Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, July 13th, 2017

When constabulary duty’s to be done, A policeman’s lot is not a happy one.

W. S. Gilbert


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

9

The system in use at the Dyspeptics Club rubber game include transfer responses to one no-trump. So when South picked up his usual collection of high cards and opened one no-trump, North could look with favor on his aces and kings and transfer to spades, followed by a quantitative jump to four no-trump. That was a sensible valuation of his cards. South, who had never met a 16-count he didn’t like, leapt to the spade slam, and there they were. For the record, to set spades as trump then use Blackwood, start with a Texas transfer at the four level.

At the table the play matched the speed of the bidding but not the accuracy. South won the second round of hearts, then played three rounds of clubs, ruffing in hand as West pitched a diamond. Then he tried the spade queen and jack, deciding not to overtake because of the sight of East’s spade nine on the first round. He barely had time to pat himself on his back when West ruffed the second diamond, and down went the contract.

South’s protestations of being born under an unlucky star cut no ice with North – who knew how many points that player was normally dealt. But there was a second reason too; can you see it?

South should have cashed one round of trumps, then the diamond ace and king, before ruffing the club in hand. Once that passes off peacefully, declarer can unblock in trumps then safely ruff a diamond to dummy to complete the drawing of trump.


Even though you expect the opponents to raise spades, there is no reason to be deflected from your plan of bidding clubs then raising diamonds. Unless partner doubles a high-level spade call (and maybe even then?) you will see through your plan. You may have only 9 HCP but this hand correlates to almost a full opener when you take the likely fit into account.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ 9
 A 10
 Q J 5 4
♣ Q 9 8 7 5 2
South West North East
    1 1 ♠
?      

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, July 12th, 2017

We find great things are made of little things, And little things go lessening till at last Comes God behind them.

Robert Browning


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

4

In today’s contract of six clubs, focus on ensuring your spade winners do not get ruffed away. Trump the heart lead at trick one and cash two high clubs from your hand. When East shows up with three, he is favorite to be the hand short in spades, if anyone is, so take the spade king and lead towards the ace. If East ruffs, you can later cash the ace and ruff the fourth round of spades. If East discards, take the ace, give up a spade, then ruff the fourth round with dummy’s king (if East ruffs his partner’s winner he no longer has a trump to play).

Your target is to protect your spade honors by following suit with your second honor after the defender with the last trump. Had you cashed the ace and led to the king, East would ruff, and you must lose another spade later. Had West turned up with three trumps, you would have played spades by first cashing the ace from hand.

One other point is that you must retain a high trump in dummy to be able to ruff the fourth round of spades high. If you use dummy’s king to draw an early round of trump, East can discard on the second round of spades and later ruff the fourth round with the club 10.

The alternative approach of cashing just one round of trump before playing spades loses when trumps are 2-2 or 3-1 and you misguess who has short spades. It gains only when the same hand has singletons in both red suits.


What is the minimum in high cards and shape that will allow you to double a two-level jump overcall with imperfect shape? This is about it, but I prefer to bid two no-trump instead, and hope to find our way back to hearts if partner has extras and short diamonds. Passing here might lead to us missing a game. Rightly or wrongly, I’m part of the school that believes in getting their blow in as early as possible.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ K 7 6
 Q 8 5 2
 K 7 2
♣ Q 7 4
South West North East
    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 2017. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, July 11th, 2017

The uneducated person perceives only the individual phenomenon, the partly educated person the rule, and the educated person the exception.

Franz Grillparzer


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

♣K

Very few people have heard of the Vondracek phenomenon, and fewer still would believe that it is a serious bridge idea, rather than some kind of a joke. However, the concept is a serious one.

More than 60 years ago the idea was proposed in Bridge World by Felix Vondracek that when faced with a choice of trump suits, it might work better to play in the weaker not the stronger fit. The logic is that if you have sure losers whichever suit you play in, you may retain control by leaving the opponents with the master trumps. By contrast, playing the stronger suit may compel you to draw more rounds of trump.

On the auction shown, South finished up in four hearts when North thought it was just possible that South had 5-6 in the majors, and that otherwise it would be a pure guess as to which major might play better.

As you can see, four spades gets forced on repeated club leads, when the 4-1 heart break makes it impossible to set up the side suit. Not that four hearts was easy to make either, but South ruffed the opening club lead and guessed well to play three rounds of spades before tackling trump.

West ruffed the third spade and played a second club, which South ruffed, in order to cash the heart ace and lead winning spades. West ruffed in, drew one more round of trump, then played a third club. However declarer could ruff, pitch a diamond from dummy on the master spade, and cross-ruff the rest.


Your partner’s combination of cuebid and heart call are forcing. With a hand worth no more than an invitation, he would have jumped to three hearts at his second turn. So you must bid, and the choice is to raise to four hearts or bid four clubs. I can’t say I like the raise with a singleton, but I’d like to make the most discouraging noise I can, and this is it.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ 8 5 4
 5
 Q J 8 3 2
♣ A 10 8 4
South West North East
    1 1 ♠
Dbl. Pass 2 ♠ 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 2017. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, July 10th, 2017

Little drops of water, Little grains of sand, Make the mighty ocean And the beauteous land.

Julia Carney


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

*forcing

J

When you sensibly upgrade your hand out of a weak two because of the vulnerability, you are driven inexorably to four spades. You have nine top tricks in aces and kings, which means that three no-trump would have been a more comfortable spot, by a considerable margin.

But this is no time for ruing what might have been. Where will your 10th trick come from? You might be able to obtain an extra winner from the hearts, or perhaps by endplaying the defenders and forcing a club lead. Is there another chance? There is, and the hidden extra chance comes from the diamond spots. You have just enough straw to turn into a single brick.

At trick one, declarer should cover the diamond jack with dummy’s king, losing to East’s ace. When East returns a trump, declarer should cash the spade ace, queen and king, then run dummy’s diamond nine, taking a ruffing finesse against the queen. If East ducks, declarer discards a heart from hand. If East covers, declarer ruffs and dummy’s diamond seven-six then force out a trick against West’s 10. The only time this line will fail is if West has found a diabolical opening lead away from the queen-jack-10 of diamonds – and if he has, he deserves to defeat you.

Note also that the defenders do best to shift to hearts at trick two, but so long as you pitch a heart when taking the first ruffing finesse, you will survive that too.


On this sort of auction you should expect dummy to put down an opening bid with a doubleton diamond, and maybe length in hearts and clubs, in other words a hand that was happy to defend to both the other two suits, but prepared to compete to three diamonds if pushed. I’d lead the heart doubleton, hoping to get something going in the way of ruffs, for want of anything better to do.

LEAD WITH THE ACES

♠ K 10 9 2
 10 4
 J 7 3
♣ 9 7 4 3
South West North East
      2
Pass Pass Dbl. Pass
2 ♠ 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 2017. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, July 9th, 2017

Can you clarify what happens if South is in a two heart contract, and East revokes by trumping when he could have followed suit, thus incurring a two-trick penalty? North-South therefore make two hearts with two overtricks. Should the two penalty tricks be added to the game tricks or will they be bonus points above the line?

Ice Berg, Kelowna, British Columbia

Remember the revoke laws have changed so that it is only two tricks (as opposed to one) if the offending side wins two tricks on or after the revoke trick. In addition, they must either win the revoke trick with the revoke or the revoker must win a subsequent trick with a card he could have played on the revoke trick. Such overtricks go above the line. What goes below is always the contract – be it undoubled, doubled or redoubled, but nothing else.

After my LHO opened the bidding one diamond, marking him with most of the outstanding high cards, I declared two spades with two small trumps facing a five-card suit headed by A-Q-J-9. I ruffed once in dummy and now had to make a trump play. Should I lead to the nine, jack or ace?

Bobby Shafto, East Orange, N.J.

Assuming the king is to our left we should compare LHO holding king-doubleton (when low to the nine is right) against his holding king-10 in a two or three-card suit, when the suit should be played from the top. I make it a slight edge to play from the top – but it is close.

Holding ♠ K-10-2,  K,  A-J-8-7-5-3, ♣ A-Q-3 I opened one diamond and jumped to three diamonds over my partner’s one heart response. My partner had six hearts to the acejack, plus three good diamonds to the king-queen. The field played three no-trumps here but six diamonds would have been easy. How should we get to slam here?

Monkey’s Paw, Madison, Wis.

Your hand is certainly full value for a jump in diamonds, though you would try to avoid making the call on such a weak suit. I might consider a rebid of two no-trump (or even inventing a spade suit). That certainly won’t help reaching slam, today, though. Some hands are just too difficult.

Holding ♠ A-Q-3,  K-2,  A-J-2, ♣ K-10-9-8-3, is it right to overcall one diamond with a call of one no-trump, or would you consider the hand too strong for that action? Does the vulnerability or whether we are playing pairs or teams make a difference?

Grape Pip, Newport News, Va.

I’m not a fan of doubling as opposed to overcalling one no-trump if the latter is a practical alternative. Here doubling might lead partner to do too much in the majors. The point about missing game is not the primary concern, since partner tends (not always correctly) to assume we have a good strong no-trump when we make the overcall, so he will be inclined to try for game if he can.

Could you clarify what you mean by an upside-down signal? I didn’t realize you could throw a card upside down – I thought that sort of signal was illegal.

Widdershins, Mitchell, S.D.

When players refer to reverse or ‘upside down’ discards or signals, what they mean is that the meaning of the signal is reversed rather than the card itself. It has been traditional in the US to attach an encouraging meaning to high cards, though occasionally a high card shows an even number. In many other countries low cards are used to convey encouragement. You may give whatever meaning you like to your carding — but you must disclose it on your convention cards, or if asked.


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, July 8th, 2017

Hairbreadth missings of happiness look like the insults of fortune.

Henry Fielding


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

*short clubs, agreeing spades

5

Strong three-suited hands are always hard to bid. South opens two clubs, since he doesn’t want to risk being passed out by a weak hand long in either hearts or clubs.

North temporizes with a two diamond response, then jumps to four clubs as a splinter in support of spades. North’s strong bidding should encourage South to bid a slam. Indeed, South should really consider a grand slam, since North needs very little more than he actually holds for seven spades to be an easy contract. However, his partner’s diamond cuebid isn’t the most helpful news and, after two further signoffs from North, South contents himself with the small slam.

That is certainly a good decision today, since with this particular combination of cards in the defenders’ hands, 12 tricks is more than sufficiently hard a target. In playing six spades, South should count winners rather than losers. This is the correct procedure whenever you expect to do some ruffing in both hands.

Best is to win the diamond ace at trick one pitching a club, then take the club ace and ruff a club, followed by the heart ace and a club ruff low.

The danger of the second club ruff failing to an over-ruff cannot be avoided, but the chance of a 6-2 club break is not that significant. When the club ruff stands up, lead a heart to the king, ruff a heart high, then a diamond high, and take a heart ruff with the spade seven. East can over-ruff, but declarer’s remaining trumps are high.


Opinions vary on what is acceptable for a pre-emptive opener, and what is not. You’d like a good suit for a two-level preempt in first or second seat, but you may relax the restrictions if the vulnerability is favorable. When you have a good suit, should a side four-card major stand in your way? It is up to you, but while I might pass in second seat or at unfavorable vulnerability, in first seat, I’d act here.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ Q 7 6 2
 5 2
 A J 10 8 7 4
♣ 6
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: Friday, July 7th, 2017

A mind all logic is like a knife all blade. It makes the hand bleed that uses it.

Rabindranath Tagore


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

♣10

Today’s deal saw South declare six spades after North had upgraded his hand to a balanced 18-19 count by virtue of his great controls. When North showed his spade support, South cuebid his heart ace, North subsequently continuing his optimistic approach by using keycard and driving to slam.

West led the club 10, and it looked logical for South to try to set up hearts, planning to come to nine tricks in the majors and three tricks in the minors. The first order of business was to win the opening lead with the ace, and lead a trump to the king. Now he unblocked the heart ace, cashed the spade queen, then drew the last trump by crossing to the spade ace.

Then came the heart kingqueen, throwing two clubs from hand. Had hearts broken, South would have ruffed out the hearts and given up just one diamond trick. When the hearts failed to break, with West long in hearts, and thus potentially short in diamonds, declarer led a low diamond from the table without cashing the ace. East ducked his diamond king smoothly, and South’s diamond queen won the trick.

Now South crossed back to dummy with the diamond ace and led a second diamond back towards his jack for his 12th trick.

Had East been long in hearts, it would probably have been right to ruff a heart to hand and pass the diamond queen. That line guards against East being short in diamonds with either the singleton or doubleton 10 or nine.


I am sure none of my readers would think of stopping short of four spades. But it makes good sense to bid four hearts instead of four spades right now. You do not necessarily expect there to be any more bidding. But if there is wouldn’t you rather tell partner you were bidding four spades to make, rather than sacrificing? The jump suggests heart shortage and a good hand, not necessarily a slam try.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ K Q 8 7 4
 A
 Q J 7 5
♣ J 6 3
South West North East
  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 2017. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, July 6th, 2017

The terrorist and the policeman both come from the same basket.

Joseph Conrad


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

5

Today’s deal comes from Larry Cohen’s latest book: “Larry Cohen Teaches Declarer Play at No-trump”.

In three no-trump, on the lead of the diamond five, we don’t know whether diamonds are four-four. Let’s say RHO plays the diamond queen and we duck. There is no rush to take the diamond ace even if the hold-up doesn’t seem to serve a very useful purpose.

When East returns the diamond 10, we win with the ace, West contributing the diamond four (an honest card that helps you more than it helps East). Now what? Today, diamonds don’t appear to be four-four; if they were, West would have led the diamond four at trick one. It looks as if West started with five and East with three. If that is so, playing clubs will lead to instant defeat. The defense will win the club ace and run the diamond tricks.

Instead, we should take our only chance, which consists of playing on hearts. Of course, with only seven hearts between the two hands, the odds favor finessing as opposed to playing for the drop in hearts.

If the queen is onside, you will come to nine tricks. Admittedly, if the finesse loses, you will fail by two tricks, but taking the only chance is better than giving up.

By contrast on the initial lead of the diamond four, showing a four-card suit, you would win, and drive out the club ace. You would expect the defenders to be able to score three diamonds and an ace, but no more.


In this auction your re-opening double suggested extras, but your partner was known to be weak, therefore game is not really in the picture. So what does a call of two no-trump show? Not spades; instead it suggests two places to play – also described as a scramble. Bid three clubs, and let partner correct to three diamonds with the red suits, if necessary.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ Q 7
 A K J 8
 9 8 2
♣ K Q J 10
South West North East
      1 ♠
Dbl. 2 ♠ Pass Pass
Dbl. 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 2017. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Wednesday, July 5th, 2017

As if there were safety in stupidity alone.

Henry Thoreau


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

♠2

The South hand is in no way good enough for a two no-trump opener, which should be 20-21. Only rarely will you consider upgrading a 19-count. Your plan of campaign should be to open one heart, planning to raise a response of one no-trump to two, to suggest precisely these values. At the table, when partner raises to two hearts (a constructive call if you play the forcing no-trump) you can offer a choice of games with a call of three no-trump. Now, assuming North decides his small doubleton club is a danger signal, you should finish up in four hearts rather than three no-trump.

After a spade lead, there is a slight risk of a diamond or spade ruff, but South might well decide that this looks like a sensible moment for a safety play in hearts if the diamond finesse works. So it feels right to win the spade lead in dummy and play a diamond to the jack.

If the finesse loses, you will play a heart to the ace and a heart to the jack. However, when the diamond finesse wins, you can afford one heart loser but not two. So lead out the heart king, then play a low heart to the nine.

If you lose this trick, you surely have the rest bar the two club losers. If West has four hearts, you have held your losers to one. And what if East has four hearts? Then when West discards on the second round of hearts, go up with the ace and complete the drawing of trump.


You are surely worth a second call, and the most descriptive effort in my opinion is to bid three clubs now. Since you didn’t repeat your spades, which you would do with five of them, this ought to be a four-card spade suit with equal or better clubs. I’m not sure if a double of two hearts would show this hand and I am not prepared to take the risk of making a complicated call when a simple one will do.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ 9 8 6 3
 8
 K 9 8
♣ K 9 8 7 2
South West North East
  1 Dbl. Pass
1 ♠ 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: Tuesday, July 4th, 2017

Arithmetic is numbers you squeeze from your head to your hand to your pencil to your paper till you get the answer.

Carl Sandburg


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

3

Against your six club contract West leads the diamond three to East’s ace, and East returns a diamond to your king. You can try the heart finesse for the 12th trick. Is there anything better?

There is indeed; you must make the most use of your discard coming on the diamonds. Best at trick three is to cash two of your high trumps from hand. Then, cross to the trump honor in dummy, cash the heart king and ace, and discard your losing heart on dummy’s diamond queen. Finally, ruff a heart in hand and lead a spade to the board to discard your spade loser on the established hearts.

This line of play is a real improvement on the relying on the heart queen to be onside. It negotiates all the 3-2 heart splits, and also succeeds when the queen is singleton.

This is considerably better than the straightforward heart finesse, which is only a 50 percent chance, plus the slight chance of a singleton queen offside.

On average, a suit will break 3-2 about two thirds of the time, and when there is a singleton queen that ups the odds for this line even further.

Incidentally, you will note that had the defenders shifted to a spade at trick two, that removes dummy’s late entry. Declarer must lead out two high trumps from hand then cash the two top hearts, take his discard, ruff a heart high, and go back to the club king to obtain his discards.


The rebid of one no-trump here does not promise the earth in the way of spade guards – you may occasionally have to make the call with three small, so by comparison you are positively over-endowed in spade stoppers. You would much rather not introduce a three-card suit if you can help it, especially when you have a good practical alternative to making that call.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ A 9
 A J 8 7 3
 Q 9 2
♣ K 9 3
South West North East
1 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 2017. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

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