Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Saturday, June 24th, 2017

Measure your mind’s height by the shade it casts!

Robert Browning


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

♣7

Ian McCance’s The Setting Trick, published by Master Point Press, offers a range of problems. You will be able to pat yourself on the back for solving any of the problems in the book. If you fail the challenge, you will be even keener to redeem yourself on the next.

Today’s deal comes from the book, but I have edited a couple of spots to make the point a little sharper.

Against three hearts, West led the club four and South’s king fell under East’s ace. East could see that attacking declarer’s trump holding might well pay dividends so long as South had started with just five trumps. East therefore returned a club at trick two, which South ruffed, as West unblocked the club 10 on this trick to ease the defenders’ communications in clubs.

At this point declarer led a diamond to dummy’s king. He continued with the heart 10 – and the critical moment of the deal had been reached. Danish International Jens Auken described this sort of moment as the kill point.

When West ducked the heart 10 smoothly, it gave the impression that East had the ace and queen, or at the very least the trump queen. Falling for the bait, declarer repeated the heart finesse. Now West emerged from the bushes, winning this trick, then cashing his master heart. Having denuded dummy of hearts, West took out South’s last trump by playing a third round of clubs. The defenders still held the spade ace as their entry to allow them to run the clubs on defense.


At this point in the auction you can be fairly sure partner will only have four spades if he has a dead minimum or is unsuitable for competing further. Since he is clearly not long in hearts, the opponents’ club fit rates to be an eight-card one (or East might well have gone back to hearts). Your honors look more suitable for offense than defense, so I would risk a call of three diamonds now.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ K Q 6 3
 10 8 2
 K Q 10 3
♣ J 9
South West North East
Pass 1 Dbl. Pass
2 ♠ 3 ♣ 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 2017. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.


7 Comments

Bruce karlsonJuly 8th, 2017 at 12:31 pm

That C10 would look smell like a trump stack with West. Why else bother about Club communication if declarer cannot be put into trump trouble. Ergo, I would lead trump toward the 10 hoping to catch both honors but perhaps OK if they split since I own the intermediates. If this is dumb beyond words, kindness please as I venture into this lion’s den with 600MPs.

Iain ClimieJuly 8th, 2017 at 2:42 pm

Hi Bruce,

Worth a try but TOCM would probably give East HQ alone.

Regards,

Iain

Bobby WolffJuly 8th, 2017 at 3:00 pm

Hi Bruce,

First of all while possessing 600 Master Points likely doesn’t mean being among the World’s best, it is nothing to be ashamed of and more than many thousands of current ACBL players, not to mention already being a tournament player yourself, which in some ways, marks you as a step closer to the elite than you modestly take credit.

However, even though your play of leading low to the 10 has a certain safety play attachment, I would not recommend it, since if East, by chance, would have the singleton queen, or even AQxx, it, at least on this hand, be disastrous. Keep in mind that once, in today’s column hand, after the first heart holds, it figures to cost little to switch to knocking out the ace of spades before leading a second trump. Yes, sort of cat and mouse playing, but not that unusual at high levels, in the constant mind bridge battles between the declaring side and the defense.

Your play does remind me of a long ago partner of mine, who, while declaring at IMPs and before leaving dummy which had an AQx combination, cashed the ace rather than come back to his hand and later be faced with taking that finesse, which, if won would only be an overtrick, but if lost would lose control of the trump suit, but did not want to trust and thus tempt himself to not do so calling itself his version of a “safety play”.

Sort of the same solution suggested by you, but the technical disadvantages of so doing (on this hand) outweiigh your good intentions.

Also please excuse the right or wrong lead of either the seven or four of clubs (third or fourth best), both of which being indicated in the bidding diagram and text as the opening lead.

Such a flagrant error probably should not materially effect the play but it does hurt the eye and certainly does embarrass me and my team’s feelings.

On a positive side, thanks for your suggestion, which in itself, shows an attempt to solve the danger of losing control of the trumps, always a sophisticated subject, and often a possible danger in declaring a trump suit contract.

Bobby WolffJuly 8th, 2017 at 3:10 pm

Hi Iain,

Another crossed in the mail same suggestion.

While never a serious dilemma, I feel disadvantaged, although with how the world's time is kept which after all will, one not so fine day (at least for me), cause me to live to a later time in your part of the world than mine.

Should I consider a life's move toward your location or is it only what I think it is, an illusion?

jim2July 9th, 2017 at 9:44 pm

I think once the first trump was ducked, that I would lead spades. Yes, this may allow a spade ruff (e.g., if one hand holds Axxx of spades), but setting up one’s side suit first when holding weak trumps is always a good thing. For that matter, if there is a short spade hand, it may have only trump honors left, so a spade ruff would not set me.

Bobby WolffJuly 9th, 2017 at 11:18 pm

Hi Jim2,

Yes, I agree with you and for your reasons expressed. Oft times a 100% play to work is not available and when so, the best percentage try becomes the right play to make.

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