Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Saturday, April 6th, 2019

Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work. I find out what the world needs. Then, I go ahead and invent it.

Thomas Edison


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

K

Today’s deal is a real-life hand from 45 years ago, reported in the Australian press.

It represents a missed opportunity for declarer, who had been given a roadmap by East’s double (maybe Dick Cummings was assuming his partner, Tim Seres, had a hand with some defense, given his overcall rather than a preempt.)

The defense began with a top heart lead to the ace. Perhaps assuming that hearts could not be 7-1, declarer unblocked clubs and led a heart from the board. Cummings discarded a club on this trick, and from here on in, the contract could no longer be made.

Declarer should surely have played for the diamonds not to break, and after winning the club ace, he should have led the diamond queen from dummy.

Say East covers, which looks right for preserving the tenace over dummy. Then four more rounds of clubs, discarding spades from dummy, forces East to ruff and return a high diamond. Now Declarer wins in dummy and cross-ruffs the majors. Though East can score his high trump sooner or later, that is all he gets.

The play is far more interesting on a spade lead, when East wins and returns a heart. After heart ace, then club ace, then the diamond queen to the king and ace, South cashes the club king and queen, throwing hearts from dummy. Then he takes the spade king, leads a spade to the queen, and ruffs a spade. In the four-card ending, South ruffs a spade and leads a heart from the board; now East can score only one more trump trick.



There is no reason to redouble, after which it may be difficult to get all your suits into play. Similarly, raising diamonds might lead to your losing a major suit fit. The simplest way forward is to bid hearts, hoping to hear partner raise or bid spades; but if not, you will raise diamonds at your next turn. When in doubt, bid suits rather than redoubling.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ Q 6 3 2
 10 9 6 4
 Q J 4 3
♣ A
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 2019. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, April 5th, 2019

The world, dear Agnes, is a strange affair.

Moliere


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

*Takeout

A

Bridge history records all too many slam bids missing two aces, or two top tricks. Some of these contracts have come home, but surely one of the odder entries into the record books is today’s hand, from the 1997 Vanderbilt Trophy quarterfinals in Dallas.

West led the diamond ace in an attempt to force out declarer’s trumps, and declarer made the odd-looking play of discarding a spade from dummy. Meanwhile East played the diamond nine, a discouraging card that, according to the partnership methods, suggested to West that he should switch to a high suit rather than a low one. What was going on here? West could see no future in trying to cash the club ace, since it was surely never going to get away, so he led a spade, which seemed passive enough.

Declarer Paul Soloway won the king, drew four rounds of trumps and took the rest of the tricks with his seven-card spade suit and his diamond king, discarding all of dummy’s clubs in the process!

So what was going on? Soloway had thought his partner, Bobby Goldman, was showing the two lower unbid suits when he bid five no-trump. His hearts were better than his clubs, so he decided to bid hearts to protect his diamond king. Didn’t he play it well?

This turned out to be a flat board, since the opponents played in six spades in the other room, but Soloway’s squad was clearly the team of destiny, since they squeaked through in this match by 1 IMP and went on to win the trophy after that.



There is nothing wrong with a jump to four diamonds, a splinter-raise showing a hand of this general strength with heart support and diamond shortage. An alternative route is to jump to two spades, planning a call of four hearts next. That gets the three-suiter across very nicely and keeps all three in play as possible trump suits, since hearts may turn out not to be the best.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ K Q J 9
 A K J 7
 —
♣ K Q 9 5 4
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, April 4th, 2019

Home of lost causes, and forsaken beliefs, and unpopular names, and impossible loyalties!

Matthew Arnold, on Oxford


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

♣A

This deal arose in the North American trials of 1999, where the next Hall of Fame inductee Michael Seamon was playing with Jimmy Cayne. It was a valiant effort in a losing cause. Against four spades doubled, West led the club ace, producing the three from dummy and the 10 from East.

As West’s jump overcall was expected to be a six-card suit, declarer suspected that East’s double was partly made on the basis of holding a singleton club; so, in tempo, declarer Seamon contributed the king!

West wasn’t quite sure whom to believe, but eventually came down on the side of declarer (a variation on “Who are you going to believe — me, or the evidence before your own eyes?”). He made the unsuccessful switch to a low diamond. Note that if he had led a heart instead, East might have found the return of a low diamond and then still received his club ruff. As it was, though, East rose with the diamond ace, cashed his other red ace, then returned a second diamond.

Granted a second reprieve, Seamon ruffed in hand, then discarded a club on the heart king and ruffed a heart in dummy. When he ruffed a diamond in hand, it brought down West’s king, and a second heart ruff produced the queen from East.

The 4-0 trump break could now be handled in style: The diamond jack let South discard his second club, and he could then take the last three tricks on a high crossruff, with East forced to underruff throughout.



To raise or not to raise? Your trump support is excellent, but your values are soft, and a singleton in partner’s suit is not really an asset. You could certainly persuade me to raise if the spade king were the ace, As it is, though, the fact that partner didn’t bid three diamonds would tilt me to passing now.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ K Q 10 8
 5
 J 10 9 6 2
♣ J 5 2
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: Wednesday, April 3rd, 2019

In any nonviolent campaign there are four basic steps: collection of the facts to determine whether injustices exist; negotiation; self-purification; and direct action.

Martin Luther King Jr.


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

*Three-card spade support

Q

When West led the diamond queen against six spades, declarer paused to form a plan, even though his play to the first trick was nearly automatic. He could count to 11 tricks if trumps divided, so he needed a 12th.

One possibility was to try to set up a long diamond in dummy, but that would almost certainly require both trumps and diamonds to behave. Declarer decided that a better shot was to ruff a heart high in dummy and finesse the trump nine after having done so. (This line does offer a better chance of making the contract than trying to set up diamonds.)

So at trick two, declarer led a low trump; but when West discarded a heart, declarer had to reconsider his options. Winning the trick with dummy’s trump queen, declarer then played a heart to the ace and cashed three rounds of clubs. After discarding a heart on the diamond ace, declarer ruffed a diamond low, then exited with a heart. West won the trick with the heart eight and exited with a low heart. As planned, declarer ruffed this with dummy’s trump king.

In the three-card ending, declarer had the trump ace-jacknine remaining, and any lead from dummy would ensure he could score all of the remaining tricks. Declarer made five trumps, the heart ace, a heart ruff, two diamonds and three clubs, for a total of 12 tricks.

It was critical here to cash the clubs and take the diamond ruff before East could discard from the minors on the hearts.



It is hard to know what constitutes a life mission, but as far as I am concerned, if I can prevent players from overcalling two diamonds with these cards, I’ll have accomplished something. Doubling one heart is fine, or bidding one diamond over one club on a different day. But two-level overcalls promise good suits and normally six cards.

BID WITH THE ACES

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

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, April 2nd, 2019

So weary with disasters, rugged with fortune, That I would set my life on any chance, To mend it or be rid on it.

William Shakespeare


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

♣2

The odds associated with a finesse are traditionally 50-50, but sometimes you can achieve a 100% result by finessing into the safe hand — and sometimes you can achieve an equally good result by rejecting the finesse altogether.

Consider today’s deal, in which you reach what appears to be the normal contract of four spades, on a passive club lead from West.

To digress for a moment: I would certainly lead a red-suit against that contract myself, since it is far more likely that you need to set up winners than go passive here, but that is another column. Similarly, the question of whether to lead second-highest from four small here would produce different opinions from different players.

You win the club ace and hasten to draw trumps; what next? You should cash the club king and ruff a club to eliminate that suit altogether. Now you must play the diamond ace followed by the diamond queen. Yes, you give up on the finesse, but you have ensured your contract in the process. Whoever wins the diamond king must give you a trick in return, either via a ruff-sluff or by broaching hearts for you, to ensure that you lose no more than two tricks in the suit.

Note that if you take the diamond finesse, you risk going down. When it loses, back comes a diamond, and you will find you still have to lose three hearts.

The technique here, of eliminating the side suits and forcing a favorable return, is one worth adding to your repertoire.



Your partner is suggesting a long heart suit (but maybe only five cards). Opinions differ as to whether this should be forcing, but your heart support and working cards in the minors argue for a raise to game, regardless of partner’s intentions. However, fans of transfers might consider employing them here, too!

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ Q J 9 4 2
 Q 7 2
 A Q
♣ A K 3
South West North East
1 ♠ Pass 1 NT Pass
2 NT 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: Monday, April 1st, 2019

I have seen the moment of my greatness flicker,
And I have seen the eternal Footman hold my coat, and snicker.

T.S. Eliot


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

*Forcing

♠10

Today’s deal comes from the 1989 European Championship and was declared by Tony Forrester, who played in four hearts on the spade 10 lead. Forrester has been ever present on the Great Britain and now England teams over the last 35 years. He is well known as being both a tough opponent to play against because of his imaginative and aggressive bidding, and also for being an excellent technician.

The contract of four hearts seemed reasonable, but when the spade 10 was led, the risk of a ruff on defense suddenly became a serious one.

If declarer were to win the opening lead and try to draw trumps, the defense would score their ruff, play off their top trumps, then exit in clubs. They would eventually collect a diamond winner.

Forrester had other ideas; he won the opening lead, played the club ace and king, then ruffed a club in hand before playing the heart jack. East won the heart ace and returned a spade. The good news was that his partner could ruff and cash the heart king, but after that, he was endplayed. With only minor-suit cards left, he could exit in diamonds into the tenace or play a club, at which point declarer would pitch dummy’s diamond loser(s) and take the rest via his top spades, the diamond ace, and the three trumps.

This deal emphasizes how often, when you need cooperation from your opponents, eliminating the side suits early can put additional pressure on the defenders, sometimes in unexpected ways.



There are very few clues to go on as to whether a club or heart lead will work out better. Clearly, neither a spade nor diamond looks attractive, but I’d guess a club lead needs less from partner than a heart, where even finding a five-card suit opposite would leave us a long way from establishing the suit.

LEAD WITH THE ACES

♠ K 10 3
 J 5 4
 J 10 7 6
♣ K 7 4
South West North East
  1 ♠ Pass 2
Pass 3 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.

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, March 31st, 2019

I’m never sure when to raise the ante after my partner pre-empts at the two- or three-level. For example, if your partner opens two hearts, would you raise to three hearts when your right-hand opponent passes? You hold: ♠ Q-J-3,  Q-6-5,  K-J-7, ♣ Q-10-4-2?

Salt and Pepper, Pasadena, Calif.

Don’t be swayed into thinking you should act with a hand like this, with all those soft defensive cards. You have no tricks for your partner, and if he happens to have six hearts to the ace and a soft minor honor, each side might be struggling at the two- or three-level.

You recently ran a deal where declarer had the doubleton AJ of spades facing the queen in dummy. To make his slam, he needed to lead the jack from his hand rather than starting with the ace. Am I correct that his leading the jack would have been a Morton’s Fork Coup? If not, does the coup have a name?

Happy Camper, Orlando, Fla.

A classic Morton’s Fork involves a “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” decision. But here, ducking the spade king has no downside for the defenders, so it is not a Morton’s Fork. Make it the doubleton queen facing king-third: If a defender hops up with the ace, it sets up an extra winner for declarer; but if the defender ducks, declarer can take the king, then pitch his second card. That is the classic Morton’s Fork.

In a recent Bid With the Aces, you recommended opening one club, then raising one spade to two, with ♠ Q-J-3,  7-2,  J-6, ♣ A-Q-J-9-5-3. After South does so, what should he bid if North makes what seems like a game-try of a red suit?

Groomsman, Hamilton, Ontario

I guess I’d rebid three spades without much enthusiasm. I’d be trusting that my partner had five spades for the call in a red suit. If all he wanted to do was locate my fourth trump, he could use two no-trump as an artificial relay — called Spiral Scan by some. Responses here are to use steps, showing three trumps minimum, three with a maximum, four with a minimum, and four with a maximum.

What happens when declarer plays two cards at once? Is one of them a penalty card, or are there any other lead penalties that might arise?

Double Your Pleasure, Rockford, Ill.

Declarer is not subject to the penalty card rules — those apply only to the defenders. The logic is that the defenders can pass unauthorized information to each other by reveling that extra card, while declarer has no one to pass information to. If the two cards are truly simultaneous, declarer picks up his mistake without penalty.

I was fourth to speak, with: ♠ Q-10-2,  J,  K-10-5-3, ♣ A-Q-8-3-2. When I heard one spade to my right, I bid two spades. As soon as I did so, I realized I had meant to bid two no-trump for the minors. Am I allowed to correct from hearts when my partner bids three hearts, and this gets doubled?

Sold Short, Trenton, N.J.

The problem here is that if your partner has alerted and explained the bid, you will be ruled against. This is because your story, however honest, will not be accepted; the explanation given by your partner will be treated as the reason you woke up. If nobody alerted or asked, you can do what you like — you are not in possession of unauthorized information. By the way, the Unusual No-trump guarantees a 55 pattern. Don’t do it with a hand like this one! Pass and balance later.


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, March 30th, 2019

And one born in a manger
Commands the beauteous files.

Henry Vaughan


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

♣J

There are advantages to being a pack rat (though it is possible my wife would not agree). Going back through my copious records, I discovered a deal from a national tournament of the 1970s.

The deal arose in the Spingold Trophy, where both tables declared four hearts. After the lead of the club jack to the king, East cashed the club ace and erred by playing a third club. That gave declarer a chance by allowing him to try to shorten his trumps and cope with a bad break. A diamond shift would have left declarer no chance as the cards lay.

Robert Lebi, then of Montreal, earned a 12-IMP swing for his team by ruffing and playing a heart to the ace. Believing East’s king was a true card (who would find the false card here?), he cashed the spade ace, ruffed a spade and took the diamond ace and king, before ruffing a diamond to dummy. After ruffing a spade to hand, declarer was down to the heart Q-10 and the diamond jack, while West had been forced to follow suit throughout and held J-9-3 of hearts. The diamond jack completed the coup: West ruffed and had to lead into the trump tenace.

The Lebi team won their knockout match by 11 IMPs when the other declarer was given the same chance at trick three but did not ruff a spade when in dummy with the heart ace!

For the record, in almost every variation, a diamond shift at trick two from East is either essential or at least as good as a club.



Without the double, you would have bid three clubs since a call of two no-trump would suggest more than this in diamonds. Now, however, you can pass, expecting partner to tell you why he forced to game. If he redoubles, you will pass, of course. Even a 3-3 diamond fit may take a lot of tricks! A redouble by you might suggest this hand with king-third of diamonds and a singleton heart.

BID WITH THE ACES

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

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, March 29th, 2019

How various his employments, whom the world calls idle.

William Cowper


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

*Game-forcing in spades with
  short hearts

Q

When a partnership has the Jacoby two no-trump available for slam-interested raises of partner’s major, the initial splinter jump tends to need partner to have real extras — or a perfect fit — to consider slam. In this case, when North jumps to four hearts (a splinter bid for this pair, not a natural jump), South has a highly suitable heart holding but a dead minimum, so he signs off in game.

On the lead of the heart queen, South should try to develop dummy’s clubs, but he can still fall back on a successful finesse in diamonds. So, he wins the first trick with the heart ace and draws trumps, ending in dummy.

South begins the clubs by leading toward the king, on which East alertly unblocks his jack. South takes his king, then leads a low club toward dummy. Since one club trick must be lost no matter what happens, declarer hopes to duck this trick to East. But whether he wins or ducks the second club, West will get in with his clubs and must then lead the diamond queen. He needs to hope his partner has the A-J-10, or that declarer will be unable to guess what to do with the cards lying as they do today.

If South ducks the queen (playing West for the Q-J-9), he is done for. But he should not do that, since West would probably have led a diamond at trick one with that holding. If South covers the queen, East should take his ace and return a low diamond. I don’t envy declarer his decision now!



Your partner has shown real extras, typically with two or three clubs and at most half a stopper in clubs (or he might have bid no-trump himself). You have too much to sign off in three diamonds but neither your hearts nor spades are really good enough to introduce. I think I prefer a three-heart call to bidding three no-trump, but it is close.

BID WITH THE ACES

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

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, March 28th, 2019

Think of success as a game of chance in which you have control over the odds. As you begin to master concepts in personal achievement, you are increasing your odds of achieving success.

Bo Bennett


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

♠K

When is a finesse not a 50-50 chance? When you take a finesse, your odds of success can vary enormously, depending on what you know about the rest of the deal, but you can tilt the odds in your favor sometimes by making the opponents lead the suit in which you need to take the finesse.

Today’s deal shows a hand that appears to depend on the diamond finesse, but you can sway the odds in your favor — and in some cases, avoid the diamond finesse altogether. In other cases, you can turn a 50 percent chance into something much better.

Against six hearts (reached after an insouciant but practical jump to slam), you capture the spade king with your ace and draw trumps, ruffing dummy’s spades in hand en route. The best sequence of plays may be to take two rounds of trumps, then the club ace-king, followed by a spade ruff, a third trump to dummy and a second spade ruff.

Now you lead the club nine from hand and concede the trick that has to be lost, hoping the defenders will give you something in return. If East wins the club, you are safe against any return. If West wins, he must lead a diamond, and you simply cover his card.

The slam will come home if West has either the queen or both the 10 and nine, since you will be able to take two finesses against those cards. In other words, careful play has improved your chances in the slam from one in two to something closer to two in three.



If your partner had doubled in direct seat, you might have thought about jumping to two spades — you are on the cusp for that action. But facing a balancing double, you need a little more to jump. Remember that since partner knows his range starts somewhat lower for the reopening call, he will make another bid if he has real extra shape or values — say a king more than an opener.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ K Q J 2
 3 2
 10 9 3 2
♣ Q J 10
South West North East
      1
Pass Pass 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 2019. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

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