Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Wednesday, August 16th, 2017

There is no such thing as applied sciences, only applications of science.

Louis Pasteur


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

*second negative.

♣K

Today’s deal is not especially challenging, but it does require a little care and attention. Against four spades the club king is led and ruffed. Declarer appears to be in decent shape so long as diamonds behave, but when South cashes the spade ace, and discovers the 4-0 trump break, he needs to be a little careful.

If he plays diamonds from hand by leading ace and another diamond, and finds West with a singleton, he might lose three diamonds and a heart. So he does much better to cross to the spade jack at trick three and finesse in diamonds, which is the best safety play against a 4-1 diamond break.

The diamond finesse loses, so declarer ruffs the next club and plays the diamond ace and another diamond. West wins and can play a third club if he wants, but declarer counters by discarding the heart four from hand. Now dummy’s spade six can take care of the next club, and South can cross to hand in hearts and draw trump to score his long diamond at trick 13.

Note that if declarer draws trumps at once, he runs out of trumps. Incidentally, had spades broken three-one, South would have cashed a second trump from hand and played the diamond ace, then crossed to dummy with the spade jack to lead a diamond towards his queen. This protects against all the four-one diamond breaks except those where West began with K-J-10-x, in which case there is nothing to be done anyway (without the sight of all four hands).


Partner’s double is just real extras; so it feels right to bid, not pass. In this sequence a call of four no-trump would be for take-out, not natural or Blackwood. But it would normally suggest greater suitability for diamonds than this. I would therefore guess to bid five clubs, but in this sort of auction it may be more important to be lucky than good.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ —
 Q 9 8 5 3
10 3
♣ A J 8 7 5 2
South West North East
      1 ♠
Dbl. 4 ♠ 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.


8 Comments

A V Ramana RaoAugust 30th, 2017 at 11:45 am

Dear Mr. Wolff
Perhaps , after cashing spade A discovering the bad break, south can draw one more trump and cash diamond A. If either J or ten appears from either hand, south is safe else he will play one more diamond hoping for 3-2 break either way. If K falls from west now, it would be a bonus. As can be seen this line does not cater to precisely east holding four diamonds with K, J & Ten. However , This could be a better percentage play. You my please reflect
Regards
AVRR

Bobby WolffAugust 30th, 2017 at 4:17 pm

Hi and good morning AVRR at least where I live,

First, apologies for the printed error with the BWTA. South passed the first round with his mediocre distributional hand, but now is asked to respond to his partner’s double of 4 spades.

No excuses of mine can make up for the misleading nature of what appears before our eyes. However the intended message of the answer is important rather than if the two suits were diamonds and hearts, then first 4NT as a general take out, and then, if necessary, convert a 5 clubs response by partner to 5 diamonds, that combination of bids, showing hearts as well and asking partner to take a choice between the two touching red suits.

NS needs to make trump their longest combined trump suit in order to overcome the possible onslaught of spades and more spades coming from EW. However when holding clubs and hearts, there is no convenient way to suggest both suits rather than just trying to be lucky in choosing the right one. However with 6-5 instead of 5-5 they have a better chance of guessing correctly by choosing clubs (at least first, before possibly running to hearts, if 5 clubs is subjected to a blood curdling double).

Next, your declarer line of play may be technically correct and if so, I applaud your creativity. However since West not East had the long spades (4-0) it is highly unlikely that West also has the 4 diamonds, which then, in turn would mark East with both a singleton and a void, and if so, that table may have heard from East at an earlier point in the bidding.

Nothing 100% certain for sure, but a good reminder to check out all the evidence before moving ahead, since East holding KJ10x, would then be more likely to occur than normal.

Iain ClimieAugust 30th, 2017 at 9:05 pm

Hi Bobby,

On BWTA wouldn’t a second round Michaels cue-bid be more sensible than a double?

Regards,

Iain

Bobby WolffAugust 31st, 2017 at 5:23 am

Hi Iain,

Absolutely no doubt, with only the other major and always clubs being better, but I actually think
it was intended for South to pass the first round, but now become the responder to partner’s double of 4 spades.

However if a Michael’s cue bid (instead of a TO double) was the bid du jour, then partner’s double would suggest penalties and I would obey and pass.

Thanks for the question and hopefully my guess as to what to do, would work.

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