Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, October 7th, 2019

As soon as he saw the Big Boots, Pooh knew that an Adventure was about to happen, and he brushed the honey off his nose with the back of his paw, and spruced himself up as well as he could, so as to look Ready for Anything.

A.A. Milne


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

♠Q

This week, we will be focusing on subtle suit combinations. Knowing how to play certain suits in isolation is only half the battle, though. Being able to make the best play in the context of the whole hand is key.

South took a unilateral shot when he jumped to four hearts. West licked his lips and doubled, then led the spade queen. Declarer could see three likely top losers in trumps. In order to avoid a fourth, he needed some luck in hearts.

Hoping to prevent the defenders from scoring a spade ruff with a high trump, declarer crossed to hand with a diamond at trick two, after winning the spade ace. This was relatively safe because if diamonds were 3-1, the defense could probably arrange a ruff in their own time. Declarer next led the heart queen from hand. This gave him an extra chance in addition to 3-3 hearts — that of finding a defender with the doubleton nine. Any honor-doubleton holding without the nine would not help.

West took the first trump and continued spades. South ruffed and led the heart 10, crushing the nine. West pressed on with another spade; declarer ruffed and continued with the heart seven. West won and put a fourth spade on the table, but declarer ruffed again, cashed the heart eight, felling the six, then claimed the rest.

Ruffing a black suit to hand at trick two would have given West trump control, as declarer would have been forced to ruff four times.



You should try to establish tricks for partner in the minors, but which one? It may be best to take the heart king first, retaining the lead to switch through dummy at trick two. You might not get in again, after all, and hopefully you will know what to do after a look at dummy. Note: Partner might have bid a minor at his second turn if he had known what the best defense was.

LEAD WITH THE ACES

♠ 9 7
 K 9 4
 J 10 8 6 3 2
♣ 10 9
South West North East
Pass Pass 1 1 ♠
2 3 4 4 ♠
Pass Pass Dbl. 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 6th, 2019

How should I value 10s and five-card suits in deciding whether to upgrade my hand into or out of a one no-trump opener, but also in deciding whether to open 11-counts at all?

Princess Pushy, Panama City, Fla.

Never upgrade a 4-3-3-3 hand. Consider adding a point when opening one no-trump (and especially when responding to one no-trump with a five-card suit that includes a top honor and decent intermediates — you will know them when you see them). When considering opening a suit, 5-4 shape is worth an extra point, but not if it means you can’t easily introduce your four-card suit at your next turn.

What would you bid with this hand: ♠ 6-2,  J-9-2,  A-Q-10-4-3, ♣ Q-7-4, when, as a passed hand, you hear one spade to your left, three hearts from partner (intermediate) and three spades to your right? Do you have enough to bid here?

Silent Sam, Honolulu, Hawaii

I would bid — but I would not raise to four hearts. As a passed hand, I can bid four diamonds, a natural call, but one that promises support for hearts. This gets my partner off to my preferred lead against four spades if the opponents decide to bid on over our four-heart contract. The chance that we get doubled here is smaller than that this is the key lead for the defense.

Please compare the merits of leading second-highest from bad suits against leading fourth-highest, or third-and-lowest. Can you combine the two methods?

Bats in the Belfry, Elkhart, Ind.

Third-and-lowest can never sensibly be combined with second-highest leads. If you must lead a card from three or four small to deny an honor in a suit where you’ve shown length, make it the top card. As long as you don’t lead MUD (middle-updown) from three cards against suits, any lead method is fine by me. At no-trump, leading second from four may be sensible, but be aware that partner will not always be able to read it.

I found myself in second seat, holding ♠ K-9-7-2,  A-K-8-3,  9-6-4, ♣ K-10, and I elected to double a one-diamond opening bid. I heard one heart to my left and two clubs from my partner. Was I wrong to try to improve the contract by bidding two no-trump? I did not achieve my target!

Barnacle Bill, Doylestown, Pa.

The main focus of a double of a minor is suitability for the unbid majors, with opening values. If you do not have three or more cards in both majors, you will always deliver real extras. When balanced, pass with a minimum opener and unsuitable shape, if overcalling on a chunky four-card suit at the one-level doesn’t feel right. Here, double was a good gamble, but you lost out. Do not bid on and make it worse.

Where can I learn about advanced card play concepts such as squeezes?

Trumpet Major, Bennington, Vt.

I would strongly advise you to focus on drawing trumps, taking finesses and cashing winners, and to ignore more complex concepts. Even at the top level, most errors fall into one of these categories. “Squeezes Made Simple” by Marc Smith and David Bird might help — or make things much worse.


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 5th, 2019

Nothing is so good as it seems beforehand.

George Eliot


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

K

A little learning is a dangerous thing, they say. Consider this deal from a knockout match, where the defense against four spades at both tables began in the same way: West cashed both top hearts and shifted to the club king, taken by the ace.

At the first table, declarer took the diamond ace, then led the trump nine to dummy’s 10 to play a diamond toward his hand, in case East wanted to ruff in from out of nowhere.

When East discarded a club, South won with the ace. After ruffing a diamond with the trump jack, declarer returned to hand with a trump to ruff a second diamond in dummy. When East discarded a heart, declarer could now make only his two remaining trumps — he had lost trump control when he ruffed a club back to hand.

At the other table, declarer also led a diamond to the ace at trick four. However, instead of playing a trump, declarer tried to cash the diamond king. East ruffed and played a club. Declarer ruffed this with the trump nine, then ruffed a diamond in dummy with the spade 10. Next, declarer returned to his hand via a low trump to the queen to ruff a diamond with the jack, thereby establishing two long diamond tricks.

Declarer still had a trump left with which to return to hand. He drew the remaining defensive trumps with the ace and king, then claimed the rest of the tricks. He had made four trumps, three diamonds, two diamond ruffs and the club ace for a total of 10 tricks.



Here your first bid of one heart was fine, though with an extra queen, a call of one spade — planning to compete in hearts next — would have been right. On your actual auction, some people quite sensibly play a “next-step negative,” also called a Herbert negative, after the cuebid. If you can’t bid two diamonds to show this hand, you have to bid two hearts now, since two spades would show 5-9 or so.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ 8 7 4 2
 Q 7 5 2
 4
♣ J 8 6 3
South West North East
  1 ♣ Dbl. 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: Friday, October 4th, 2019

Whoso would be a man must be a nonconformist.

Ralph Waldo Emerson


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

*Checkback

Q

After North’s no-trump rebid to show 12-14 high-card points, South forced to game with an artificial inquiry of two diamonds. When North admitted to three-card support for spades at his next turn, South jumped to four clubs to show shortness in that suit. After a cue-bid and Roman Key-card Blackwood, a small dose of optimism prompted South to jump to the slam in spades.

West led the diamond queen, and declarer wisely paused to form a plan. He saw that trumps would have to be 3-2 if he were to have any chance. He could generate a diamond ruff in dummy, but that would still leave him a trick short of his contract.

It was far from obvious, but the best hope for a 12th trick was to establish a trick in clubs. So, after winning the diamond king, declarer led the club queen. When this was covered with the king, declarer’s first instinct was to play the ace. But since he did not have the entries to ruff three clubs, he let the king hold.

When West exited with the diamond jack, declarer won his ace, then cashed the trump king and ace. After ruffing a low club in hand, declarer trumped his diamond loser in dummy. He then ruffed a second club in hand and got the good news of the 4-3 break. He drew West’s remaining trump, discarding a low heart from dummy, at which point he had eight tricks. The heart aceking brought the total to 10, with the club ace and the established club eight taking the last two tricks.



Even with four-card support and 10 points, with its lack of aces and flat shape, this hand is worth only a simple raise. We certainly would not like partner to bid game with a maximum weak no-trump. One of the easiest ways in a strong no-trump base to turn a plus into a minus is to invite game facing an opener with an unremarkable 10-point hand.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ J 5 4
 Q 9 8 2
 Q J 10
♣ K J 9
South West North East
    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: Friday, October 3rd, 2019

Courage is almost a contradiction in terms. It means a strong desire to live taking the form of a readiness to die.

G.K. Chesterton


W North
Neither ♠ Q 7 5
 K 5 4 3
 A K Q 7
♣ A 8
West East
♠ 10 4
 J 6
 J 9 8 2
♣ Q 10 7 5 3
♠ A 9 8
 Q 10 9 8 7 2
 6 4
♣ 4 2
South
♠ K J 6 3 2
 A
 10 5 3
♣ K J 9 6
South West North East
  Pass 1 2
2 ♠ Pass 3 Pass
3 NT Pass 4 ♠ Pass
5 ♣ Pass 6 ♠ All pass

J

On today’s deal, South became declarer in a dicey spade slam after an enterprising, but revealing, pre-emptive overcall.

North opened one diamond, and East bid two hearts in an attempt to cramp the auction. When South bid two spades, North cue-bid three hearts before removing South’s three no-trump to four spades, showing a raise to game with extra values. South had a great deal in reserve and cue-bid five clubs, persuading his partner to bid the slam.

West obediently led the heart jack, taken in declarer’s hand. Protecting against a singleton spade ace on his right, South crossed to the club ace (safer than a diamond, which might have allowed the defenders a ruff) and led a spade off dummy. East went in with the ace and returned a heart, hoping his partner could ruff. Declarer threw a club from his hand and, after winning the heart king, decided it would be too committal to try for a club ruff, since he had so many other chances.

So he drew the remaining trumps, and when East followed to all three rounds, declarer could see that a diamond break or working club finesse was unlikely. He cashed the diamond king and ace, then ruffed a heart to confirm the count of that suit. Finally, South played off his last trump, and West was caught in a squeeze. Forced to keep his diamond guard, he let go of a club. Dummy pitched the diamond, and now declarer played a diamond to the queen. Since East was known to have a club and a heart left, South played a club to his king for his 12th trick.



Your good intermediates argue that you have just enough to compete to two hearts. Your partner is probably relatively short in hearts (a singleton would not be surprising), but your spot-cards guarantee you can hold the losers in the suit to three as long as you can avoid defensive ruffs.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ A 9 8
 Q 10 9 8 7 2
 6 4
♣ 4 2
South West North East
    1 ♣ Pass
1 Dbl. 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 2019. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Wednesday, October 2nd, 2019

But to us, probability is the very guide of life.

Joseph Butler


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

♣10

Despite having four hearts on the side, South tried to exploit the vulnerability by opening three spades and was promptly raised to game. (Yes, three no-trump was a serious practical alternative for North.)

An aggressive lead is often called for against a pre-empt: Since it is unlikely that declarer has many high honors outside his own suit, the lead will rarely give him anything he cannot do for himself. This might have suggested a red-suit lead from West, specifically a heart. But West chose the safe lead of the club 10, giving declarer a reprieve. After throwing two diamonds on the top clubs and ruffing a club, declarer drew trumps, unwilling to give the defense a chance to score a heart ruff. He then played a diamond toward dummy’s king, hoping to steal a trick or build a discard.

East captured dummy’s diamond king with the ace and returned the suit. Declarer had to ruff and could delay the decision no more. He guessed to run the heart nine immediately and went down when the hand with the short spades had the heart 10. A winning approach would have been to run the heart jack first. Had he next led a heart to the queen, he would have come home.

But perhaps a better approach is to take the spade king, then the ace. When East turns up with three trumps, declarer can win the spade jack and lead a low heart from dummy. That allows for almost any distribution in which West has the heart 10 or, as in the actual deal, when East has honor-10 doubleton.



Inviting with distributional hands is rarely profitable, as partner never knows which of his cards will be working. Here, just force to game, expecting to make it most of the time. There still remains the issue of strain. Four hearts could easily be the right game, so bid Stayman, intending to raise two hearts to game and bid four spades otherwise.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ K Q 7 4 3 2
 J 9 8 3
 9 7 2
South West North East
    1 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: Tuesday, October 1st, 2019

Love knows nothing of order.

Saint Jerome


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

6

South has a textbook opening bid of one no-trump, and North promptly raises to game, giving nothing away. The opening low diamond lead sees South play low from dummy and capture the 10 with the king. If diamonds are 4-4, declarer can simply finesse in spades and be safe whether it wins or loses. But that six is a dangerously large spot, looking far more like fourth-highest from five than an original four-card suit.

So South decides he must make nine tricks without giving up the lead. While a successful finesse in spades would solve the problem, there is no need to rush into things: If the spade king is in the West hand, it will not run away. South can afford to try his other options first.

To begin with, South cashes the top clubs, ending in the North hand. If the clubs failed to break, South would be in position to cross to hand in hearts to lead the spade jack for a finesse. When the clubs do break, South takes his last club winner, pitching a heart from hand and hoping to encourage a defensive error. He then takes the top hearts, and when the queen falls, he has nine tricks. He leads the spade jack from hand (in case West wishes to cover) to dummy’s ace and cashes the good club and heart jack for a safe nine tricks.

If West believes in covering an honor with an honor in spades, South will make several overtricks. There is no harm in giving your opponents the chance to err.



Thirty years ago, you might have been able to respond two diamonds here, to show 10 or more points, not forcing to game. Not anymore. This hand may seem too good for a call of one no-trump, but you should make that call whether it is forcing for one round or not. When partner has 12-14 points, you probably do not want to go past the two-level; when he has more, he will be unbalanced, and you can surely make game.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ 9 8 6
 Q 10
 A K 7 6 2
♣ J 8 3
South West North East
    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: Monday, September 30th, 2019

Laws were made to be broken.

Christopher North


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

♣4

Buoyed by his partner’s strong raise of spades, South thought as a passed hand he could afford to cue-bid five diamonds. North co-operated with five hearts, and South leapt to six spades.

The defenders led a club to East’s jack, then shifted to the heart queen, won in dummy. West threw two hearts as declarer drew trumps.

With clubs apparently 6-4, South knew East had room for only four red-suit cards. West surely had fewer than six hearts, since he had not pre-empted, so East had at most two diamonds in a 3=3=1=6 or 3=2=2=6 pattern.

Assuming West had not underled the club ace, East had very good clubs and had turned up with the heart queen, perhaps alongside the jack. What, then, did West have for his raise to three clubs?

South reasoned West was favored to hold the diamond queen, to give him any values at all. So, backing his judgment, South scorned the percentage play, a diamond to the jack, in favor of leading the diamond jack from hand. This way, he would take the necessary five diamond tricks if East had a singleton 10. He could return to hand with the diamond king for a further finesse, keeping dummy’s trump suit intact.

West ducked the diamond jack in case declarer had a two-way guess. But South had already committed himself, and let the jack run to bring home his slam.

Note: East’s honesty in winning trick one with the jack, not the ace, led to this result by allowing South to drawn the winning inferences.



I t h i n k I w o u l d lead a five-card major on this auction instead of an honor sequence. But here I’m really torn. I suspect the solidity of the sequence makes it a better lead and may still give me time for the club shift. So, I would lead the spade queen.

LEAD WITH THE ACES

♠ Q J 10
 5 2
 9 8 7
♣ A 8 6 4 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.

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, September 29th, 2019

I picked up ♠ 8-2,  10-3,  Q-J-10-9-7-5-3-2, ♣ 3 and opened three diamonds as dealer at game all. Partner bid three no-trump. I did not like the look of that, but I did not feel I could remove it. We went down 300 when four diamonds was making and they had no game. What would you have done?

Broken Reed, Jackson, Tenn.

When you open with a pre-empt, you are not expected to act again unless partner makes a forcing bid. Having decided to pre-empt in the first place, which I would have done, you cannot override partner. Who knows, three no-trump might even be making because partner, who cannot expect you to have anything outside diamonds, often produces good diamond support for three no-trump.

Holding ♠ A-K-4,  A-10-3-2,  A-Q-6, ♣ K-7-4, I opened two no-trump with no one vulnerable. My left-hand-opponent overcalled four clubs, and partner doubled. What is this double? What would you do with my hand?

On the Spot, Bellevue, Wash.

I play that all doubles of three-level intervention are for take-out. With a penalty double, I pass and hope partner can reopen, or just bid three no-trump. At the four-level, since opener may not balance with a double, responder must double with many strong hands. I’d sit for the double here, given these aces and kings. That is a small loss against a major-suit game we may not even make if suits do not break.

My partner and I play Landy over a no-trump opening. We had a misunderstanding when I overcalled two clubs for the majors and my left-hand-opponent doubled, showing values. Partner bid two diamonds. How do you play this?

Spats and Spots, Portland, Ore.

The most common agreement is for two diamonds to be natural. To ask partner for a preference between the majors, you can redouble. Pass would show clubs, prepared to play in two clubs doubled. Rule No. 1 in these auctions: Redouble is always for rescue!

I recently played against a pair who were using attitude leads. What are these? Do you recommend them?

Alexander Pope, Rutland, Vermont

Playing attitude leads, the smaller the card led to a trick, the better the holding. You’d lead the high card from three-small, a middle card from jack to five and a small card from a good suit. Many pairs use them in the middle of the hand to direct the defensive attack, while some also use them on opening lead to no-trump contracts. There are certainly pluses to the approach, but the inferences regarding count are no longer present.

Say you are in fourth chair after hearing, for example, one diamond to your left and one no-trump to your right. Does it make more sense to use the suit named by your opponents as artificial as opposed to natural? Is there anything else that you would recommend?

White Oleander, Tunica, Miss.

I suggest that when the opponents open a major and respond one no-trump, everything is basically natural. Double is take-out, a cue-bid is Michaels and two no-trump is the minors. After they open a minor, you can, should you wish, play both two clubs and two diamonds as majors (5-4 and 5-5 respectively), with everything else parallel to the earlier sequence.


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, September 28th, 2019

When torrential water tosses boulders, it is because of its momentum. When the strike of a hawk breaks the body of its prey, it is because of timing.

Sun Tzu


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

♠8

All this week’s deals come from last year’s McConnell Cup. Here, teams gold- medalist Fiona Brown and women’s pairs winner Anne-Laure Huberschwiller both overcalled one no-trump over one spade, and each ended in three no-trump, but with different results.

After the spade-eight lead, Brown put up the jack and ducked the queen. Then came a diamond shift. Brown ducked to the jack, then ducked West’s diamond king and won the third round. She next led a club to dummy and took first the heart then the spade finesse. Finally, she knocked out the club queen, after which her hand was high.

Brown had correctly inferred that East must have the diamond length since West would have continued with a low diamond at trick three from a four-card holding, to avoid blocking the suit.

By contrast, Huberschwiller took the first spade, crossed to the club ace and cleared clubs. Now a top diamond shift from Irina Levitina as West set up the defense’s fifth winner, while East retained the spade king as an entry.

At trick one, declarer had to decide whom to play for long diamonds. Since West, the hand with short spades, was likely to have the length, that might have suggested knocking out the club entry first. But winning the first spade and playing a club to the ace gives declarer serious communication issues. All things considered, ducking the first trick looks right. Should it appear that West has the long diamonds, declarer can try to duck a club to East, now the safe hand.



This hand is not worth an invitation to game. The singleton in partner’s suit is a bad sign, as is the lack of aces and poor intermediates. I would settle for a plus score in two clubs and hope West protects. We can then teach him a sharp lesson!

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ K Q 9 5 3
 K 6 4
 Q 6 5 4
♣ J
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.

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