Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, June 13th, 2016

This ideal conception — that one should have an aim in life — had, indeed, only too often occurred to me as an unsolved problem; but I was still far from deciding what form my endeavors should ultimately take.

Anthony Powell


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

*Non-serious try for slam

♣7

When South shows the majors, North, who has set up a game-forcing auction at his first turn, can afford to raise to three spades to set up a slam try.

South may not be encouraged by his partner’s earlier diamond bid, but his controls and shape suggest making one mild slam try. Here, facing North’s three spade call, South might sign off at once, but he chooses a modern gadget to make one small effort toward slam. His three no-trump call indicates no extras but that he is otherwise not unsuitable for slam.

(When a major suit has been agreed this is the so-called nonserious three no-trump bid. This was invented and popularized by Eric Rodwell).

Over three no-trump, North signs off in four spades, and when West leads a club to the king and ace, East returns a trump. South has only two plain-suit winners and therefore needs eight trump tricks to make the game contract. He can get these tricks if he ruffs three times in the dummy. South wins the spade in hand, ruffs a club in the dummy, then takes a discard on the diamond ace. Here he must discard a heart rather than a club. South needs all of his clubs in order to ruff three times in dummy.

The rest of the play is a crossruff. South ruffs diamonds in his own hand and clubs in the dummy. 10 tricks made, and West is left to rue not leading a trump to the first trick — not an easy play to find, I admit.


It feels right to lead trump, to cut out spade ruffs in dummy. That being said, a low heart is surely best, since you can hardly afford to waste one of your spots, and the odds are heavily in your favor that partner has one of the top four missing hearts.

LEAD WITH THE ACES

♠ 8 3
 J 10 8 2
 K J 6 5 2
♣ K 3
South West North East
  1 ♣ Pass 1 ♠
Pass 1 NT 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 2016. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, June 12th, 2016

I wonder whether you have any comments on whether a jump overcall of three clubs over one club can be more usefully assigned to a meaning other than natural and weak. I don’t believe that a jump cuebid as an attempt to find partner with a club stopper for no-trump comes up as often as a specific two-suiter (say diamonds and spades). That lets the simple cuebid be a specific major-minor two-suiter. What is your view?

Ghestem Well, North Bay, Ontario

Over a one club opener I think using the jump cuebid as a two-suiter makes reasonable sense. Over any other opener, I’m not so sure: I can see both sides of this issue. A lifetime of playing Michaels as an unspecified two-suiter suggests that accidents when not knowing the second suit are rare – though they are admittedly extremely expensive!

After my RHO opened a weak two spades I tried three diamonds, and heard three spades to my left. When this came back to me I wasn’t sure if I should bid or pass holding ♠ 7-3, A-2, K-Q-7-4-3, ♣ A-K-10-3. As it turned out both three spades and four clubs are cold but I didn’t think I could act facing a passing partner.

Standing Stone, Phoenix, Ariz.

You have a decent hand but only limited extras. Double would be takeout, and I think you are too balanced to drive your partner to the four-level in a four-card suit, if you bid four clubs, wouldn’t your partner raise to game? So passing and hoping to beat three spades is reasonable, as is the call of four clubs.

In a recent column of yours, a two club opener is followed immediately by a four- club preempt by opener’s LHO. When partner then bid four spades and opener raised to five spades, the column said this last bid asked for a club control. Isn’t five spades a small slam force?

Buck Passer, San Francisco, Calif.

I follow Alan Hiron’s rule on bids of five of a major. In order of priority, this ask for control of the danger suit, or says that your trumps are so weak that Blackwood won’t help you find out if we belong in slam. Rarely it says that all you have is good trumps, but no control in any suit that has not been cuebid. Here the logical meaning is to focus on clubs; you’d cuebid five clubs to set spades if you could. Hence you have no club control.

Can you predict whether the USA will continue to fight it out for world domination in bridge? If not, who will take over at the top?

Nostradamus, Oklahoma City, Okla.

A few years ago (in this column in 2007) I predicted that the Polish training schemes for juniors would give them a real chance to dominate at the junior level, and that in 10 years many of those players would be at the very top of the tree. They have won the last two world titles – so kudos to me! My next forecast; watch the Swedish juniors in the next decade compete at the very top level, while the US Juniors are not far behind.

If I get paired with a new partner whom I never met before, what are the critical agreements I should need to establish? Would it make a difference in the context of having played for a long time – if not necessarily being an expert?

Questing Beast, Sunbury, Pa.

How about asking these questions. “Do you play 2/1 game-forcing, and Forcing no-trump? Do you play two-suit or four-suit transfers? What is a two no-trump response to a major, and to a minor? What kind of carding do you use, and what kind of jump shifts and no-trump defense do you play? And do you play New Minor Forcing or any kind of checkback after opener’s no-trump rebids?”


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, June 11th, 2016

Those who talk about the future are scoundrels. It is the present that matters. To evoke one’s posterity is to make a speech to maggots.

Louis Ferdinand Celine


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

♠9

Today’s deal was played in four hearts at both tables of a team game. In one room West led his top club, and the defenders set up a winner there to go with their two diamond tricks. Declarer won the opening lead and could see the possibility of four losers: two diamonds and one trick in each of the black suits. He decided that his best chance was to find East with the doubleton diamond ace, so he crossed to dummy and led a diamond to his king.

Although West could get in with the diamond ace to cash a club and lead a spade through dummy’s tenace, the 7-1 spade break meant he could never put his partner in to cash a spade, and so the contract came home.

In the other room the defenders led spades, which seemed little better. Declarer followed the same approach of crossing to dummy in hearts to lead a diamond to the king. West could see no future for the defense if he won the trick, so he ducked smoothly.

Declarer was not up to working this out. He assumed that East had the diamond ace, so he ducked the next diamond to East, who cashed his spade winner and shifted to clubs, setting up the fourth winner for the defense.

Of course if declarer had led to the diamond queen at trick four he would have come home with overtricks, but I think West deserved to defeat the contract – don’t you?


You were planning to respond two hearts and support spades later — but East has spoiled your fun by preempting. Give up on showing hearts and simply support spades. Your choices are a four-diamond cue bid, suggesting game going values with a fit, and a jump to four spades, which tends to be more about fit than high cards. Your hand falls between these two actions; I’ll go for the cuebid.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ A 6 2
 Q 10 9 5 2
 K 7 5
♣ A 3
South West North East
    1 ♠ 3
?      

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, June 10th, 2016

By persuading others we convince ourselves.

Junius


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

Q

There were a few interesting points on this deal from a national Swiss Teams event. Although South is a bit light for a vulnerable three spade opening vulnerability, the eighth spade made the action a reasonable shot. When the South who reported the deal to me received the lead of the diamond queen, she won in dummy and, in order to create an entry back to hand, played a heart at once.

West won this and played a second diamond. Declarer won the king and now played the spade king. There was nothing West could do any more.

At the other table in this match, though, West led a club. Declarer had to guess whether this was a doubleton or a singleton. A singleton lead is perhaps somewhat unlikely, as that would give East a great club suit, along with a top heart honor (or West would have led one at trick one), and he might well have opened at favorable vulnerability at either the one or three level.

Be that as it may, declarer erred by winning the club ace at trick one. He then played the spade king to West’s ace, and West played a second club to East’s queen. East now cashed the heart ace. What would you play as West, to make sure that East played another club, to promote your spade jack?

At the table, West found the expert discard of the heart king, making it clear no more hearts would cash, and giving East no alternative but to play a club. Thoughtfully done!


Although your hand might look very strong, facing a limited partner you have only three hearts, and the spade king is something of a broken reed. You might make three no-trump here, but I don’t see how you could ever sensibly bid it, so my best guess would be to pass two hearts and hope to go plus here.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ K
 Q J 3
 A K 10 6 4
♣ A J 9 8
South West North East
    Pass 1 ♠
Dbl. 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 2016. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, June 9th, 2016

A Daniel come to judgment, yea, a Daniel!

William Shakespeare


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

♣K

Today’s deal saw me as East, and wondering if I would have been weighed in the balance and found wanting had declarer put me to the test.

At the table my partner led the club king against four hearts. I followed with the two, feeling that my count might be more important than attitude here. After due deliberation, West switched to the diamond five. You might care to plan the play now, in declarer’s shoes.

At the table declarer was frightened of a ruff, and so rose with the diamond ace, then cashed the top trumps, and continued the attack on diamonds. I won the king and shifted to the spade four, a count card. Declarer knocked out the trump queen, and West cashed his spade winner, so declarer lost a trick in each suit for down one.

Notice that if I win the diamond king and give West his diamond ruff, South is a tempo ahead in the race to 10 tricks. That also applies if I continue with clubs on winning the diamond king. So it is surely best to finesse at trick two, hoping East does not find the spade switch.

My instincts are that the spade shift at trick three is sufficiently logical that I would have made the play. It might cost overtricks, but it is very unlikely to let through the contract, and surely West should have cashed a second club if one were standing up. Given that South appears to have three diamonds, he would not finesse unless the layout of the cards looks very much as it does here.


Your hand probably belongs in three no-trump, and it seems sensible to make that call. Is it possible you are off the whole heart suit? Yes, but it is very unlikely since your partner either has a really good hand or both red suits. And if your partner has clubs, you will hear about it on the next round of the auction.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ Q 10 6 4 2
 10
 K 2
♣ A 9 5 3 2
South West North East
  1 ♠ Dbl. Pass
3 ♣ Pass 3 Pass
?      

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

The Aces on Bridge: Wednesday, June 8th, 2016

Put all your eggs in one basket and WATCH THAT BASKET.

Mark Twain


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

*Clubs

♠K

Some contracts may appear to be so straightforward that declarer takes his eye off the ball. Today’s hand was one such, and quite a few folk who should have known better ended with egg on their faces.

When South opened a strong no-trump at matchpoint pairs North might simply have shot out three no-trump. Instead he bid two spades, as a transfer to clubs. If South had simply bid two no-trump rejecting the invitation, North would have settled in three clubs. But when South bid three clubs, suggesting he would accept an invitation, North was happy to convert to three no-trump. For the record, a new suit by North would have shown a singleton now.

When West led the spade king, declarer was so delighted with his side’s combined assets that he took his eye off the ball. He called for the spade ace, then led a low club. When East pitched a diamond, the club suit was suddenly blocked, and nine top tricks had morphed into seven; and there were not enough entries for more than one red-suit finesse.

Even though this was matchpointed pairs, taking a red-suit finesse for a possible overtrick was far too risky. So there was no hurry to rush in with the spade ace. The cautious players ducked twice, then discarded a club on the spade ace, and had nine winner without a finesse. It doesn’t help the defensive cause if West switches to a red suit at trick three; that leads to an overtrick, since dummy still has an entry for the clubs.


Your hand is certainly worth a try for game. I cannot bring myself to invite in notrump (my partner could have an opening bid and we could still be off the first nine tricks) so my next call has to be in spades or diamonds. A simple raise to three diamonds looks safest, but I prefer a call of two spades since this seems the most likely game.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ K Q J 10 3
 9 6 2
 K 6
♣ J 10 8
South West North East
  Pass 1 Pass
1 ♠ Dbl. 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 2016. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, June 7th, 2016

Youth is a blunder; Manhood a struggle; Old Age a regret.

Benjamin Disraeli


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

♣8

In today’s deal when North made an invitational two notrump rebid, South knew that he could deliver his partner seven top tricks. In my opinion the odds favored three no-trump being the best game but at rubber bridge his 150 honors were too much for him, and he bid four spades.

South ducked the lead of the club eight and captured the jack with the ace, then drew trump and knocked out the club queen. East returned the fourth club, leaving declarer to negotiate the red suits.

South made the right first play when he led a diamond up (planning to play the king if West followed small. In fact West hopped up with the ace and shifted to a low heart and South was now confronted by a straightforward decision: which is the right play from dummy?

Most bridge players consider such problems sheer guesses, but South tried to reconstruct West’s hand. That player held four trumps, but had led one of declarer’s suit. He might have opted to play a forcing game, in the hope of making declarer ruff. Why didn’t West do so here, but lead a suit bid by declarer?

It’s easy to see that he didn’t lead a diamond because he held the ace. But surely West would have at least considered leading a heart if he had started with three or four hearts headed by the queen. The most logical reason for West’s failure to lead hearts originally was the same reason that explains his failure to lead a diamond: his hearts were headed by the ace.


New suits are forcing in response to overcalls of weak bids. One must play that way, because otherwise the opponents can interfere fatally with your constructive bidding. It is a good idea that one should never preempt against preempts, and equally, never reserve calls to show weak hands after they preempt against you. So here you can bid two spades and be confident that it is forcing.

BID WITH THE ACES

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

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, June 6th, 2016

As soon as you see a mistake and don’t fix it, it becomes your mistake.

Anonymous


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

5

Today’s deal came up in a duplicate club in New York. It was sent in to me by the professional sitting North, who did not want to embarrass his client by identifying himself any further.

North drove to three no-trump when South balanced with one no-trump over one heart, showing 11-15 points. (In balancing seat the range is less than a strong no-trump: with that hand one doubles.)

When the heart five was, led South called for the six and took East’s nine with the ten. When he led a club, West wasted no time in hopping up with the ace, cashing the heart ace and playing the heart jack. Later he got in on the diamond ace and cashed two hearts for the one trick set.

The problem on the deal came at trick one. Declarer must make the counter-intuitive move of rising with the heart queen, since he can place West with the three missing aces from the auction, and he needs to ensure he can preserve his three heart stoppers. Now he can drive out the minor suit aces with impunity, because West’s subsequent attack on hearts is neutralized.

The same logic would apply if declarer had a doubleton heart queen in hand facing K-10-fourth in hand. He should not finesse the 10 at the first trick, but should run the lead round to his doubleton honor, planning to finesse the 10 if a low heart comes back from West later on.


East’s decision to blast slam without using Blackwood suggests a void – so he rates to have a two or threesuited hand. You could make a good case for a passive trump, a diamond from the sequence (which is relatively unlikely to cost the setting trick) or the club ace. I’ll go for the diamond jack, and start preparing my apologies in advance.

LEAD WITH THE ACES

♠ 9 7 3
 10 8 4 2
 J 10 6
♣ A 5 4
South West North East
    Pass 1 ♠
Pass 4 ♠ Pass 6 ♠
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, June 5th, 2016

I was somewhat confused about a sequence you ran recently where after a two club opening bid and two diamond response, opener bid two no-trump. Why did responder now bid three hearts with five spades – and why did opener bid three spades at his next turn after that?

Head Scratcher, Pottsville, Pa.

I apologize for forgetting to draw attention to the transfer response here. The continuations after a two no-trump opener or two notrump rebid are parallel to Jacoby Transfers. The logic is that you give up playing in three diamonds but in return you get as responder to describe your hand much more fully by transferring then bidding on as appropriate. That lets the unknown hand describe itself far more fully. Just for the record, transfers apply after overcalls of two no-trump as well.

In a recent deal I saw that responder to an opening bid of one diamond with a relatively balanced hand (but a small doubleton spade together with four diamonds) and only eight points, chose to reply one no-trump rather than raising diamonds. Would it not be more suitable to support partner at your first turn?

Raising an Eyebrow, Taos, N.M.

There are two reasons for not raising diamonds. A one notrump call typically indicates 6-10 points, so you are within range for the call. More to the point, a simple raise of diamonds might not be available if your partnership plays inverted minors (where a raise to two shows at least invitational values, while a double raise is preemptive). The flaw in these methods is that in-between hands of this sort sometimes have to slightly misrepresent themselves.

What are your personal preferences for discarding? Do you advocate high for encouraging, or upside down, or Roman discards (odd encouraging, even suit-preference) or some other form of discards linked to suit preference one way or another?

Two-Buck Chuck, San Luis Obispo, Calif.

The more straightforward the method, the better. I am happy enough with standard discards, but I believe there is little theoretical advantage in one method over another. I admit, the one flaw in standard is that players frequently discard tricks to tell their partner something they may know already. And I concede that if people do not ask what you play, an unusual methods may pay dividends.

You ran a deal last month where after a one no-trump opening and a transfer to three clubs, responder bid a new suit, which was described as shortness. When opener retreated to three no-trump, it was presumably to play. Now responder continued with four no-trump; should this be Blackwood, or does Gerber apply here?

Counting Crows, Augusta, Ga.

To ask for aces in a minor set the suit via the transfer, then play that raising the minor to the four-level (or bidding one over the minor if you prefer) is ace asking. A direct rebid of four no-trump here would be quantitative without a singleton. As soon as you show shortness, you transfer control to your partner — if you wanted to ask for aces you’d have done so already. Thus four clubs over three no-trump is natural and slammish not asking and four no-trump is non-forcing.

I opened one heart with ♠ J-2, A-Q-7-5-2, J-4, ♣ K-J-3-2, and heard my partner respond two diamonds (which we play as game-forcing). Should I rebid my hearts, introduce two no-trump, or try three clubs?

Triple Trouble, Spartanburg, S.C.

If you did not play this sequence as game-forcing, rebidding two hearts would be clear-cut. It does NOT promise a six-bagger, unlike a situation where you rebid your own suit after a one-level response. But as it is, I think I still go for the rebid in hearts; my hand is too weak in the context of introducing a four-card suit, and my spade stopper is too feeble to be happy with a call of two no-trump. Alter the spade jack to the queen, and I might change my mind.


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, June 4th, 2016

Battle is the most magnificent competition in which a human being can indulge. It brings out all that is best, removes all that is base.

George S. Patton


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

♣Q

Today’s deal saw a fine duel between declarer and the defense. Both North and South appeared to have something in hand for their bidding, and the final contract was an excellent one. But despite trumps breaking favorably there were only nine top tricks. After the lead of the club queen, declarer was threatened with losing four tricks in the minor suits via a club overruff.

South crossed the first hurdle when he ducked the club queen, thereby neatly cutting the defenders’ communications in that suit. West continued with a club to the ace, and back came a low spade. Reluctant to commit himself immediately to the club ruff, declarer first took a diamond finesse. Now East won this with the queen and subtly returned the spade 10. When the nine appeared from West, declarer decided that the spade jack rated to be to his left, so a club ruff in dummy looked safe. He unblocked the heart ace and tried to ruff his club in dummy, planning to ditch his potential fourth diamond on the heart king. East could overruff in clubs, and that was down one.

Had East not false-carded in trumps, declarer might conceivably have found the winning line of cashing the heart ace and playing two more rounds of diamonds, ending in dummy. This would work whenever diamonds split, or when the player with three trumps had long diamonds.

Overall, I think declarer followed the percentage line, since clubs certainly rated to break decently more often than diamonds – but East certainly helped push him in the wrong direction.


Your plan was only to invite game had East passed. But since a call of three hearts here would now be at best a constructive hand, not a real invitation, you must jump to four hearts. The combination of your fifth trump, and all your cards working well facing likely spade shortage, means this is hardly an overbid.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ J 9 4
 Q J 8 4 3
 Q 10 9
♣ A 6
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 2016. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

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