Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, February 12th, 2012

Say you hold ♠ 8-3-2,  K-J-5,  A-Q-9-7-3, ♣ J-7 and respond one diamond to your partner's one-club opening. When your partner rebids two clubs, would you pass, raise clubs, or show where your values lie by bidding two hearts?

Moving Story, Elkhart, Ind.

The danger with a two-heart call is that it is hard to know how to stay out of game after you make that bid. Your partner will assume you have a slightly better hand than you do (though the action is far from unreasonable). Since passing seems too pessimistic, I'd raise to three clubs and hope partner can explore for three no-trump with a nonminimum. On this action he'd show stoppers, not ask for them.

My partner and I play inverted minors. We have agreed that to raise clubs, responder needs five, but only four to raise diamonds. We handle diamonds this way because the odds of a three-card diamond opening seem to be quite low. Exactly what are the odds of opening with only three diamonds, and do you agree with our scheme of responses?

Fiddling in a Minor Key, San Francisco, Calif.

Yes, I agree with your approach. I believe there's a 95 percent likelihood that a one-diamond opening will show four or more cards. Additionally, since I have a natural and nonforcing response of two no-trump available, I can always make this call with a completely balanced hand with four-card support, trying to get to no-trump whenever each of us has a balanced hand.

At my duplicate club I'm never sure when to ask questions if at all. The two situations that concern me are when I know what my opponents are playing and my partner does not, and when I don't believe that the answer to the question will affect my call.

Grill-Master, Augusta, Ga.

You should always feel comfortable in asking questions when intending to bid, even if you think you know what is going on. Also, if your opponents' methods are unusual and you believe they should have been explained, you can clarify for your partner's benefit. (After all, you might be wrong about what the bids mean!) Don't ask till the auction is over if you do not intend to bid, whatever the explanation.

In a recent Aces column, your partner had opened one club and you responded one spade. The next hand overcalled three diamonds and your partner bid four diamonds. You now suggested that with ♠ Q-J-9-8-3,  K-3-2,  10-6, ♣ K-10-7, you should use Keycard Blackwood. How can you use Keycard if you don't know whether the trump suit should be spades or clubs?

Unsuitable, Miami, Fla.

Four diamonds was a control bid agreeing spades. So spades are trump and four no-trump is Keycard for spades. I don't think your partner could ever set clubs via this four-diamond cuebid (though you yourself could suggest clubs at the six-level).

What are the rules about dummy acting during the hand to prevent an infraction? Are the rules the same for leads from the wrong hand and for revokes? What if nobody spots the infraction at the table?

Rules for Dummies, North Bay, Ontario

Dummy can point out to declarer which hand he is in and whether he won or lost the last trick. And he can check whether his partner has revoked. But he can't ask the opponents if they revoked in midhand. However, when an infraction has occurred and been agreed on, dummy may call the director. And at the end of the deal he can also call the director to establish if an infraction has occurred.


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, February 11th, 2012

When the truth entails tremendous ruin,
To speak dishonorably is pardonable.

Sophocles


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

♣5

Today's deal shows how you can achieve remarkable results with smoke and mirrors.

Even if North had passed, you might still reach a delicate four -spade contract from the South seat. Looking at the East and West cards, you would assume the contract was doomed, but West gives you a respite when he leads a club at trick one. It does not appear at first glance that this will be quite enough of a helping hand.

If you win the trick cheaply and cross to a top heart in dummy, then take the spade finesse. West wins, and knowing you have the missing club and spade honors, he rates to shift to a diamond, doesn’t he? East can help his partner in the decision-making process if his side is playing suit preference in trumps. He would then follow with the spade two on the first round to emphasize diamonds over hearts.

But now see what happens if you take East’s club jack with the ace at trick one, then cross to dummy with a heart for the losing spade finesse. If West can resist underleading the club king for his partner to make the diamond switch, then he is certainly a better man than I. Of course, if the spade finesse succeeds, you still make 10 tricks by pitching a diamond on the hearts.

Incidentally, the same sort of play can arise when you have the A-K-J in the suit they lead. Winning East’s 10 with the king can create the same illusion.


With everyone bidding, your partner is probably the player who has stretched to act, but you cannot afford not to invite game here. Cue-bid three diamonds to show a high-card limit raise or better, but don't hang your partner any higher. If he signs off in three hearts, accept his word for it and let him play there.

BID WITH THE ACES

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

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, February 10th, 2012

But let us argue points in order,
And reason the whole case carefully.

Edgar Lee Masters


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

3

After this relatively long auction to six spades, West knew enough to lead the heart three. How would you plan the play?

When trumps are 3-2 and clubs no worse that 4-2, you can make the contract by winning the heart ace, cashing the club king, drawing trumps ending in hand, and ruffing a low club. You will make four trumps, the red aces, five clubs and a club ruff.

However, whereas trumps are a favorite to split, clubs rate to be 4-2 rather than 3-3, so you should try to protect against the expected as well as unexpected bad breaks. If one player has long spades, you hope it is East — but you still need to be careful.

After winning the heart ace and cashing the club king, you need to manipulate the trump suit. Suppose you carelessly play the spade ace followed by the six to your king. When you continue with a club ruff, you will be left with the bare spade 10 on the table. East will not cover when you lead it, and you will have no safe way to draw his last trump. One down!

The winning play after cashing the spade ace is to lead the spade 10 to the king. You ruff a low club with the nine and then play dummy’s trump six, finessing the eight in your hand. You can then draw the last trump with the queen and claim the contract.


If you are unwilling to pass, should you overcall, double, or bid one no-trump? The last option is unpalatable for more than one reason, and a two-level overcall in your weak diamond suit might have you banned from bridge. What's left is a canape one-spade overcall, or — my choice — a double. I'd be planning to convert a two-club response to two diamonds, pretending I have a little more than I do.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ A 10 9 6
 A 8 7
 A 8 6 3 2
♣ K
South West North East
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: Thursday, February 9th, 2012

We spend our midday sweat, our midnight oil;
We tire the night in thought, the day in toil.

Francis Quarles


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

♠K

Against four hearts, West leads the spade king. Good deceptive declarer play is to drop the spade eight on this trick, trying to persuade West that East's spade five is high, not low. But West was not born yesterday. He refuses to take the bait, instead switching to the diamond queen. Plan the play from here on.

The first key point to bear in mind is that since West passed as dealer and has already shown up with 10 points, East must have the club king. If you take an early club finesse, East will win his king and shift back to spades, setting up four winners for the defenders. How can you avoid the need for taking the club finesse?

The answer is rather subtle: duck the diamond queen, win the diamond continuation, and play the heart king and a heart to the jack. Cash the diamond ace (discarding a club) and club ace, and take the ruffing club finesse.

It would not have done West any good to cash the spade ace at trick three, since you would have the rest of the tricks without needing to work hard. But note that West might have worked out to shift to the diamond jack so as not to give the show away. It would not matter if East was confused about the location of the diamond honors since he does not need to know what is going on.


With a maximum in the 12-14 range and a heart stop, a contract rates to play just as well with you as declarer, I would bid one no-trump now. Conceivably three no-trump might be better from your partner's hand, but you cannot afford to pass up the opportunity to bid no-trump at your first turn, or you may not get another chance.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ 7 4 3
 Q J 8
 A 9 4
♣ A Q J 6
South West North East
1♣ Pass 1 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: Wednesday, February 8th, 2012

Reflection, you may come tomorrow,
Sit by the fireside with Sorrow.

Percy Bysshe Shelley


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

Q

Sometimes the problem in a bridge deal becomes evident at trick one; on other occasions the difficulties only become apparent later. Into which category does today's deal fall? You are South in six spades on the diamond queen lead, and I'll give you the hint that trumps do not break 4-0.

I hope you decided that the problem resides solely in hearts. If you can avoid losing two tricks in that suit, you should make your slam. With trumps to spare in both hands, you should be looking to strip the hand of the side-suits, eliminate the trumps, then force the defenders to help you out.

So win the lead in hand, draw trumps, then play a diamond to the ace and ruff a diamond. Now cash three rounds of clubs, ending in dummy, and exit with a heart, planning to cover East’s card. If East plays a low, you can put in the seven and claim the balance, but what if he plays the eight? You try the queen, but it loses to the king. Back comes a low heart — should you put the 10 up or play low from dummy?

The correct answer is to play low from dummy. East is more likely to the eight or nine than both cards. This is an example of the principle of Restricted Choice, where if East had the 9-8, he would have had a choice of cards to play at his first turn.


Tempting as it might be to bid three no-trump, your hand was not worth a drive to game at your first turn and has not become so when partner's response promises no more than 5-6 points. You can describe your hand precisely by raising to two no-trump. This shows a balanced 18-19 count and lets partner tell you what he has.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ A Q 9 5 3
 A Q 7
 K 5
♣ K 8 5
South West North East
1♠ Pass 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 2012. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, February 7th, 2012

Toil, brothers, toil, till the work is done,
Till the struggle is o’er, and the Charter won!

Thomas Cooper


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

7

If you can focus on the problem in today's deal, you are halfway to solving the problem. As South, declarer in three no-trump, you win the heart lead and can count eight tricks only.

To establish your ninth winner, you need to set up a diamond trick, but you cannot simply lead out three rounds of diamonds or East will win and play back a second heart, letting West run that suit. So you need to keep East off play for the duration of the deal.

Having established a plan, you cash the club ace at trick two, playing the club five from dummy, then lead the club jack to the king to advance the diamond nine.

East must cover or you will let the nine run. Now you win the diamond ace, on which West should let the diamond seven go, and play the club 10 back to the queen in dummy in order to lead the diamond eight from the board. East can cover by putting up the queen, but you can win the king. What is West to do? If he plays low, declarer exits with a diamond and West must win his jack. But if he unblocks the jack, then declarer’s six will unexpectedly be high.

In summary, if declarer is to make his contract, he needs the diamonds to be 3-3 and West to win the defense’s diamond trick. So East can have no more than two of the defense’s four top diamonds.


Since the jump to three diamonds is game-forcing, you cannot pass, much as you might like to. I think fewer problems will come from giving false-preference to three hearts than from raising diamonds. On this auction a doubleton heart is all your partner has a right to expect.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ 10 6 2
 9 5
 9 8 4 2
♣ K Q 9 5
South West North East
1 Pass
1 NT 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: Monday, February 6th, 2012

It's them as take advantage that get advantage i' this world.

George Eliot


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

♠2

Sitting South, plan the play in three no-trump. West leads the spade two and East plays the 10!

Having been favored by a friendly defense at trick one, don’t waste it. This hand is about combining your chances. You could play for nine tricks by simply taking the diamond finesse or the heart finesse, but whichever you do, you are consigning your fate to a play that is no better than a 50 percent shot. Clearly taking the diamond finesse by leading the king, then low to the jack, is the best finesse to take (since a 5-1 heart break may prevent you from taking five tricks even when the finesse works, while running the diamond jack may not give you enough tricks against 4-1 diamonds). But can you do better?

First, try safely for five diamond tricks by cashing the diamond king and ace. Your chances of dropping the queen missing five are quite robust — in fact that will happen about 30 percent of the time. But if the diamond queen doesn’t drop, you should run the heart 10, hoping the queen is right and you can make five hearts. Your combined chances come to about two chances in three — quite an improvement on the simple finesse.

Finally, let’s revisit the defense. East erred by playing the spade 10 at trick one. If West had led from jack-fourth of spades, declarer would have had the doubleton ace and would surely have played the queen from dummy.


To pass out your negative double, North rates either to be balanced without a four-card major or to have a club-diamond two-suiter. It might be right to lead a spade to try to cash winners before spade losers go on dummy's hearts, but that is a very long shot. It looks logical to choose between the minors, and my vote goes to clubs — which rates to do nothing for declarer he cannot do himself.

LEAD WITH THE ACES

♠ K J 2
 Q 10 8 5 2
 7 4
♣ K 8 4
South West North East
1♣ 3
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 2012. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, February 5th, 2012

Playing rubber bridge with an expert partner, I held ♠ 9-8-3-2,  A-7-4,  Q-9-7, ♣ A-Q-10. I responded one spade to one diamond, and when my partner jumped to three clubs, I gave preference to three diamonds. Now my partner bid three no-trump. What would you recommend next?

Great Expectations, Dover, Del.

Facing likely short spades in my partner's hand, I'd expect him to be 5-5 or 5-4 and 18-19 points. With no wasted values in spades, I have enough for a jump to five no-trump to get my partner to pick a slam — although, to be frank, I cannot immediately see when any slam but six diamonds should be in the picture.

I often have problems with 9-11 points and five hearts facing a one spade opening. As an unpassed hand I cannot bid two hearts, which would be forcing to game and overstate my values. But if I bid a forcing no-trump and my partner responds in a possible three-carder, how can I safely introduce hearts or show my values?

Tight Fit, Selma, Ala.

A solution exists over opener's two-club rebid but it requires some artificiality. Use responder's rebid of two diamonds to show various hands including those with values and five hearts, while his rebid of two hearts should show six. This was invented by Les Bart; details, including more complex versions that allow you to unwind the problems caused by the forcing no-trump, can be found here.

You hold ♠ Q-10  K-J-9,  A-Q-7-4,  A-Q-9-3, and open one club. When your partner responds one spade, I assume you would jump to two no-trump, and now your partner bids four hearts. What should you expect your partner to hold?

Space Cadet, Twin Falls, Idaho

This is a tricky one. With spades and hearts and slam interest you know partner would bid three hearts first, then make a slam-try if he found a fit. But is your partner making a self-agreeing splinter (I think not, without prior discussion), or showing a weak hand with both majors and asking you to pass or correct? That would be my best guess, but I do see the specter of disaster hovering over my shoulder as I extract the pass card from the box!

With both sides not vulnerable, the bidding started with one diamond in first seat by my RHO. Holding ♠ 3-2,  A-K-9-7-6-5-4-2,  A-J, ♣ 7, I bid four hearts. After five diamonds by my LHO, my partner bid five spades! With no real clue as to what was going on, I passed eventually, and we made six. (Partner had seven solid spades and three small doubletons.) Should I have bid on? Was five spades forcing?

Hot Spot, Marion, Iowa

I think some might play the five-spade bid as lead-directing with a heart fit, helping to plan the defense. But overall the natural interpretation seems better to me. While I would be reluctant to bid six spades, I might have risked a call of five no-trump. This covers all bases if in fact what your partner had was a concealed heart fit and a request for a spade lead.

Recently you ran an interesting play problem that featured declarer in five spades doubled, after he had responded one spade at his first turn after his partner had opened one diamond, doubled on his right. His hand was ♠ A-Q-9-7,  9-6-5,  2, ♣ 10-9-8-5-4. My question is whether South's bid of one spade should show at least five cards or whether it is best simply to ignore the double.

Double Trouble, Duke City, New Mexico

After a minor is doubled, any five-card major is good enough to bid, and any major of four cards where you are happy to be raised on three to an honor. A hand on the cusp would be declarer's hand, where he had four spades to the ace in a balanced hand and an eight count. He might opt for one no-trump.


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, February 4th, 2012

Man … plays such fantastic tricks before high heaven
As make the angels weep.

William Shakespeare


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

2

In today's deal, Hall of Famer Tommy Sanders declared an optimistic contract of four hearts, after West had overcalled in spades and his partner had cue-bid to show a strong raise.

After an opening diamond lead, the obvious thing to do was to win the ace and ruff a diamond. But then there would be no quick entry to the South hand for the second diamond ruff, and the contract would fail even if South made a winning guess in clubs.

Sanders instead played low from dummy at trick one and ducked East’s diamond king. This neither gained nor lost a trick, but it created an illusion. West was now convinced that his partner held the diamond ace. East predictably shifted to a trump, and South won with the ace and ruffed a diamond. When he led a spade from the dummy, East could have saved his partner by putting up the king. When he played low and West won with the nine, West confidently led a diamond, and was discomfited to find that South could take two diamond tricks. Sanders then made the winning guess in clubs, since East was almost sure to have the club ace for his two-heart cue-bid.

Of course, West had assumed that if East had the diamond ace, South was bound to have the club ace and would be able to run the clubs if West continued passively with spades. However, if that were the position, South would have played on clubs not spades after ruffing the diamond.


The best action here depends on vulnerability and style. If I am vulnerable, wild horses could not drag an opening out of me; but at favorable vulnerability if my partnership style was to pre-empt aggressively, I might pre-empt to three clubs. Passing is not wrong — it all depends on whether nonvulnerable pre-empts are designed more to obstruct the opponents than start a constructive dialogue.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ J 6 5 4
 7 6
 8
♣ K J 8 6 5 3
South West North East
?      

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, February 3rd, 2012

Veil, if ill, thy soul's intent:
Let me think it innocent!

Maria Gowen Brooks


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

*Game-forcing

7

Today's deal was reported by Ron Klinger of Australia, the innocent party defending from the West seat and a serious candidate for the best-played hand of the year. To test yourself (and see whether you too could be a world-beater!), cover up the East and West cards.

Where would you like to play the hand? The spade slam looks entirely playable since it has excellent chances if either of the major-suit finesses works. Is there anything that can be done if the kings do not cooperate? Let’s see!

Yoshiyuki Nakamura and Masayuki Nakamura were South and North respectively.

Nakamura reached slam, won the diamond lead in hand, passed the spade jack successfully, unblocked both top club honors, played a spade to the queen, and found that the 4-1 fit meant he had a virtually sure loser in that suit.

Rather than relying on the heart finesse, Nakamura postponed the decision. He ruffed a club, then took the diamond ace, spade ace, and club jack, and led the diamond queen. In the four-card ending, West was down to the spade king and the heart K-10-5. If he ruffed, he would have been endplayed to lead a heart into declarer’s tenace, so he discarded a heart, and South now ruffed his last diamond in hand. This time West had no choice but to overruff, or the heart ace would have been declarer’s 12th trick, but he finally had to concede the last two tricks to declarer’s A-Q of hearts.


Your partner's negative double suggests precisely four spades. With no heart stopper and no comfortable rebid (a call of two clubs strongly tends to suggest 5-4 in the minors), best is to bid one spade. Your partner should know that bidding a three-carder here is a live possibility. After all, a jump to two spades would suggest no more than 12-14, but a shapely hand with four spades.

BID WITH THE ACES

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