Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Saturday, December 1st, 2018

Now, here, you see, it takes all the running you can do, to stay in the same place. If you want to get somewhere else, you must run at least twice as fast as that.

Lewis Carroll


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

♠2

At both tables in a local teams match, South declared three no-trump, and each West led a fourth-highest spade, the two. The first declarer took the trick with the spade king and played the ace, king and another diamond. West won the trick with the diamond 10 and cashed the diamond queen, East discarding a low heart and a low club.

Declarer took West’s exit of the spade queen with the king, then cashed the club queen, ace and king. Next, he led the heart two toward his hand. East played low, and declarer’s heart queen won the trick. Alas, with only king-six-four of hearts left, declarer was endplayed to lead hearts from his hand, and he lost the last three tricks to finish down one.

At the other table, declarer counted seven top tricks, with another available in hearts. He judged that the best chance of making the contract was to play West for the heart jack.

Accordingly, this declarer ducked the first trick, won the second spade and led a low heart at trick two. West rose with the heart jack and played the spade queen. Declarer took this with the ace and continued with the heart six. Dummy’s 10 forced East’s ace and declarer claimed nine tricks: two spades, two hearts, two diamonds and three clubs.

Had the first heart lost to East’s jack, he would not have had a spade to lead, and at worst declarer would have been able to use his club entry to dummy to pick up an original ace-jack-third of hearts in East.



Partner has shown four spades and no great slam interest. It seems obvious to bid four spades, but might you risk four diamonds as implicitly agreeing spades and a diamond cue-bid? It depends on how smart you think your partner is! Maybe a call of four spades can avoid disaster if what is obvious to you isn’t so crystal-clear to him.

BID WITH THE ACES

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

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, November 30th, 2018

To err is human, but to really foul things up you need a computer.

Anonymous


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

Does it matter?

For anyone who hasn’t already wasted far too much of his or her life wondering why Deep Finesse (a program that analyzes bridge hands) never makes a mistake, some of its conclusions can initially be jaw-dropping. What do you think is par for North-South on this deal from the second qualifying session of last November’s Kaplan Blue Ribbon Pairs? A quick check of losers suggests that it should be easy to score plus 110 in diamonds, clubs or a major-suit part-score — or plus 400 in three no-trump.

Nothing, however, is ever as easy as it looks. Sure, there are nine tricks (five diamonds, three hearts and a spade or a club), but try taking them on the Garozzo play — an opening diamond lead to disrupt the communications. If you win the diamond ace and cash the hearts, the defenders will have a heart and four black-suit winners to cash.

If you win the diamond ace and play a club, planning to unblock the high clubs from dummy to create a low-club entry to hand, then West plays low, and East takes the club queen and can exit with anything but a spade. When declarer plays a second club, West wins and shifts to a spade. Declarer puts up the spade king, and East plays low. Now declarer is locked in dummy to lead a black card, and the defenders can cash out.

The same basic variations apply if declarer wins the diamond king at trick one to play a high club. West wins to play a spade, East plays low and declarer cannot unscramble his tricks.



I can see the argument for rebidding one no-trump rather than two clubs. The former call defines the range of your hand and avoids introducing an honorless suit; but in my opinion, 5-4-2-2 hands play better in a suit contract whenever you can find a fit. So I would bid two clubs, even though I sympathize with the other position.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ 8 6
 A K Q 4 3
 A 3
♣ 9 7 4 2
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 2018. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, November 29th, 2018

‘Will you walk into my parlor?’ said the Spider to the Fly;
‘ ’Tis the prettiest little parlor that ever you did spy.’

Mary Howitt


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

♠2

The field reached three no-trump or four hearts on this deal from the first qualifying session of last fall’s Kaplan Blue Ribbon Pairs, and both contracts offered interesting play on a spade lead.

In three no-trump, after the lead of the spade six to the seven, jack and king, one declarer tried a diamond to the queen after cashing the heart ace. East won and shifted to the club jack, and that meant 10 tricks for declarer.

Let’s say you play four hearts after the same start. When you put in the spade seven, East can lead you astray by playing the spade queen. Now declarer will surely draw trumps, then finesse against the spade jack and go down without a struggle.

But if South avoids that trap, he will strip out the spades and trumps, then lead a diamond toward one honor or the other. Whether he leads a diamond toward the king or queen, West will have to unblock his jack early on to let East win the third diamond and shift to clubs.

Whichever club is chosen, South must decide whether East started with J-10-2, J-8-2 or 10-8-2. So if East shifts to the two, declarer should put in the seven, unsuccessfully, because that caters to two of the three positions.

If East shifts to the club jack or 10, should South play him for both honors? Probably yes, because shifting to an unsupported honor might give declarer a winning option when none would have existed on a shift to a low card.



Normally the range of a one-no-trump response is 7-10, but this hand probably falls outside that range for more than one reason. The intermediates are spectacular, the spade cards are worth more than 3 points, and there is a builder in hearts for partner’s long suit. I would stretch to a response of two no-trump.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ Q J 8 5
 Q 7
 A 10 8 2
♣ J 10 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 2018. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Wednesday, November 28th, 2018

The truth is too simple: One must always get there by a complicated route.

George Sand


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

J

At last year’s Nail Life Master Open Pairs, the combination of a bad trump break and a 4-2 spade break meant that West could have defeated three hearts with the lead of a club. However, Agustin Madala made the natural lead of the diamond jack, and Francisco Bernal made a nice play when he ducked this as East.

Declarer won, drew three rounds of trumps, and played a spade. Bernal took the spade king and shifted to a low club. When declarer played low, Madala could win and revert to spades, letting Bernal cash out for down one and a decent score.

At the next table, Andrew Russell and Ranald Davidson held the North-South cards and gave their opponents a much harder task after stopping in two hearts. Here, too, East ducked his diamond ace at trick one. Declarer, however, won, played the heart queen and a second heart, then led a diamond from dummy. East had to take his ace, but what now? He cashed both spades before they got away, but now declarer could pitch dummy’s clubs on the spade and diamond winners, to register plus 140.

A better line is for East to shift to clubs before cashing a second top spade (he can take one spade if he likes), but he must play the club queen. If East plays the low club, South takes the ace, pitches a spade on the diamond king, ruffs a spade, and lets East win the club queen. Now a trump is fatal, and a high or low spade will see declarer get rid of dummy’s remaining club loser, one way or another.



It is important to understand the logic of opening in third seat. While you can stretch to make a lead-directing call with a good suit and full values (say 13-14 points), you have no reason to assume that it is not your hand. So make the call you would have made in another seat, here one diamond. You might break this rule for an exceptionally good four-card major, but not here.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ A K 5 3
 J 9 3 2
 A 8 2
♣ Q 4
South West North East
    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 2018. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, November 27th, 2018

Mad, bad and dangerous to know.

Lady Caroline Lamb, of Lord


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

*Clubs

K

In the daily bulletin from the North American Bridge Championships last year, a tongue-in-cheek article appeared in which the author commented that the late Rixi Markus had penned a volume titled, “Bid Boldly, Play Safe.” By contrast, Marty Fleisher, who was fresh off his world title in Lyon, had jokingly suggested that if ever he wrote an autobiography, he would title it “Bid Boldly, Play Like a Lunatic.” He suggested that this deal, from the first semifinal session of the Kaplan Blue Ribbon Pairs, would be a candidate for the title page.

Here, Fleisher, playing with Chip Martel, managed to bid the spots off his cards and then had to justify his approach after a top heart lead. He ruffed, then decided West was favored to hold the singleton spade king, so he laid down the ace. It turned out that he had the wrong idea, but it is results that count. The king duly put in an appearance, albeit from an unexpected quarter.

Since Fleisher still had all his entries to dummy, he could cross to the club ace to ruff a heart and then play a low club from hand to West’s king. Fleisher won West’s diamond shift with the ace, ruffed a third heart, ruffed a club, ruffed a heart, then drew the last trump.

When Fleisher played the spade queen, East was forced to surrender his guard in one minor or the other, and Fleisher had his 12 tricks. Martel consoled the opponents: “You were lucky he didn’t bid the slam.”



I would respond two diamonds rather than two clubs, planning to compete over two hearts by bidding my clubs. It is also quite likely that partner has a good hand with spades, in which case I will again be better placed to bid my suits in economical order if I start with diamonds rather than clubs.

BID WITH THE ACES

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

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, November 26th, 2018

Our life is frittered away by detail. … Simplify, simplify.

Henry David Thoreau


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

*Short diamonds, agreeing hearts

10

Today’s deal is derived from a hand from a North American Bridge Championship match in San Diego. The defenders’ sidesuit holdings have been edited to make my point more clearly.

When North hears his partner respond one heart, he might believe his hand is too strong for a splinter raise to four diamonds, because slam is almost cold facing nothing more than five hearts to the queen and an ace. Some people would prefer a jump shift to spades before jump-raising hearts. Regardless, South ought to reach six hearts today. Plan the play on a diamond lead.

Here’s what you should not do: Draw trumps. If you win the diamond and play the heart ace and king, maneuvering to get that diamond ruff has suddenly become just a little awkward. You can come back to hand with a third heart, but now if you play the diamond king and ruff a diamond, you will expose yourself to a force in diamonds. And if you play on the black suits, a bad break in either suit might prove fatal.

Instead, simply ruff a diamond high at trick two, then play two more high trumps from dummy. Finish drawing trumps if they break, but when East turns up with length, simply play on clubs. You will succeed unless one hand has a singleton club and four trumps.

If West turns up with trump length and the club ace is ducked for one round, you may have to guess whether to play on clubs or spades. However, East’s early discards will probably help you decide.



Partner’s (not entirely surprising) failure to compete any further in diamonds makes me slightly reluctant to lead that suit. A spade lead looks like it is going to find partner’s length. While it might set up a discard for declarer, the fact that West responded one no-trump makes this slightly less likely than usual, so I would lead the spade six.

LEAD WITH THE ACES

♠ 9 8 6
 7 2
 K J 8 7 4
♣ K 4 3
South West North East
      1
Pass 1 NT Dbl. 2
3 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, November 25th, 2018

I held ♠ A-Q-9-6-3,  Q,  Q-7-3, ♣ J-10-8-4 and opened one spade in third seat; I heard an overcall of two hearts to my left. When this came back to me, I had to decide whether to pass or double for take-out. I decided to pass, but we could have set the part-score 800 if I had doubled. Was I a wimp?

Egg On My Face, Saint John, New Brunswick

You got a little unlucky, I think. Reopening would have been clear-cut if your heart queen had been, say, the club king. As it was, you could either argue that pushing the opponent into a silly spot had earned you a good result, or you could put the pedal to the metal and go all out for the penalty. In the end, this comes down to a question of temperament.

What is the best way to respond to partner’s penalty double of one no-trump? Obviously, one tends to pass with values; but with a weak hand, should one play a conventional scheme of response or just play natural?

Needing a Nudge, Palm Springs, Calif.

Running to your longest suit with fewer than 5 points is perfectly playable. Similarly, transfers in response to partner’s penalty double of a weak no-trump allow you to bid out your good hands, rather than sitting for the double and not getting your suits into play. In effect, after a penalty double of a strong no-trump, you pretend your partner has opened one no-trump, with Stayman and transfers.

What supplement, if any, do you use to the Milton Work 4-3-2-1 high-card point count? For instance, should one count each card over four in any suit as worth a point? Or is there only a specific set of sequences where such evaluation is appropriate?

Count von Count, Duluth, Minn.

I do use this scale of valuation when deciding whether to respond to a one no-trump opener. Add on a point for any five-card suit headed by at least one top honor plus decent intermediates. It is also useful when deciding whether to open a weak two. If I have a six-card suit, I add on 2 points; with a four-card side suit, I add on 1 more point for that. If I get to 13, I open at the one-level if I have a trick and a half on defense.

I held ♠ Q-J-7-3,  Q-9-4,  7-6-3, ♣ A-Q-4 and heard one club from my partner, then two diamonds on my right. I doubled — did I have a sensible alternative? When my partner rebid two hearts, I still had no idea what to do. What would you suggest?

Mistletoe, Union City, N.J.

Doubling an overcall, then bidding a new suit tends to show a hand too weak to make that call directly. So you cannot correct two hearts to two spades — that would suggest five or more spades and 8-10 points, perhaps. Your actual hand offers an impossible rebid, so maybe pass two hearts and hope it won’t be too silly. Correcting to three clubs will get you to spades if partner has four, but you might also end up playing a 3-3 fit facing a 3-4-3-3 pattern!

When my right-hand opponent opens, I need some guidance as to when to double and when to overcall with a single-suited hand and upward of 15 high-card points. Does it matter what they opened or where my long suit is?

Picking a Path, West Palm Beach, Fla.

Typically, if they opened one spade, it may be best to overcall and come again, or you risk being pre-empted. Anytime you can start with a two-level overcall, you should consider that action, since you have already shown a good hand and good suit. When the choice is to double or bid at the one-level, 16-17 points is the cusp. Especially when you have spades, you may hope to double and bid the suit more economically than when you have a red suit.


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: Saturday, November 24th, 2018

When you ain’t got nothing, you got nothing to lose.
You’re invisible now, you got no secrets to conceal.

Bob Dylan


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

♣K

After the first final session of the Mitchell Board-a-Match Teams from San Diego last year, Steve Sanborn was full of praise for his wife’s play in four spades doubled … but despite the fact that everybody was supposed to be playing the same deals, nobody else recognized the hand. Steve and Kerri were playing against Dennis Bilde and Giorgio Duboin.

The late John Lowenthal — everyone’s No. 1 choice for “Mad scientist on opening lead” — might have led a red suit at trick one. Bilde, however, looked no further than a top club for his opening salvo. At the sight of dummy, he shifted to a diamond, which went to the three, nine and queen.

Kerri played the spade 10 to the king and ace, won the spade return and ran all the trumps. She had come down to the doubleton ace in each red suit in her hand and the doubleton jack in each red suit in dummy, but what four cards was East to keep?

To keep the diamonds and hearts guarded, Duboin also had to retain two cards in each red suit. Declarer then played the heart ace and another heart; Duboin could win the latter trick, but he was then endplayed to concede the last two tricks in diamonds. Making the doubled game was good for a win on the board.

So why did no one else know the deal? It was board 28 in a 14-table section, but all the other sections had only 13 tables, so they had only played boards one through 26.



Does this hand meet the minimum requirement for a call of two diamonds? My instinct is that acting here, while technically very dangerous, is something that you will tend to get away with more often than not. If you are going to bid, do it confidently! Who is to say you don’t have an ace or extra card more than you actually have? I might be more cautious when vulnerable at teams, though.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ A J
 K Q 9 5 3
 K 10 9 4
♣ 6 4
South West North East
      1 ♣
1 Dbl. Pass 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 2018. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, November 23rd, 2018

The laws of God, the laws of man, He may keep that will and can.

A.E. Housman


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

7

In today’s deal from the 2014 European Championships, host nation Croatia faced the favorites and ultimate silver medalists, Monaco.

In one room, South reached the normal contract, despite East’s light third-in-hand opening. After a heart lead, a simple line would be to rely on either the diamond or spade finesse working, by leading to the diamond queen. However, that approach would fail today.

Instead, assume that the contract will always make if the spade finesse works. If it doesn’t, the diamond king will surely be wrong. You cannot avoid the spade loser, but your play in the diamond suit can be tailored to the circumstances of the deal.

So how should you play diamonds for just one loser? The best line is to use the technique first identified and classified as the intra-finesse by Gabriel Chagas.

At trick two, play a small diamond to the eight or nine. East wins with the jack and returns a heart. You ruff the third heart and enter dummy with the club ace, then run the spade 10. West wins the king, you ruff the heart return, and now (though you do not know it) West has longer trumps than you.

But you play the club king and ruff a club, then lead the diamond queen. East covers, and when you play the ace, West’s 10 makes an appearance.

If you read the position, you will leave trumps alone, instead playing out another diamond. Although West can ruff, he must concede the rest whether he plays back a club or a spade.



I would start by redoubling, rather than bidding my suits, planning to double them if they escape to a minor. If my partner doubles the opponents’ escape to two hearts, I would sit for it. If two hearts comes around to me, I suppose I will bid three diamonds.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ A Q J 8 4
 A
 A 7 6 5
♣ K 8 4
South West North East
1 ♠ Pass 1 NT 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 2018. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, November 22nd, 2018

The things we know best are those we have not learned.

Marquis de Vauvenargues


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

♣7

West’s pre-emptive club raise forces North to commit to game or part-score. When he takes the high road, South buys a dummy where he is apparently doomed to lose a club, two diamonds and a spade in four hearts. However, to make up for the wasted values in clubs and duplication of shape, South can find good luck elsewhere — as long as he plays for it.

When East wins his club ace and shifts to a low diamond, South must put up the king. East has opened the bidding, suggesting he has the diamond ace, and ducking would expose him to a ruff as well as the loss of three tricks in the minors.

South’s king wins as West follows with the queen. South next draws trumps and gives up a diamond, and East must let West win with his jack, or the diamond nine will become established to provide a discard for declarer.

After winning the diamond jack, what can West do? If he shifts to a low spade, that forces East to play the jack. Declarer wins and (if he guesses correctly that spades are breaking rather than diamonds) drives out the master spade, with the defenders’ communications cut. So declarer can cash the long spade to pitch his diamond.

If West instead shifts to the spade 10 or queen, declarer ducks and can now build his spade winner in peace and quiet.

Notice that if the spades in the East and West hands are switched, when West shifts to a low spade at trick six, East must put in the 10!



Despite holding a minimum opening bid, you must reopen with a double here. This shows short hearts and lets partner describe his hand accurately. I expect partner has a penalty double of one heart — don’t you? Yes, the opponents might have missed a game, but that isn’t terribly likely.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ J 7 3
 3
 A 10 6 2
♣ A Q J 8 5
South West North East
      Pass
1 ♣ 1 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 2018. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

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