Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, September 23rd, 2012

I held ♠ A-Q-8-3-2,  7-4,  K-J-10, ♣ K-10-7. How should I advance at unfavorable vulnerability after hearing partner open three clubs in second seat and the next hand bid three diamonds? Is doubling unreasonable, or should I simply raise clubs, and if so, to what level? Or should I bid three spades?

Multiple Choice, Lakeland, Fla.

I'd expect a club contract facing seven decent clubs and maybe a queen on the side to make 10 tricks most of the time. But I'd close my eyes and bid three no-trump, expecting to beat three diamonds by no more than a trick. Double here would be penalties, but very risky, while three spades is nonforcing though encouraging.

My hand was ♠ 9-2,  7-4-3,  K-Q-9-7, ♣ Q-10-6-4. I heard one spade on my left and two spades from my partner (Michaels cue-bid, showing 5-5 in hearts and a minor). My partner said a call of two no-trump was right, but I thought three clubs was better.

Up-or-Down Vote, Ketchikan, Alaska

The answer is more about partnership agreement than right or wrong. I like to play three clubs here as pass or correct, while two no-trump invites game and asks for the minor. So with your hand I'd simply bid three hearts to show weakness. With the same hand and the king of hearts, I'd bid three diamonds, which I play as inviting game in the MAJOR.

I know computers are beginning to dominate chess and backgammon. Why do they lag so far behind at bridge?

Following Hal, Trenton, N.J.

Off the cuff I'd say that the language of bidding is so flexible that you can't become an expert player without human as opposed to robotic qualities. In the play, computers are beginning to learn how to adapt their picture of the deal from additional information they acquire, but there are still too many variables for them to compete at even the level of a decent human player. Give it time, maybe 10-15 years.

Where do you stand on the spectrum of light opening bids, pre-empts and overcalls? And has your position changed as you grew older?

Sixties Swinger, Eau Claire, Wis.

I firmly believe that partnership trust is worth more than the IMPs won or lost on any single deal. So in second seat or when vulnerable, I tend to be very sound. I do open shapely minimum hands as often as the next man, but my two-level overcalls are disciplined. I might step out of line in third seat or when pre-empting nonvulnerable, but what is out of line for me might be seen as fuddy-duddy by the younger generation.

Recently you ran a problem where you had 11 points facing a two-no-trump opening bid. Eleven plus 21 comes to 32, which means you could be off two aces. Your partner's bid usually shows a balanced hand. How are you suggesting a slam without at least another jack?

Fear of Heights, Harrisburg, Pa.

When it comes to 11-counts facing a two-no-trump opening, I don't worry about aces too much. In my life and in that of most people, there has been an occasion or two where 32 points combined missed two aces. I saw Meckstroth and Rodwell do it once in the last decade! It won't happen again, I promise. As for you, don't worry about it. Of course, finding a fit means fewer HCP may be necessary; find the fit first, then check on aces later.


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 2012. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Saturday, September 22nd, 2012

But Jack, no panic showing,
Just watched his beanstalk growing,
And twined with tender fingers
the tendrils up the pole.

Guy Carryl


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

♣K

On "Dad's Army," an old British television show, there was a character who was given to exclaiming "Don't panic!" A bad trump break can often inspire such sentiments, but stay focused and you can often limit the damage, or even emerge triumphant.

Today’s deal was just such an example. In six spades South appeared to have a decent chance to make 12 tricks in some comfort if spades behaved. He won the club lead and advanced the spade 10, covered by the king and ace, with West pitching a club.

The 5-0 break posed considerable problems. As East clearly had a singleton club, declarer needed East to hold three or four hearts and for at least one diamond ruff to stand up.

So he cashed the heart ace, king and queen, since East’s length in that suit would dictate the rest of the plan. To his surprise, West showed out on the third round, so South ruffed a heart in hand, played the diamond ace and king, then ruffed a diamond low.

In the four-card ending with the lead in dummy, North had the spade five and three losing clubs, South had the Q-J-6 of spades and a diamond, while East had his four low spades.

South led a club from dummy, overruffed East’s seven with his queen, then ruffed a diamond with dummy’s spade five, forcing East to overruff with the eight. In the two-card ending, East had to lead from his 9-4 of spades into declarer’s tenace — contract made!



Your partner has shown a powerhouse, but at this moment it is not clear if he has secondary hearts to go with his diamonds. However, you don't have to guess. Simply bid three hearts and your partner will raise with four, give delayed spade support with three, or take some other descriptive action.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ K 9 8 7 4
 J 9 6 2
 J 9 7
♣ 3
South West North East
1♣ Dbl. 2♣
2♠ Pass 3 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 2012. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, September 21st, 2012

To throw away the dearest thing he owned
As ’twere a careless trifle.

William Shakespeare


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

♠J

Today's deal from the United Kingdom occurred in a Gold Cup match, a knockout tournament that is organized in its early stages across the whole country until the field is reduced to eight teams, whereupon the final stages are played at a single venue.

The hero of the deal was Gunnar Hallberg, who sat West. Gunnar is an expatriate Swede who came to London for the rubber bridge two decades ago and has since won a series of European and world titles for the English senior team.

You may want to cover up the South and East hands to see whether you would have found the winning play.

Against three no-trump the defense started with three rounds of spades, declarer holding up his ace until the third round. Declarer now needed to establish one of the minors, and the diamond suit is clearly the more promising option. It looks as if South will succeed because East cannot gain the lead to cash his spades.

However, when declarer cashed the diamond ace, Hallberg dropped his king! Now there was no way East could be prevented from gaining the lead with his jack, and three no-trump had to go down.

It was just as well for Hallberg’s team that he found such a good defense because in the other room North-South had lost their way and ended up in a hopeless five clubs. But Gunnar’s defense helped to level the board.



As my problems go, this one is a bit of a gimme. Your choice is to rebid one no-trump or to repeat diamonds. Just for the record, a call of two hearts would be a reverse, forcing partner to give preference at the three-level and showing at least an ace more than you hold. Of the two choices, rebidding one no-trump limits the hand and describes what you have; two diamonds wrongly emphasizes diamonds.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ 4 3
 K Q J 3
 Q 9 6 5 2
♣ A 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 2012. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, September 20th, 2012

Nothing puzzles me more than time and space; and yet nothing troubles me less, as I never think about them.

Charles Lamb


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

6

Reaching six no-trump from the North seat would be too hard for most of us. After you open two clubs and rebid two no-trump to show a good 22-24 points, you have failed the "test." Incidentally, North might have explored for a minor-suit fit, the easiest way being to jump to five no-trump to offer a choice of slams.

Of course, West leads a heart. Resignedly, you call for dummy’s heart queen, not in the least surprised when this loses to East’s king. How will you play the contract when East returns a second round of hearts, removing your safe entry to dummy at an inconvenient moment?

Five diamond tricks and four club tricks will bring the total to 12. You will need to find East with the club king, of course, but you must also solve the blockage problem in diamonds. The best line is to lead the club queen from dummy. If East follows with a low club, you must unblock the club 10 from your hand. When the finesse wins, as you must hope, you continue with a low club to your jack. If East began with a doubleton or tripleton club king, you will be able to pick up the clubs. Then you can unblock the three top diamond honors and finally return to dummy by overtaking the club five with dummy’s six.

Dummy’s two remaining diamonds, plus the top spades in your hand, will allow you to claim the slam.



Your partner's jump to three diamonds is invitational, not forcing. (With a game-force, he would start with a cuebid.) So you can expect a 5-4 hand with extras, and in that context your best game is surely four hearts since it is easy to imagine hands where both red suits will have three top losers. So bid four hearts.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ 6 5
 A Q
 J 8 7 4 3
♣ Q 6 4 2
South West North East
1 1♠
Dbl. Pass 3 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 2012. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Wednesday, September 19th, 2012

I boast myself the senior, th' others are
Youths, that attend in free and friendly care
Great-souled Telemachus, and are his peers….

George Chapman


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

*Spade support, 7-9 points

♣K

The advent of senior events at European and world championship levels brought many names from the past back into the playing arena. For instance, Joe MacHale first represented Ireland at the 1953 European Championships, held in Helsinki. Fifty years on, he was again in action under the Irish flag, in Salsamaggiore, Italy. His handling of today's contract showed that his skills remained intact.

As South, MacHale reached four spades after West had suggested he held most of the outstanding high cards. By chance he had managed to avoid playing four hearts, which would have been hopeless on a club lead. (Perhaps that is what is meant by the luck of the Irish.)

West led the club king against four spades, ducked by declarer. Next came ace and another diamond. On the established queen and jack, declarer did not discard his losing club, but two hearts from hand. He had appreciated that the way home lay in making two heart tricks, but without first losing two tricks in the suit. The bidding made West the likely candidate to hold the outstanding honors.

Joe now played ace and another heart, endplaying West. West’s best exit is a trump, but if he leads the nine, declarer covers, thus establishing two spade entries to dummy, one to ruff a heart, bringing down the king, and the second to cash the established jack for a club discard in hand. If instead West had played the spade five, it would have been covered by the eight to achieve a similar position.



One no-trump here should guarantee a club stopper while not necessarily guaranteeing heart length. It would be quixotic to introduce a three-card suit here, so what are you left with? The answer is to double one heart. This shows hearts and is for penalty. When the opponents run to two clubs, you may decide to balance with two hearts. Even if East has four hearts, that would not be the end of the world.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ A 10 8
 J 10 6 3
 Q J 9
♣ 9 6 2
South West North East
Pass 1♣ Dbl. 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 2012. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, September 18th, 2012

Therefore the sage knows without going about,
Understands without seeing.

Lao-Tzu


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

10

Only one line of defense will defeat South's contract, but to find it, East had to visualize the holdings needed in the unseen hands.

Against three no-trump West led the diamond 10, and declarer could count eight tricks, with the ninth to come from a 3-3 break in clubs or hearts.

Declarer put in the diamond queen, cashed the club ace and king, and on seeing the jack and 10 fall from West, decided, rightly as it transpired, that clubs were not breaking, so he broached hearts. As a heart trick had to be lost, and expecting to lose no more than three spade tricks, declarer played a low heart to dummy’s eight.

On winning the heart, East did some calculating. West could hold just one high card — either the diamond king, the heart king, or the spade ace. If he held one of the red kings, there would be no defense. But even if he had the spade ace, the defense would have to be precise. East appreciated that on any return bar a spade, the likely 3-3 heart break would see declarer home. Thus four quick spade tricks were needed. For this to be possible, South had to have exactly the doubleton spade queen, and the only way to take those four tricks was to lead the spade king right now. East did so, and a second spade went to the queen and ace. West’s last spade, through dummy’s 10-8, produced the requisite four tricks. Nicely done.



You are clearly too good to pass here, but equally you can't drive to game — partner could have a Yarborough. A continuation of one no-trump shows 18-20 high cards, so you can bid two no-trump to suggest a good two-no-trump opening bid and let partner decide what to do.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ Q 4
 A K 7 3
 K 6 4
♣ A K Q 2
South West North East
1
Dbl. 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 2012. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, September 17th, 2012

Sometimes these cogitations still amaze
The troubled midnight and the noon’s repose.

T. S. Eliot


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

* Heart raise, 6-9 points

In today's hand from the Women's teams at the 2002 European Championship, declarer was able to restrict her losers in the fourth suit to just one, regardless of the location of the missing honors, by eliminating the other three suits.

Against four spades West led the heart nine. Declarer rose with the ace and immediately ruffed the heart jack. The spade queen came next, then another spade to the king and ace. At this point in the deal declarer has two sure diamond losers and thus to insure her contract needs to hold her club losers to one. It would be easy to guess the suit – but why guess when you have a sure thing?

With trump and hearts eliminated, declarer set about diamonds by leading the jack.

This ran to West’s king, and rather than give a ruff and discard or open up the clubs, West returned a diamond to East’s ace. East did her best by playing another diamond. Nicola ruffed her winning diamond queen in dummy to lead the club queen, (a low club would have had the same effect in this position). Irrespective of the location of the missing club honors, this was guaranteed to be the winning play. In practice East covered with the king, and on taking the ace, declarer conceded just one club trick to the jack.

Had West held the king she would now have been endplayed into either giving declarer a ruff and discard, or returning a club into declarer’s tenace.



The opponents have surely reached a 4-3 or 5-3 fit, with dummy likely to offer a ruffing value. One line of defense might be to lead trump, but then declarer's diamonds will surely set up. Another approach is to keep leading hearts to try to build trump tricks for your partner. The most passive option is to lead clubs, and I think I'd do that.

LEAD WITH THE ACES

♠ 6 2
 K 9 7 5 3
 J 4
♣ 9 7 6 2
South West North East
1 Pass 1♠
Pass 1 NT Pass Pass
2 2♠ 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 2012. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, September 16th, 2012

Recently my partner opened one heart in third seat and rebid two no-trump over my response of one no-trump, with: ♠ A-Q-9-7, ♣ Q-10-4-3-2, ♠ 3-2,  A-7. I argued that he should bid two spades, or invent a minor-suit. What do you say?

Trapper John, Memphis, Tenn.

You've covered quite a lot of suggestions here but no one has hit on my preferred action (or inaction, you might say). Passing is clearly right here; responder has neither hearts nor spades, and has a weak hand – why with a misfit would you want to raise the level of the auction. Pass and keep your fingers crossed, I say.

Could you please answer a beginner's question: how does the forcing no-trump work to distinguish good and bad raises? And is there a simple cut-off point for raising partner's major-suit openings or overcalls to three – what do you do with a 10-count in general?

Hamburger Helper, White Plains, N.Y.

The simple rule is that a direct raise shows 7-10 with three or possibly four trump. Going through the forcing no-trump suggests 6-10 and two trump, or 4-7 and three trump. The direct raise to three and the indirect raise via the forcing no-trump suggest unbalanced and balanced hands respectively in the range 10-12. With a 10-count and four trump upgrade the hand, with three trump only upgrade when you have a side source of tricks or a singleton.

Can you help me with the definitions of a weak jump and what you describe as a mixed raise. For example if you hold: ♠ 9-2,  A-7-4,  Q-9-7, ♣ 10-8-6-4-3 would you consider this to be a preemptive raise of clubs or would you think it was a mixed raise? And when do you use preemptive raises of your partner's opening bid?

Scrambled Eggs, Galveston, Texas

A simple rule is that a mixed raise of a minor asks partner to bid three no-trump with 18-19 balanced, so today's deal is on the cusp; I'd say it qualified as mixed. I use preemptive raises of opening bids in competition when non-vulnerable and mixed raises (6-9 HCP) when vulnerable.

I've recently been encountering some problems with using the blanket rule of 'third hand plays high'. Specifically when dummy has the jack or the queen in a three-card suit working out whether to put in the nine or 10 from a three-card suit headed by a top honor has been giving me fits. Could you give me some guidance here, please?

Saving Grace, Boise, Idaho

I'll try, but circumstances do alter cases. Typically when partner leads a low card and declarer plays low from a dummy that has jack- or queen-third and you have the queen or king accompanied by the nine or 10, the right play is the intermediate card. This looks VERY silly when partner has underled the ace-king against no-trump but how often does that happen? Against suits the same principle applies even more strongly – though it is not always right!

For those of us learning new bidding conventions, it would be helpful if someone had compiled a list showing how often a chance for the convention could be expected to occur. For instance it would be better to learn a convention which might occur once every 50 hands versus one which might occur once every 100 hands. Has anyone compiled such a list?

Rob Roy, Grand Forks, N.D.

The list of 25 conventions in Barbara Seagram's list is a good place to start. Even 25 conventions sounds like a lot for intermediate players. You can explore further here.


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 2012. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Saturday, September 15th, 2012

On the whole, I'd rather be in Philadelphia.

epitaph of W.C. Fields


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

*Texas transfer to spades

2

This deal was declared by John Crawford, a great American player of the early postwar years. I've substituted an auction that might occur today. After an opening call of two no-trump, it is common to play transfers at both the three- and four-level. The Texas transfer at the four-level is either to play or to be followed by Blackwood, while a transfer and raise is a mild slam-try.

Against four spades West led the heart two and Crawford took East’s heart king with the ace. Next he played the spade king, followed by the spade jack to the ace. Then came a heart to the nine and 10. West now shifted to clubs, declarer capturing East’s 10 with his ace.

Crawford next played the heart jack from his hand and discarded the club jack when West covered this with the queen. West did his best when he exited with a club, which was ruffed in dummy. Now the spade five to the queen allowed Crawford to eliminate the club suit by ruffing the club in dummy. Finally came a diamond to the 10, and when West won the diamond queen, he then had either to lead a diamond or concede a ruff-and-discard. Either way Crawford had his 10th trick.

It is hard to criticize West unduly, but a black-suit lead would have seen four spades fail since declarer does not have the timing right for the endplay on West.



Responding one no-trump suggests approximately these values and is a perfectly reasonable call. It is the action I would take unless facing a third-in-hand opening bid. But your hand looks very defensively oriented to me, so I would give partner a little latitude and take the more discreet route of passing and seeing what happens next.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ 6
 Q 10 6 2
 K Q 8 4
♣ 9 7 6 2
South West North East
Pass Pass 1♠ 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 2012. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, September 14th, 2012

This were the cost to me,
This were my winning —
That he were lost to me.

Richard Gilder


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

4

I would expect East to pass as dealer here, then double at his second turn to speak. If South could redouble to show a strong hand, there is something to be said for that action, after which East would retreat to two diamonds. Now 300 is available by doubling this, but at most forms of scoring, there is a lot to be said for aiming higher, since if you bid three no-trump and make it, the rewards are far higher.

At many tables East would unthinkingly win the first diamond and try to cash the suit from the top. That would make sense if South had a doubleton diamond, but how likely is that? Not very likely, I’d say.

East does best to duck the first or second diamond, stopping the easy route home via the club finesse. Declarer has a counter: He must run the hearts, forcing East to make two discards. The first one, a small spade, is easy; the second appears relatively innocuous as well, in that he must throw an apparently irrelevant small club. But then declarer has to reconstruct the hand. Since East appears to have started with four spades, two hearts and five diamonds, he either has the bare club king or he doesn’t. South must cash the club ace and exit with his remaining diamond. East is now endplayed; he can cash his diamonds but in the three-card ending he must lead into dummy’s spade tenace and concede the rest.



Reluctant as I am to lead my readers into bad habits, in third seat at any form of scoring or vulnerability I'd be most unwilling to pass here. With a good suit I know what I want partner to lead, so I feel obligated to open one diamond. It may not work out, but the negative inferences from my failing to act are almost as important as the positive ones. Partner will never play me for a good suit if I pass here.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ Q 10 8 4
 7 3
 A K 9 6 2
♣ 8 2
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 2012. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.