Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, January 8th, 2018

Those who have improved life by the knowledge they have found out … round the brows of all these is worn a snow white band.

Virgil


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

♠Q

Bobby Fischer’s now-famous chess dictum is that when you have seen a good move, you should look for a better one. Today’s deal exemplifies this. South opened one no-trump, North raised to game, ignoring his club suit, and West led the spade queen.

Declarer correctly observed that there would be a painless nine tricks if the club finesse succeeded, but if it failed, a switch to hearts by East might be highly uncomfortable.

Given that it was rubber bridge, it struck declarer that there was no need to take the club finesse. Playing the ace would gain if East held the singleton king, and even if West came to an undeserved trick with the king, the play of a spade, heart or diamond would give South his ninth trick.

Pleased with his analysis, declarer won the lead on the table and cashed the club ace, then continued with another club. East won and might have continued spades had West not guessed to discard the spade eight, prompting East to switch to the heart jack. When the finesse failed, the defenders cleared hearts and West discarded correctly, leaving declarer with only eight tricks when the diamond finesse failed.

The idea of playing the ace and another club was a good one, but South missed an even better play. Once both opponents follow to the club ace, a finesse of the diamond 10 absolutely guarantees the ninth trick. Whichever suit West chooses to return brings in an extra trick. Only then does declarer establish the clubs.


Dummy is surely going to have long hearts and a near Yarborough, since it could not bid over one no-trump. The most passive lead I can see here is a top club, since a spade or diamond lead might easily pick up an honor in partner’s hand that declarer could not negotiate for himself. Even if partner has the club ace, the club lead may not end up costing a trick.

LEAD WITH THE ACES

♠ Q 3
 Q 10 6
 9 7 4
♣ Q J 9 8 2
South West North East
  Pass 1 ♠ Dbl.
1 NT Pass Pass 2
Pass 2 Pass 3
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 2018. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, January 7th, 2018

Recently I balanced with two no-trump after one heart to my right and two hearts to my left. I held ♠ A-3,  J-4,  Q-J-7-5, ♣ Q-10-9-3-2. Was that reasonable? Next came three hearts to my right and four hearts to my left! I was once taught that if you push the opponents into game, you should either double or bid one more, on the theory that minus 620 is going to be the same zero as minus 790.

Mollycoddler, Springfield, Mass.

Sometimes the opponents reach a normal game in abnormal fashion — as here — and you were going to get an average had you not doubled. The time to double is when you figure your contract is going to make and thus you need to protect your plusscore. Or you may double when you know the suits are not breaking; here they appear to be breaking about as well as possible.

The following hand occurred last night. My LHO opened two spades; my partner had no spades, the singleton heart king, and six cards in each minor to the A-K-J. What would you bid in his shoes?

Twinset, Anchorage, Alaska

I would have both four no-trump and four spades available to show the minors, with four spades being the stronger action. This hand would qualify for the stronger call, with four no-trump in response asking partner to pick his better minor. As an aside, many play Leaping Michaels here; jumps to four of a minor show that minor and the unbid major.

I’d like to help my friends and children learn bridge. But I learned by reading Goren’s “New Bridge Complete,” and most won’t take the time to go through it; they want to learn while playing. What is your advice on how to help people learn? I think schools are unlikely to do much with bridge unless there are parents, teachers or students who already have an appreciation.

Trainer, Pottsville, Pa.

Teaching children minibridge (where learning about the auction comes after learning how to play the cards) is a good start. With very young children, start with knockout whist and simple trick-taking games. A good source for minibridge is the Wikipedia page, which gives references for many countries.

How would you lead from a holding such as K-10-9 or K-J-10 in the middle of the hand? My partner has been trying to persuade me to lead the lowest card from the sequence.

Alternative Reality, Park City, Utah

When leading toward the queen in dummy, it may be important to be able to distinguish K-10-9 or K-J-10 from 10-9 or J-10. That is the only time I would advocate playing coded 10s or nines, with the jack denying a higher honor. I suppose it may also be critical if leading through declarer. In general, I think that method may give away too much information on opening lead.

What is the best way to decide whether to open a weak twobid? Specifically, holding ♠ 3-2,  J-10-8-7-5-3,  K-10, ♣ J-9-4, I would think my hand too weak for a pre-empt. How much better must it be to qualify as a weak two — or would it depend on the vulnerability?

Ford Prefect, Houston, Texas

Make the heart three the ace or king, and you have a weak two at every vulnerability. If the three were the queen, I would open non-vulnerable, and maybe also in first seat vulnerable, but not second seat. Much depends on partnership style — it is important to agree on expected values for these actions.


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 2018. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, January 2nd, 2018

It’s dogged as does it. It ain’t thinking about it.

Anthony Trollope


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

K

On this deal from an Open Pairs event a few years ago, Barnet Shenkin, formerly of Scotland, was the hero. He was playing with another Scottish expatriate, Sam Levinson.

Against four spades, West led the diamond king to Shenkin’s ace, and declarer played the spade king at trick two to East’s ace. Next came the diamond jack, followed by a third round of the suit, ruffed by Shenkin. Declarer got the bad news in trumps when he cashed the spade queen. Undaunted, he continued with a heart to dummy’s king (it would not have profited West to ruff a loser), followed by a club to his jack.

Shenkin then took the club ace and played a spade to dummy’s nine. East was already starting to feel the pressure, and it became unbearable when Shenkin cashed the spade jack.

In the four-card ending, what was East to do? A heart discard was out of the question, so he had to let go of a club. Shenkin then exited with the club queen, putting East on play in the two-card ending and forcing him to lead from his Q-10 of hearts into the tenace in dummy.

Did you notice the defensive resource? Shenkin remarked afterward that maybe he should have ducked the first trick to cut the defenders’ communications. Had East won the spade ace and given his partner a ruff by leading a suit-preference heart 10, West could then have underled his diamonds and received a second ruff.


This hand is far too good just to jump to four spades now. (You would make that call if the club ace were the diamond queen, for example.) You should cue-bid three clubs and follow up with four spades at your next turn to try to get your extra values across. This sequence doesn’t specifically say anything, except that it promises more than a direct four-spade bid.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ K Q 6 4
 A 7 6 4 2
 A 8
♣ A J
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 2018. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, January 1st, 2018

Heaven is for thee too high To know what passes there; be lowly wise: Think only what concerns thee and thy being.

John Milton


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

4

Today’s deal should lead in a straightforward fashion to a contract of four hearts, but North’s rebid does raise a question of theory. After opening one spade and hearing a response of two hearts, should North make a splinter jump to four diamonds, showing heart support and a singleton diamond, or does that call promise some extras, either in shape or high cards? You can certainly make the argument that North should simply raise hearts and is not worth the splinter raise, but either way, South should avoid going past four hearts.

In four hearts, declarer’s best play is a simple crossruff. He needs only eight trump tricks besides the two major aces, and even if West leads a trump he can make his game — but he needs to be careful.

After the low heart lead, declarer needs to ruff with his small trumps. The ruffs in dummy (on the second and third rounds of diamonds) are relatively safe, but the spade ruffs in hand carry more jeopardy. So declarer must play the heart jack or king at trick one.

The play continues with the diamond ace and a diamond ruff low, then the spade ace and a spade ruff low. Then comes a diamond ruff with the heart six, and finally declarer can play a high cross-ruff to come to 10 tricks.

Try running the lead to your hand, or fail to take the first two diamond ruffs plus first spade low, and you will go down. So the hand is not as easy as you might think.


I do not see any reason to steer clear of my five-card suit. The club queen is too likely to cost a club trick, and if there is any chance we can set this contract, I will surely have time to get back on lead and shift to clubs. I can see a case for a low trump lead, but my heart suit may be lying too well for declarer for that to be right.

LEAD WITH THE ACES

♠ K 5 4
 K 5 2
 J 9 6 3 2
♣ Q 5
South West North East
      Pass
Pass 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 2018. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, February 26th, 2017

I saw a letter from an old-school rubber player asking you about what responder’s cuebid meant when his partner opened the bidding and the next hand overcalled. Does a cuebid always show support, even in a minor?

Fumbling Florence, Trenton, N.J.

In a minor, the support may be somewhat limited but since you didn’t bid the other minor or double, you always have at least three trump. For example, after a one diamond opener from your partner and a one heart overcall, what would you bid with an opening bid with 3-4-3-3 pattern and four small hearts?

After an unsuccessful game, my partner suggested that at pairs a player who had balanced the opponents into game should probably double. His logic was that you were already on a terrible board if game was going to make. Could you comment on this?

Chasing the Rainbow, Doylestown, Pa.

Yes but…sometimes your opponents reach a normal game in an odd fashion – and you were going to get an average if you had not doubled. There is however a time to double; and that is when you figure your contract was going to make (for 140 or 130, say) and thus you need to double to make sure your plusscore exceeds that number.

One of my opponents held a minimum opener: ♠ J-7-3, A-Q-9-7-4, 2, ♣ A-Q-9-4 and he bid one heart, and heard his partner respond two diamonds, which they played as forcing to game. Can you comment on the merits of a two heart, two no-trump or three club rebid?

Second Chance, Sioux Falls, S.D.

There is a huge disagreement on what should be a simple question. For me, three clubs suggests real extra shape or high cards, two no-trump suggests but does not absolutely guarantee a stopper in the unbid suits, while a two heart rebid suggests six or a decent five-card suit. All three calls are reasonable here, but I’d lean to the two heart call since it is the most economical. Give me the king-jack of clubs instead of the queen, and I might bid three clubs.

The rumors from chess suggest that electronic devices and computers are being used illegally in that sport. Are players currently permitted to bring cell-phones and other devices into bridge events?

Luddite, Bellevue, Wash.

The ACBL recently experimented with a ban on cellphones but relented and now allows you to bring them in if you do not have them turned on. I might ban cell-phones altogether if I had my way, but I am not yet master of the universe.

One of my opponents recently dropped a card out of their hand onto the table and the Tournament Director explained that this was only a minor penalty card not a major penalty card. They were simultaneously playing two cards from the same suit, if that is of any help in explaining the ruling.

Muddle in the Middle, Eau Claire, Wis.

A minor penalty card is that one arises when two cards in the same suit are played simultaneously, and the exposed card is a small one. This basically gives rise to no penalty either for the player or his partner, but the offender must play the exposed card before any other small card in that suit. If the offending card is the spade nine, you can therefore discard or play a spade honor before the nine, but not discard or play the spade two.


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

The Aces on Bridge: Saturday, February 25th, 2017

Once lost, Jupiter himself cannot bring back opportunity.

Phaedrus


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

*Diamonds

**limit raise in spades with four

♠A

The following deal from the final of last year’s Gold Coast Pairs tournament produced both a good story and a missed chance.

Playing five diamonds, on the lead of ace and another spade, Liam Milne found the best way to put pressure on his opponents. Having trumped the second spade he crossed to dummy with a diamond and led a club towards his hand.

At his table East split his club honors. So Milne won and drew a second trump, then led a second club towards his hand. At the table East went up with his remaining honor and when his partner’s jack fell, declarer had the discard he needed. Incidentally, had West discarded the heart jack on the second trump, East might have worked out to duck the second club.

Against the same contract Barbara Travis (who had shown 5-5 in the majors) led the spade ace and shifted to the club jack, giving South the chance to be a hero.

The winning line is to take the club ace, lead a trump to dummy to ruff a spade, then repeat the process. Having stripped the spades you take the heart ace and king,

Now you lead a club from dummy, and when East wins the trick he is endplayed. If he plays a spade, declarer ruffs in one hand and pitches the losing heart from the other hand. If he leads a club whether it is a high or low one, declarer can set up a club winner and cross to hand with a trump to take the rest.


You have far too good a hand to pass. While repeating diamonds is possible, it feels better to ask partner to describe his hand by cuebidding three spades. You would plan to raise a call in either minor or to pass a bid of three no-trump.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ 10 7 2
 K 5 3
 K J 10 9 4
♣ 8 7
South West North East
Pass 1 ♠ Dbl. Pass
2 Pass 3 ♣ Pass
?      

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

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

The only person who has artistic control is the director, and ‘director’ is how you spell God in Hollywood.

Tom Clancy


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

*two key cards and the trump

♣K

There are very few tournament directors currently playing with national titles to their credit. In Australia, Richard Grenside was for many years one of the world’s top directors, because he could understand the players’ problems from an expert’s perspective.

Grenside has largely retired from directing but is still an enthusiastic player. Here he is in action with his wife Sue from last year’s Gold Coast tournament in Brisbane Australia. Incidentally, this is one of the world’s most enjoyable events, combining a great event with a spectacular location for relaxation, eating and drinking.

As is typical in any auction where Richard is bidding, nobody held back, and the consequence was that he reached a grand slam where there appears to be an inevitable loser.

However, in seven spades Grenside won the club ace and played a diamond to dummy’s ace. He ruffed a diamond high in hand and played a spade to dummy. He ruffed another diamond high and entered dummy again with a trump. A third diamond was ruffed with the spade king, Grenside’s last trump. He then crossed to dummy with a heart to the queen, pitching the club loser from his hand on the spade ace. Unsurprisingly, plus 1510 was a big gain for his team.

The play Grenside used is called a Dummy Reversal. By ruffing three times in the long hand and using the short hand to draw trump, Grenside manufactured six trump tricks out of five.


While it might be right to pass, it sounds as if the opponents have located an eight card fit, and partner surely has either five diamonds or at least three clubs. Bid two no-trump, which cannot be natural given your earlier silence, to show the minors. You surely have exactly three diamonds or you would have raised earlier.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ 8 7 5
 10 8
 K 10 6
♣ K Q 8 4 3
South West North East
  Pass 1 1 ♠
Pass 2 ♠ Pass Pass
?      

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

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

Beware you be not swallowed up in books! An ounce of love is worth a pound of knowledge.

John Wesley


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

3

The Gold Coast tournament in Brisbane is currently under way. It attracts amateur and professional players from all round the world, with separate categories for novices and intermediates as well as Seniors. Last year youngest ever world champion Michal Klukowski put in an appearance. Here he is at work.

When his partner drove him to six no-trump at pairs after he had shown a balanced 20-22, he received a passive heart lead. Klukowski went for the big prize, by trying for 13 tricks, but in the process he found the best route to 12 winners.

He won the heart lead in hand and led a spade to his king, trying to steal the overtrick. Then came three more rounds of hearts, the club king and a club to the ace. Had the suit broken, he would have been home with 13 tricks. As it was, Klukowski cashed two diamonds pitching a club on the diamond king, and then advanced the diamond queen, and awaited West’s discard.

If he pitched a spade Klukowski would discard a club and duck a spade to the now-bare ace, if a club, Klukowski’s clubs would be good in dummy.

Nicely played, but this wasn’t a top – the bulletin claimed that it would not divulge the name of the defender who had decided to lead a ‘safe’ club seven and thereby allowed declarer to run the whole suit without loss. I suppose safety is in the eye of the beholder.


Help! It may not be the best rule, but the simplest agreement to have of passes of redoubles is that except at the one-level they are always to play. Your partner has shown a two or three-suiter short in clubs and your values do not suggest defending. I would run to two hearts, but an option might be to bid two diamonds and redouble if doubled. That way you might find a 4-4 spade fit.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ A 10 6 2
 10 4 3
 J 8
♣ 10 8 7 3
South West North East
Pass 1 ♠ Pass 1 NT
Pass 2 ♣ Dbl. Rdbl.
?      

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

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

I claim not to have controlled events but confess plainly that events have controlled me.

Abraham Lincoln


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

*weak in hearts or spades

♠2

On the first day of the Gold Coast tournament in Brisbane there is a two-session qualifying event. The top 28 pairs go through to an all-play-all final, as do the next 28 pairs, and so on and so forth. It is a very satisfying format, and it always seems to lead to a desperately close finish.

In the second session of the final, only two declarers were successful in five clubs here. One lucky declarer was helped by a top diamond lead, but Hugh McGann received the more neutral spade lead. He ruffed, drew trumps while eliminating spades in the process, then played ace, king and a third heart.

He had now reduced to an ending where he had nothing but minor-suits in his hand, while dummy still had two trumps, three diamonds and a master heart

When East won the third heart he could see that a ruff-sluff could not be right from his side’s perspective, so he chose to shift to a low diamond. When McGann played low from his hand and the queen appeared, he could claim the rest for a shared top.

East should probably have shifted to the diamond 10 – incidentally, a play that would beat the contract by force if he had a three-card holding including a top honor. Declarer must cover the 10 with the jack, and West can win deceptively with the king and return a low diamond.

This gives declarer a guess that he should probably not get wrong, of course. But any guess is better than none.


Although there are worse six-card majors you could hold, I would counsel you not to open a weak two on a suit like this, without intermediates, but headed by only the ace. This is because you might have three or four losers in the suit facing a singleton – and also be able to take ace and a ruff on defense. Your strong heart fragment is also a negative for pre-empting.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ A 9 8 7 6 4
 Q J 7
 10 8 7
♣ 7
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 2017. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, February 21st, 2017

We do earnestly repent, and are heartily sorry for these our misdoings; The remembrance of them is grievous unto us; The burden of them is intolerable.

Prayer Book


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

A

The Gold Coast tournament in Brisbane Australia sees a steady stream of repeat visitors from all around the world. One such pair are Andrew and Bill Hirst of the UK, with Andrew at the helm here.

West gave declarer a chance in his ambitious contract of three spades by leading the diamond ace and another diamond… should East have discouraged the lead at trick one – and what should West shift to if she does?

After two rounds of diamonds, East was end-played. She exited with a low heart round to dummy’s jack. Declarer cashed the spade ace and king; now see the effect of playing a third spade.

East is back on lead and can’t exit with a heart, be it a high or low one. If he does, declarer plays hearts for no losers then leads out the club ace and another club and doesn’t even have to guess the suit. When East wins, she will have to concede the rest.

A ruff and discard is not much better in this ending. But after winning the spade queen East does a little better to lead a club. If she leads the club king, declarer can win and pass the club nine round to East to endplay her again. If instead she leads the club 10, it lets declarer win dummy’s queen. He leads another club and must duck when the king appears, to endplay East for a third time!

In practice, declarer missed the point of the deal, and failed to bring the contract home. This turned a near top into a well below average result.


Your expected final contract here must be four hearts, but don’t jump to game. You might miss a slam or mislead partner about your hand type if the opponents sacrifice. I would jump to two no-trump as a limit raise or better, typically with four trump. This has the benefit of keeping the opponents from making a cheap leaddirecting call – which they might do if you redouble initially.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ A K 3 2
 Q J 6
 10 9
♣ Q 8 7 5
South West North East
  Pass 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 2017. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

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