Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Saturday, April 1st, 2017

There is no sauce in the world like hunger.

Cervantes


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

K

A match between Hungary and Belgium, during the European Junior Championships of 2004, threw up the possibility of an interesting line of defense. Even with the sight of all four hands the killing maneuver is not easy to find. So I think Tamas Szalka was due congratulations for finding the play at the table.

Against two spades, West made his natural lead of the heart king. The Belgian South took dummy’s ace, correctly focusing on drawing trump and not allowing the defenders to shift to diamonds, which would have facilitated their chances of finding the ruff.

At trick two, declarer took the spade finesse. In with the trump king, Szalka found the only play to defeat the contract – the diamond six. South played dummy’s 10, and East, Gabor Winkler, won with his king.

The spotlight now shifted to East, and he made no mistake, resisting the urge to cash his heart winner. Instead, he immediately returned a diamond. Declarer tried the nine, but West was able to cover with the jack, neatly locking declarer on the table. Now South was unable to exit from dummy without letting East in to give his partner the diamond ruff, to set the hand.

Had East cashed his side’s heart winner before returning a diamond, declarer could have ruffed a heart back to hand and drawn trump. And had West shifted to the diamond jack at trick three, declarer’s diamond nine would have become a re-entry to his hand.


This is a take-out double, and you have no reason to play for penalties just because of your singleton spade. I would bid two hearts, and await developments from here on in. If your partner doesn’t have four hearts, he will surely have enough extras to be able to describe his hand properly.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ 3
 A 8 7 6
 A Q 10 5 2
♣ Q 8 5
South West North East
1 Pass 1 ♠ 2 ♣
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 2017. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.


2 Comments

Paul FlashenbergApril 15th, 2017 at 12:34 pm

South might have considered ducking the opening lead, so he could later ruff a heart back to his hand to draw trump.
Perhaps West will find the diamond shift at trick 2, and I think more power to him if he does.

Bobby WolffApril 15th, 2017 at 3:12 pm

Hi Paul,

Yes, that would have created a slightly different problem for West, especially when East would contribute the jack, announcing either a singleton or the jack ten combination. Then if West continues a heart, declarer will win in dummy and likely throw a club on the 8 of hearts unless East ruffs and he likely would. However, after an overruff and then West playing the diamond when in after the ace and another spade from South with the finesse and return of a diamond, another heart scissoring the defense by drawing the last trump and preventing West from trumping the third diamond.

It takes a lot of determination to sometimes thwart a good defense from succeeding. Thanks for your suggestion, since the second heart is very unlikely to get ruffed since West had not bid hearts with his possible 6 card decent suit. Of course West may have still switched to the diamond at trick two and communicated later in clubs for the same setting trick while defending two spades.