Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Wednesday, October 30th, 2019

My sentence is for open war: Of wiles More unexpert, I boast not.

John Milton


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

♠J

Nothing would tempt me to open the North hand, but at the table, the player with those cards did not see it that way, and a poor game was reached.

West kicked off passively against four spades with the trump jack. Declarer had no immediately obvious way of disposing of his losing heart, as the club king was more likely on his left. South decided his best chance was to arrange an endplay against West. He therefore sought to eliminate the hearts without letting East on lead for a club switch.

Declarer won the trump lead in dummy and led a low heart. East played small, and so did South. Upon winning with the heart 10, West exited with a heart to the ace. Declarer crossed to the table with the trump eight, ruffed a heart, played another trump to the queen and ran the diamond 10 to West’s jack.

After cashing the diamond ace, West was caught between a rock and a hard place.

A club continuation would float around to the queen, and declarer would then need only to ruff a diamond in dummy. West could place both red-suit queens with his partner, so South had to have the club queen. Therefore, West’s only chance was to concede a ruff-and-discard by leading a heart, hoping his partner had the diamond eight.

No such luck. Declarer ruffed in dummy, throwing his club loser, and finessed in diamonds to make his game.

Do you think West could have figured out to play the diamond ace and another diamond at trick three, to escape the endplay?



You do not have much in reserve for a two-level overcall, but you must not give up. Your extra shape and short spades demand that you protect, in an effort to buy the partscore. Double, and don’t worry too much about partner bidding three diamonds. He would have at least five of them for that bid, probably six. (A call of two no-trump by him would be a scramble here, not natural).

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ J
 K 10 7 2
 A J
♣ K J 7 6 5 2
South West North East
      1 ♠
2 ♣ 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 2019. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, October 29th, 2019

People are always blaming their circumstances for what they are. I don’t believe in circumstances.

George Bernard Shaw


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

♠2

North took the scientific route on today’s hand, responding one diamond and continuing with two spades over his partner’s twoclub rebid. North was showing a concentration in spades and some concern about hearts. In auctions like this one, the third suit shows values in the suit bid, while the fourth suit asks for a stopper.

Three no-trump was thus reached the right way up to protect the heart tenace, and West chose to lead dummy’s second suit, with the idea of leading to declarer’s weakness. This attack would be more attractive from a five-card or even a three-card holding (hoping to hit partner’s five-card suit). All too often, four-card suits set up winners, but not quickly enough to beat three no-trump. Then again, our recommended heart lead would give declarer no problems.

Today, though, the spade did pose a difficult challenge. Declarer could count eight tricks once the club ace was removed. The heart suit posed a threat, however. If West held the heart king and East gained the lead to shift through declarer’s heart tenace, the game would be defeated.

It followed that declarer had to keep East off lead at any cost. South therefore called for the spade king. This was safe even when West had led from the spade ace-queen. After all, the spade two lead was a strong indication that the suit was splitting evenly.

When the spade king held, all declarer had to do was knock out the club ace. The defense could score only three spades and a club trick.



In the absence of a checkback mechanism, you need to explore for a 4-4 spade fit or 5-3 heart fit by the seat of your pants. Since a bid of three spades would (according to some) promise only four hearts, you might miss a 5-3 heart fit. I suppose you could simply bid three hearts. If partner has three-card support, he will raise. If he has four spades, you hope he will bid three spades.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ Q 6 4 3
 J 10 7 6 2
 8 7
♣ A 4
South West North East
    1 Pass
1 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 2019. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, October 28th, 2019

I may as well say at once that I do not distinguish between inference and deduction. What is called induction appears to me to be either disguised deduction or a mere method of making plausible guesses.

Bertrand Russell


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

Q

In today’s deal, North-South found their way to the no-trump game. At his second turn, South sensibly elected to emphasize his spades because of his suitoriented honor structure and his small doubleton in clubs, but still ended up in no-trump when North tried for the nine-trick game rather than raising his partner — a good idea today. But declarer still needed to decide which suit to go after and how to avoid blockages to bring his game home.

West’s lead of the heart queen removed dummy’s only outside entry to the diamonds. With seven sure tricks, a 3-3 spade break would suffice; however, diamonds seemed to offer a sounder chance.

A close examination of the diamond pips showed that even some 4-1 breaks might not present an insuperable problem. South focused on West holding the four-card suit with East a singleton honor.

Accordingly, at trick two South cashed dummy’s diamond ace and, when the queen dropped from East, he was careful to play the nine to this trick to keep the suit fluid. Next came a low diamond to South’s eight. If West took this trick, declarer would later finesse dummy’s seven. So West played low to cut declarer off from dummy.

Nicely defended, but it was not quite good enough. South switched horses and played low spades from both hands to make sure he could untangle his winners. With four spade tricks to come when that suit behaved, he was home.



East has promised at least five cards in each major, so partner must have short spades. Rather than try a speculative minorsuit lead, you should pave the way for the spade ruff that you hope to give when you gain the lead with the heart king. The spade two is the best lead, making it look like you have the singleton. If the heart ace is on your left, declarer might reject the finesse and suffer an embarrassing ruff.

LEAD WITH THE ACES

♠ 8 6 5 3 2
 K 8
 8 7 4
♣ 10 6 2
South West North East
Pass 1 NT Pass 2
Pass 2 ♠ Pass 3
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 2019. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, October 27th, 2019

What do you think is the best way to learn how to play bridge? Did you start by playing pairs or team games, or did you learn rubber bridge first? Which would you recommend?

Tyro Tyrone, Worcester, Mass.

Rubber bridge used to be far more common than it is nowadays. I think your chances of learning quickly would be improved by playing in a duplicate club, where you can take classes as well as playing in events. Teams is easier to learn than pairs, I would say. If you can’t find a local club, the American Contract Bridge League will help. Try them at 1-800-264-2743.

The following hand kept me up at night. My partner opened one spade, and I responded with one no-trump, holding ♠ J,  K-10-6-5-4,  K-Q-10-3, ♣ J-3-2. Now my partner bid two clubs, and I could think of nothing intelligent to say. What would you have done?

Curious George, Battle Creek, Mich.

There is no good answer here. Passing may be disastrous facing a good hand with only four (or even three!) clubs, while bidding two no-trump may send you overboard. Correcting to two spades also looks very dangerous, so I’d try two hearts, hoping to end up in a contract where I have more trumps than the opponents.

Please explain what happens when a player makes a slow bid, and his partner seems to take advantage of that unauthorized information? What are the criteria for awarding an adjusted score?

Blinky Bill, Charlottesville, Va.

Say a player’s tempo for a call suggests a particular action, and his partner subsequently takes the action that might have been suggested by that tempo. If so, the director may adjust the result, depending on whether there were logical alternatives to the action chosen. In other words, you can bid as fast or as slow as you like, but your partner must not be influenced by your tempo.

How would you respond to a three-spade pre-empt at unfavorable vulnerability, holding ♠ J-9,  K-10-5-2,  A-J, ♣ A-Q-7-3-2? I elected to raise to game, and though I wasn’t expecting to be facing solid spades, I did expect more than queenseventh of spades and queenfourth of diamonds.

Unimpressed, Seneca S.C.

Pre-empts vary enormously according to position and vulnerability. Your partner appears to have bid considerably below what I might expect for a second-seat pre-empt at unfavorable vulnerability. In first or third chair non-vulnerable, I might even open his hand at the three-level.

I assume you would open one diamond with ♠ A-7-3,  K-J-4-2,  Q-10-5-2, ♣ Q-10. You then hear a two-club overcall, and your partner bids three clubs to show a limit raise or better in diamonds. You sign off in three diamonds, but partner presses on with three hearts. What would you do now?

Marquis of Mirth, Torrance, Calif.

Your partner is looking for a club stopper, and you do not have one. Since his call is forcing, your choice is to raise hearts and hope the 4-3 fit plays well. (Partner could still have four hearts, I suppose.) You could also temporize with three spades, but I’m not sure what that would achieve. So four hearts it is.


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 2019. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Saturday, October 26th, 2019

Should I, after tea and cakes and ices, Have the strength to force the moment to its crisis?

T.S. Eliot


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

♣J

We end our week of deals from the 2014 European Team Championships with what turned out to be the pivotal board in deciding the top spot in the open section. The featured match was between Israel and Monaco.

In both rooms, North opened three diamonds, but only the Monaco North-South ended in five diamonds. There were no problems in the play in that contract. Even on the spade king lead, declarer could unblock the heart king, cross to dummy in clubs and throw his losing spade on the heart ace before drawing trumps — plus 400.

The three no-trump contract at the other table was a more exciting affair. Declarer took the club jack lead in hand and conceded a diamond to East’s queen. Tor Helness returned the spade king. Declarer won with the ace, unblocked the heart king and reached his hand with a club.

The moment of truth had arrived, as the fate of the contract depended on a heart guess. After the heart ace, should declarer play for an opponent to have started with queen-third or with 10-third? The penalty for guessing wrong would have been 10 IMPs, but South got it right by leading out the jack to pin the 10, and Israel earned a push. They beat the reigning European champions by just enough to take the gold medal.

Had West hit on a spade lead, declarer might have gone after diamonds first, which would have conceded a vital tempo. That would have rejigged the final standings.



Partner’s three diamond bid is artificial, a temporizing call. If he had primary heart support, six spades or a good diamond stopper, he would have bid naturally. You have strong three-card spade support and should show it by jumping to four spades. Even if it is a Moysian fit, it will probably be your best game. Meanwhile, this bid tells partner exactly what you have, in case he has a good hand.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ A J 7
 A J 9 6 2
 8
♣ A K Q 5
South West North East
1 Pass 1 ♠ 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 2019. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, October 25th, 2019

I see but one rule: to be clear. If I am not clear, all my world crumbles to nothing.

Stendhal


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

♣3

This hand from the 2014 European Team Championships in Croatia demonstrates the importance of constructing the unseen hands.

Geir Helgemo’s one-club opening did little to keep his Norwegian opponents from reaching the heart game. Espen Lindqvist doubled for take-out, and Boye Brogeland set up a forcing auction with his two-club cue-bid. South showed his spades first, then bid three hearts over the two no-trump advance, raised to game by North.

Tor Helness led the club three, and Helgemo took two winners in the suit before cashing the spade ace and continuing with a spade to declarer’s king. Lindqvist ruffed a spade with the heart 10 and drew trumps in three rounds, ending in hand. He then cashed the spade queen, confirming the layout of that suit.

Declarer needed to avoid a diamond loser. As if by magic, Lindqvist led the diamond jack and ran the card, pulling off a backward finesse! Plus 620 and 12 IMPs were his.

Why did he make this play? He knew Helgemo from his days of playing for Norway before transferring his loyalty to Monaco, so he was aware of his predilection for opening one no-trump at the slightest drop of a hat. If East held the diamond queen as part of a 3=2=2=6 hand containing the black-suit honors already shown, he would have been in range for a slightly off-center one no-trump opening bid. It is hard to argue with success, isn’t it?



Clearly, you must find a rebid, but none appeal. One no-trump is the best of a bad bunch, showing the strength of your hand but fibbing about the shape. With five poor diamonds and no shortness, two diamonds is not leading the polls. You might persuade me to make that call on a five-card suit if it were headed by two top honors, but not today.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ 7 5
 A Q 10 6
 A 9 8 3 2
♣ Q 10
South West North East
1 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 2019. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, October 24th, 2019

We’re all leading lives that are different and yet the same.

Anne Frank


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

6

On today’s deal from the 2014 European Team Championships in Croatia, the final contract was the same in each room, but the outcomes were very different.

Both Norths drove their partners to game in hearts, and each West led a low diamond. Easts Gabor Winkler for Hungary and Vladimir Mihov for Bulgaria both won with the king and switched to a club honor.

Mihov led the club 10 to the queen, king and ace. Declarer cashed the spade king, ruffed a diamond and threw a club loser on the spade ace. Next, he ruffed a spade, before conceding a club to Mihov’s jack. South ruffed the diamond return, ruffed a club and led a heart to the queen. When Julian Stefanov (West) won with the king and returned a heart to the ace, declarer was left with a diamond loser and was one down for minus 50.

In the other room, Winkler switched to the club jack, and declarer Georgi Mihailov withheld his queen. He won with the ace, cashed the spade king, ruffed a diamond, and cashed the spade ace, pitching a club from dummy. Next came a spade ruff, a diamond ruff, and another spade. When West produced the 13th spade, Mihailov discarded dummy’s last club rather than risking an over-ruff.

East also threw a club, and West led the club king, which declarer ruffed. When Mihailov took the losing heart finesse, he could ruff the club return with the jack and cross to the heart ace. The 2-2 trump split meant that he could cash the spade 10 for his game-going trick, and a big swing to Bulgaria.



You had too little to bid two hearts on the previous round, and now with such a bad suit and little chance of a fit, you seem to have too much to pass but nowhere to go. Giving false preference to two spades on a singleton would be too rich for me, though admittedly it does give partner a chance to go on with the perfect hand. I’d pass two clubs and proffer my apologies along with the dummy.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ K
 J 6 5 4 2
 10 9 5 3
♣ A 9 2
South West North East
    1 ♠ Pass
1 NT Pass 2 ♣ Pass
?      

For details of Bobby Wolff’s autobiography, The Lone Wolff, contact theLoneWolff@bridgeblogging.com. If you would like to contact Bobby Wolff, please leave a comment at this blog.
Reproduced with permission of United Feature Syndicate, Inc., Copyright 2019. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Wednesday, October 23rd, 2019

Talent develops in quiet places, character in the full current of human life.

Johann von Goethe


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

9

All the deals this week come from the 2014 European Team Championships in Croatia. This one comes from the match between Bulgaria and Israel, the eventual winners of the event.

After East’s natural opening bid, Bulgaria’s Rossen Gunev (South) elected to double — despite his flawed holding in a minor — as his safest way into the auction. This isn’t gilt-edged, but it kept his side from being frozen out of the auction.

The North-South spade fit was thus located at once, and the Bulgarians even reached game, each of the players stretching just a little to get there. West duly led the heart nine to the queen and king.

Had East immediately continued with the diamond king, we would not have a story. Even cashing a second top heart and shifting to diamonds would have set the contract, since declarer would not have had the communication for an effective endplay against East. But when East played a third round of hearts instead, hoping no doubt to promote a trump for his partner, declarer seized his chance.

South ruffed high, crossed to dummy in trumps, ruffed the last heart high and drew West’s remaining trump, squeezing East out of his 13th heart in the process. After that, Gunev simply conceded a club to East and claimed his contract, since the diamond loser could be discarded on the clubs.

That was worth 12 IMPs to Bulgaria when their East-West pair bought the contract in two diamonds in the other room after a strong club opening, making nine tricks.



With marginal values, your singleton in partner’s suit should swing you away from inviting game at pairs. A two-no-trump advance would land you in the wrong spot too often. Playing teams, the lure of a vulnerable game might be too much to bear, though, in which case the two-no-trump call describes your general shape and values reasonably well.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ 4
 A K J 10 3
 K Q 10 6
♣ Q J 8
South West North East
1 Pass 1 ♠ Pass
2 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 2019. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, October 22nd, 2019

The best liar is he who makes the smallest amount of lying go the longest way.

Samuel Butler


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

♣K

France made a good start at the 2014 European Team Championships, but then lost heavily to Monaco, the eventual silver medalists, in the third round.

Having agreed hearts as the trump suit, East, Tor Helness, tried for a slam, but was happy to defend against five spades doubled. Geir Helgemo led the club king, which was won in hand by declarer Michel Bessis, who drew trumps in two rounds ending in dummy. Now came the critical point. The diamond nine hit the baize, and Helness showed his class by ducking in tempo. Now Bessis had a decision to make. When he rose with the king, he no longer had a way to make his contract.

Had he run the nine, he would have been home free — he could come to hand by ruffing a heart, then establish a diamond with a double loser-on-loser play in that suit, thus making 11 tricks.

Of course, had the diamond nine lost to the queen, South would almost certainly have been two off, but Helness’s strong bidding perhaps indicated the diamond position. You could certainly argue that gambling plus 850 against minus 500 is better odds than a guaranteed minus 200.

In the other room, again the five-level was reached, and the first three tricks were identical; but this time when the diamond nine was played from dummy, East hopped up with the ace. That was a pardonable error, but one that made life easy for declarer. France had not doubled the contract, but it was still 13 IMPs to Monaco.



Your hand has improved considerably now that you know of a heart fit. Your singleton diamond will prove useful opposite partner’s likely 1=4=3=5 shape, as will the spade ace and the club intermediates. (Picture partner with king-jack-fifth, for example.) What is more, partner has shown extras with his reverse, so jump to four hearts to suggest no slam interest.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ A 7 6 5 4
 J 9 6 5
 9
♣ 10 9 8
South West North East
    1 ♣ Pass
1 ♠ 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 2019. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, October 21st, 2019

There is always a well-known solution to every human problem — neat, plausible, and wrong.

H.L. Mencken


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

4

The 2014 European Team Championships were held in Opatija, Croatia, to determine the six teams who would go on to vie for the Bermuda Bowl, which was held in Chennai, India, while the women’s and seniors’ events decided the European representatives at the Venice Cup and d’Orsi Bowl, respectively.

Our first deal of the week was played in round one, between France and Iceland. It is rarely a good sign when the same team declares the hand in the same strain at both tables, but the French proved one should never say never. In one room, the French East opened a strong no-trump and played there, drifting two down.

In the other room (shown), when Thomas Bessis opened his patchy 11-count in third chair. East chose to double, treating his hand as too strong for an immediate one-spade overcall and South, Michel Bessis, had a crack at the no-trump game, gambling on finding two quick tricks opposite to go with the club suit.

West led an attitude diamond four to East’s queen. The spade shift gave declarer no problems. He ran it to dummy, crossed to his hand in clubs and played a diamond to the 10, establishing his ninth trick.

East should shift to a heart at trick two. If declarer ducks, East drives out the spade ace and has five tricks, but if declarer wins and finesses in diamonds, the defenders now have the communication to take two diamonds and three heart tricks.

The French gained nine IMPs for their enterprise.



It is rarely right to lead from ace-fourth against no-trump, since it often costs a trick and you will frequently have time to switch to that suit if you need to. Because a club lead from our doubleton would be against the odds, we must choose between the red suits. There is an argument for leading a major suit, as West did not use Stayman, but whether you lead a small heart or the diamond five is up to you.

LEAD WITH THE ACES

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

For details of Bobby Wolff’s autobiography, The Lone Wolff, contact theLoneWolff@bridgeblogging.com. If you would like to contact Bobby Wolff, please leave a comment at this blog.
Reproduced with permission of United Feature Syndicate, Inc., Copyright 2019. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

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