish from the USA did not set the tournament alight, but Chris Willenken of the USA and Dennis Bilde of Denmark worked some magic here – and won the bestdefended hand of the year from the International Bridge Press Association.

Against three no-trump, Bilde’s lead of the diamond nine travelled round to the queen and ace. Declarer tested clubs to find the bad news, West pitching two hearts then a diamond. Willenken now shifted to a low spade to declarer’s ace, and a heart was ducked to the jack and king.

Willenken could see the endplay looming on him. To get out of his own way, he exited with the spade 10. Declarer won in dummy, pitching a heart from his hand, and cashed the last two club winners, finishing in hand.

Willenken pitched a diamond on the first, and the spade king on the last one, which had the effect of potentially establishing the spade nine in dummy for the fourth round of the suit. However, in the four-card ending declarer could do nothing but duck a heart to East, and this squeezed dummy in the process.

West had come down to J-8 of spades and the diamond eight. So when declarer pitched a diamond from the dummy, reducing to two spades and one diamond, Willenken could exit in diamonds, to the now bare king, and West could take the last two tricks in spades. Had declarer bared dummy’s spade nine, Willenken would have led a spade to his partner to cash his two winners.


Even if I didn’t play a response of two clubs by a passed hand to a third or fourth-seat major-suit opening bid as Drury, I would respond one no-trump. If your hand is not good enough to open, you should not introduce a weak five-card suit at the two-level in what is essentially a balanced hand.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ A
 Q 9 5 4
 A 10 5
♣ J 9 8 6 4
South West North East
Pass 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 2016. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, April 15th, 2016

’Tis an awkward thing to play with souls,
And matter enough to save one’s own.

Robert Browning


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

♠7

In this deal from the 2015 Yeh Bros Cup teams from England and Japan both reached three notrump, on the defense of a low spade lead round to the 10 and queen.

At one table, Paul Hackett guessed diamonds and ran the suit, West pitching a heart, East a heart then a club. Paul now took dummy’s two top hearts and led a spade from dummy, covering East’s five with the six. West could not underlead in spades, since Paul still had the jack left (and had East put up the eight, South’s six would have been larger than East’s remaining spot, the five). So all West could do was cash out his spades and surrender the last two tricks to declarer in clubs.

In the other room, the first trick went the same way when Paul’s son Justin Hackett was West. Declarer also cashed out the diamonds, guessing the queen correctly, but here Justin discarded a discouraging club 10 as West. Now but when South tried to strip out the hearts and endplay West, Justin had a heart left to reach his partner at trick 12.

There is a legitimate defense, though; let’s go back to trick one. When partner leads the spade seven, you know declarer has two honors in spades. Don’t waste a high spade spot at trick one and do not pitch a spade on the run of the diamonds. Then your 10-8 of spades ensures your partner can pitch a heart on the diamonds. If necessary, your partner can put you in with a spade, should declarer try to endplay him by playing on spades after stripping off the hearts.


It is simple, but may be a little premature to jump to three no-trump; however, what are the alternatives? You could cuebid two spades, but what are you then supposed to do if partner bids a minor? You would surely have to bid three no-trump now – and I’d be worried that this showed four hearts plus a spade stop offering a choice of games. Maybe simplest is best.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ Q J 6
 J 10
 K 10 9 5
♣ A Q 8 5
South West North East
  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 2016. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, April 14th, 2016

You may have the universe if I may have Italy.

Giuseppe Verdi


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

K

The Yeh Bros Cup attracted a world-class field in Shanghai last spring. The sizable cash prizes on offer may not have been irrelevant. Today’s deal is from a match where a top-ranking Italian squad heavily defeated an American squad, with a big swing coming their way here.

West led a top heart against three no-trump. East pitched first a low diamond, then the club 10 when declarer, Antonio Sementa, won the heart ace, and returned the suit. West won the heart and shifted to a club; declarer won, then drove out the remaining heart honour, and claimed nine tricks on the club return.

Did the defenders still have a chance at trick three? Curiously, after the heart lead, it was too late to shift to spades at trick three. East takes the ace and switches to clubs, but declarer can win and run the diamonds, and watch East’s discards.

If East comes down to two clubs, then declarer can lead king and another club, and East is endplayed to lead round to the spade jack at trick 12. If East instead comes down to three clubs and the bare spade queen, declarer next gives up a heart. The defenders can only cash one spade winner, and declarer has the rest.

In the other room Agustin Madala, overcalled one heart. Norberto Bocchi as East bid clubs then doubled three no-trumps, presumably to prevent his partner leading hearts. After a spade lead, Bocchi went up with the ace and shifted to clubs, and declarer could take no more than eight tricks.


This is a very hard hand to evaluate. If you had acethird of hearts and a singleton club I would make a splinterjump to four clubs, but this hand is simply not worth a slam try. The choice is between a very pessimistic limit raise to three spades, or an optimistic game forcing Jacoby two no-trump. I vote for going low today.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ J 8 7 6
 10 9 7
 K Q J 10 4
♣ A
South West North East
    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 2016. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Wednesday, April 13th, 2016

Oh to be in England, now that April’s here.

Robert Browning


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

*14-16

♣K

In today’s deal from the Yeh Bros tournament, we see the eventual winner of the Pairs tournament in action. Michael Byrne of England, playing with Mike Bell, reached four hearts on an unopposed auction after opening the South hand a 14+-17 notrump.

Had the defenders led and continued spades, East overtaking at trick one to play the spade jack, then shifting to a club, when left on lead, East would likely have fallen victim to a squeeze in the minors.

But West led his club king to trick one. Byrne won and drew trump, then led a spade from dummy. East flew up with the ace and returned the suit, West overtaking to play a third spade and declarer was forced to ruff. East, who had discarded a diamond on the third trump, now pitched another diamond. In the six-card ending, he was down to three diamonds and three clubs.

Declarer, who had lost two tricks up until now, played three rounds of diamonds ruffing in dummy, then exited from the board with a low club to force East to win and lead into the club tenace at trick 12.

As a side issue, I was pleased to see Michael Byrne doing so well as a player. He has been in the forefront of coaching and captaining the England Juniors over the last decade. But he has also had considerable success as a player, and won the Brighton Swiss Pairs, England’s largest pair event last summer, to cap off an excellent year for him.


With a combined maximum of eight trump between you and your partner, I don’t see that you are obliged to compete further. You certainly cannot double two spades, so pass in good tempo and hope partner can bid on with extra offence.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ 10 6 4
 K J 7 4
 K 4
♣ Q 9 8 6
South West North East
    1 Pass
1 Pass 2 Pass
Pass Dbl. 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 2016. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, April 12th, 2016

Money speaks sense in a language all nations understand.

Aphra Behn


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

♣8

The final of the Yeh Bros Cup, a tournament with $100,000 for the winning team, was contested between two Chinese teams, China Open and Red Bull. Somewhat curiously, the Red Bull team included a pair of Dutchmen, Simon de Wijs and Bauke Muller, who have been playing professionally in China for several years, as well as representing Netherlands in most of the recent International events. The two teams had met earlier in the double-elimination event, with Red Bull winning the earlier battle, but they lost the match that mattered.

This was an opportunity for China Open, but it finished up being a significant pick-up for Red Bull. The Red Bull declarer had heard West preempt to three spades over a one diamond opener. He bid a somewhat cautious four hearts – there being few more attractive alternatives, admittedly — and played there, guessing diamonds to make 12 tricks. In our featured room North-South had more room to find out about their combined values, and they reached six diamonds.

Linlin Hu received a low club lead to the ace and a spade shift. Declarer immediately went after trump and misguessed, to go one down. Had he taken his slight extra chance to explore the opponents’ shapes by playing the second top spade and ruffing a spade, he would have found West with very long spades and surely at least three clubs. Then I think he would have been heavy favorite to guess trump – don’t you?

That being said, I think de Wijs deserves some credit for the swing, for not pre-empting here.


For a negative double at the two-level your partner rates to have eight plus HCP with four spades, and probably no heart fit unless he has a limit raise. Even though your trump holding is not robust, you should opt to defend, since partner will typically have a doubleton diamond, and your side will surely have more than half the deck. And remember, two diamonds doubled isn’t game.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ A K 4
 K J 10 7 4
 K J 5 2
♣ 5
South West North East
1 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 2016. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, April 11th, 2016

If a woman gets insomnia, you never know where you’re going to find her furniture the next morning. It’s primal. We have so little we can control, but we can perfect the way our room looks.

Nicole Holofcener


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

♠Q

Last year the Yeh Bros Cup was played in Shanghai. This is an invitation teams tournament held every two years, and the generous prize money sees the world’s top teams come to compete. The event is sponsored by Chen Yeh, an international furniture manufacturer, who decided 15 years ago to create an event that would simultaneously allow him to compete against the world’s best in head-to-head combat while also providing a forum for a top-class field to play for what is currently the largest prize-money pool on offer anywhere in the world.

Today’s deal sees Australians going mano a mano. Ishmael Del’Monte was at the helm in three no-trump, after overcalling two notrump over East’s third-in-hand wideranging two spade opener. Arjuna Delivera led the spade queen, ducked all round, then a second spade went to declarer’s king, as Bruce Neill ducked to reduce any pressure on his partner in the ending.

Del’Monte won his spade king, cashed the heart queen, then played the percentages when he led a heart to the nine. Since East was marked with long spades, West rated to hold the heart jack.

When it held, declarer finessed in diamonds by leading to the jack, losing to the queen. West could return a club, but declarer took the ace, unblocked his heart winners, came to the diamond king, and could cash the heart king and finesse in diamonds against West’s 10. He ended up taking four hearts, three diamonds and one trick in each black suit for nine tricks.

Only six declarers out of 24 brought home the no-trump game here.


The four heart call was a transfer, so dummy rates to have six spades. If we are going to have a chance to beat the contract we must hope West has no more than a 10-count. We can attack with a heart lead, go passive with a diamond, or try for a club ruff. When leading into a strong hand, there is a good case for not giving away a trick, especially when we don’t seem to want ruffs. So I vote for the diamond 10.

LEAD WITH THE ACES

♠ Q 10 2
 K J 2
 10 9 6 5 2
♣ 7 6
South West North East
    Pass 1 NT
Pass 4 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 2016. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

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