Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Saturday, May 19th, 2012

I wander in the ways of men,
Alike unknowing and unknown.

Robert Burns


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

3

Today's deal was provided to me by Alan Sontag. It came up in a practice match in New York, organized by Mark Gordon before the Seattle Nationals in November. Mark was the hero in a delicate contract of four hearts. Against this contract in the other room West led a club, and declarer had made the normal play of tackling trumps by leading the suit from the top, going down one.

In the other room David Berkowitz had quite reasonably elected to lead a diamond rather than a club, which does not appear to make any significant difference, but Gordon was quick to seize on his extra chance. He took the diamond king at the first trick, cashed the heart ace and king, then played the diamond ace, ruffed a diamond, crossed to the club ace, and led the fourth diamond, discarding his club loser.

West was forced to win the trick and exit with a club, letting Gordon ruff and play for his only remaining chance of finding West with an embarrassing spade holding. When he exited from hand with a low spade, West won the trick, but whatever he returned allowed declarer to avoid a spade loser and concede just one more trick to the master trump.

The defenders are helpless in the ending, since once trumps break badly, declarer’s only legitimate chance against excellent defense is to play a low spade as he did, and find West with both spade honors or honor-10 doubleton.


Do you invite game or drive to game? And do you use Stayman or treat the hand as balanced and focus on no-trump? The answer to the first question is that your lack of intermediates makes this hand worth no more than an invitation, and you should look for spades rather than ignoring your major. If you find a fit and your partner has weakness or shortage in any side-suit, you will be glad you did.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ J 9 7 2
 8 5 2
 A 8 6 2
♣ A 2
South West North East
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: Friday, May 18th, 2012

The good effect of fortune may be short-lived. To build on it is to build on sand.

Marquis de Racan


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

♠A

When his partner opened with a weak two-spade bid, North could visualize a grand slam if South held the ace and king of trump. His leap to five no-trump passed exactly this message: "Please bid the grand slam if you hold two of the three top honors." Note that it would not have solved North's problem had he used Roman Key-card Blackwood instead, since the heart ace would have been worthless.

Since South held only one of the three top trump honors, the bidding stopped in a small slam. How would you play this when West leads ace and another trump?

There are 11 tricks on top, including one heart ruff. Which minor suit should you play first?

Declarer decided to play two top clubs, intending to ruff the suit good if a 4-2 break came to light. When West showed out on the second round of clubs, declarer took a diamond ruff, hoping for a 3-3 break in that suit. No luck came his way and he had to go one down.

Curiously, it is better to play on diamonds first. If that suit breaks 5-1, you still have the one (ruffing) entry that you need to take advantage of a 4-2 break in clubs. Diamonds break 4-2, in fact, so you can easily establish a long card in that suit.

The general principle is to play first on the suit that may need more entries to establish and reach the long cards.


There is no need to panic and pass; your partner has shown a very good hand with 5-6 pattern, and longer diamonds than spades. You have very little to offer him, but you know diamonds rate to play better than spades because of the extra trump. So just bid three diamonds now, and let your partner decide where to go from there.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ 8 6
 10 8 7 2
 Q 8
♣ J 10 9 6 4
South West North East
1 Dbl.
Pass 1 1♠ Pass
2 Pass 2♠ 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, May 17th, 2012

The smiler with the knife under the cloak.

Geoffrey Chaucer


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

K

Today's deal reminds me of an expression my grandmother used to use: "He was so sharp, he cut himself."

The exact auction was different at the various tables, but East frequently opened three diamonds and South overcalled four spades. West leads the heart king and switches to the diamond eight. Plan the play.

You are not sure whether East has six diamonds or seven for his opening pre-empt at favorable vulnerability, so it looks dangerous to duck the diamond. The problem is that if you win and play a spade to the queen and another spade, West may win his ace and play a second diamond. Now a third round of diamonds may promote a trick for his presumed spade 10.

One declarer, alert to this danger, found a neat solution. At trick three he crossed to dummy’s club ace and played the heart queen, discarding his second diamond from hand. This play was designed to cut the communications between his opponents’ hands so they could no longer get the trump promotion.

Or could they? While declarer had neatly protected himself against an imaginary danger, he had created a new and fatal problem. The real layout was as shown in the diagram.

When West won the heart ace he continued with a second round of clubs. He then won the first round of trump with the ace and gave his partner a club ruff. One down!

Note that almost any other “normal” line of play would have succeeded.


I like to play that the one-spade rebid shows at least four clubs. (With only three clubs and 4-3-3-3 pattern I rebid one no-trump over one heart.) Accordingly, I can raise to two clubs with a clear conscience; with the spade king instead of the queen I might well have bid three clubs instead, but this hand looks just short of invitational values.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ Q 5
 Q 10 7 3
 J 10 5
♣ A 10 9 7
South West North East
1♣ Pass
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: Wednesday, May 16th, 2012

Gold undiscovered (and all the better for being so).

Horace


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

*16-plus, any shape

♠5

In this deal from the Blue Ribbon semifinals, David Berkowitz found himself in a very ambitious three-no-trump contract. His Precision one-club opening bid was overcalled with a natural spade, which kept his side out of the spade contract that they were surely destined to find without intervention. Larry Cohen doubled to show 5-8 high-card points, then optimistically raised the one-no-trump rebid to game.

Even when you look at all four hands, it’s hard to see a way to more than seven tricks. West led a fourth-best spade, which Berkowitz won in dummy with the six. The club 10 was ducked around to the ace, setting up Berkowitz’s seventh trick. West persisted with spades, which Berkowitz won in dummy with the 10 to take a losing heart finesse. West got out with the heart jack, and now Berkowitz saw that he might be able to set up a heart for his eighth trick. And where there are eight…

He won the heart ace, played off the club king (to remove West’s exit card), cashed all the spades ending in dummy, and exited with a heart. West could take his good spade, but then had to lead a diamond away from his king. With the diamond queen scoring in hand, and the heart nine a winner in dummy, Berkowitz had his nine tricks — four spades, one club and two tricks in each red suit for plus 400 — almost all of the matchpoints.


It used to be that overcalls were limited in high cards to an opening bid and should promise a good suit. Those days are gone; bidding anything else but one spade with this hand would be a severe distortion. At the one-level, overcall with either a good suit or a good hand whenever you can.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ J 9 8 5 4
 K J 10
 K 9 2
♣ A 5
South West North East
Pass 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, May 15th, 2012

Opinions cannot survive if one has no chance to fight for them.

Thomas Mann


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

A

After the teams medals were settled at the 1st World Mind Sports Games in 2008, there were further events to occupy the Juniors — a Pairs Championship and an Individual. This hand is from the Pairs, and not many pairs reached slam.

More often than not, if there is a choice of fit, contracts — especially high-level ones — play better when trumps split evenly. This hand is an exception: Six spades, a 5-4 fit, is the place to rest, not six hearts — the 4-4 fit.

After Radu Nistor and Bogdan Vulcan of Romania had landed neatly in their best contract, West led the diamond ace — nothing else is better. Nistor ruffed in hand, then played a low spade to the queen, whereupon the 4-0 break came to light.

With no possibility of 13 tricks, declarer needed to secure 12. There would be no problem if hearts broke 3-2, but, if possible, he had to guard against a 4-1 or 5-0 break. There were two straightforward chances — clubs might be breaking 3-3, or the hand with four or more hearts also held four or five clubs.

So, Nistor’s next step was to duck a club. Back came a diamond, which Nistor ruffed with the jack; then he drew the rest of the trumps by cashing the king, finessing the nine, and cashing the ace.

At this point he played dummy’s last spade, which squeezed East out of his heart or club guard, and so the slam came home.


The two-heart call is forcing for one round since your cue-bid set up a force until a suit is agreed uppn. Over this bid it looks sensible to invite game by raising to three hearts; this is natural and invitational. If your partner passes, you surely won't have missed game.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ A Q 9 8
 Q 9 7 2
 8 2
♣ K 5 4
South West North East
1 Dbl. Pass
2 Pass 2 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, May 14th, 2012

Then, worn with toil, and tired of life,
In vain her shining traps are set.

Rose Cooke


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

*Good cards

K

I try to make the deals on Mondays slightly easier than the later deals within the week. But beware! Today's deal contains an unfriendly trap.

South declares four spades, West leads the diamond king and ace, and declarer ruffs. Declarer can almost always make the contract, as long as the trumps are no worse than 4-1. But he must begin by cashing the ace and king of trump! When the 4-1 spade break appears, he plays on clubs. West ducks the first club to try to disrupt declarer’s communications, then wins the second and plays another diamond.

Declarer ruffs and is now reduced to one trump in each hand, while West has two trumps left. Declarer now simply plays on hearts. (This line succeeds no matter which shape West started with — either two or three clubs.) The idea is that when West ruffs in and returns a diamond, as he must, declarer discards a club from table, ruffs in hand, and then uses his remaining clubs as substitute trumps. He runs the clubs, overruffing West whenever he ruffs in, and has the rest.

If it turned out that East had the four trumps, either declarer would be able to cash all of the side winners, or East would find himself in a situation like the one shown here.

Playing the trumps reflexively by cashing the spade ace, then the queen, sees declarer fail in this layout. West scores a second trump trick one way or another.


It looks very easy to lead a spade. I'm not convinced it is right, although it would certainly keep my partner happy! Right or wrong, I'd lead a low diamond (not the 10, because it runs the risk of blocking the suit) and be ready to apologize to my partner if necessary. The fact that I have a side-entry makes a big difference here.

LEAD WITH THE ACES

♠ 10 4
 A 10 8 2
 Q 10 9 5 3
♣ 7 2
South West North East
1♣ 1♠ 3 NT
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, May 13th, 2012

I know I'm supposed to lead top of a sequence, and as third hand I'm supposed to play the lowest of a touching sequence when trying to win the trick. Is there a rule as to what card I should play from a sequence when declarer leads a suit — or, as declarer, whether I should win the trick with the lower or higher card from a sequence to make my opponents' life harder?

Mercy Me, Pottsville, Pa.

As declarer, win the trick with the higher card from a sequence. (In fact, as declarer, always follow with the higher card from equals, except at trick one in no-trump, when you should win the king from ace-king). This is the most deceptive strategy. As a defender, follow with the lower card from a sequence when in second seat.

Playing pairs, I was in second chair with no one vulnerable, holding ♠ Q-J-7-3-2,  K-4,  9-8-5-2, ♣ K-10 while my partner had ♠ A-10-9-6,  5-3,  A-J-10-7, ♣ A-5-4. I passed at my first turn, of course, and my LHO's three-club opening bid was passed out. The contract went down a trick, but we still scored very poorly. Should either of us have acted over the pre-empt?

Calamity Jake, Sioux Falls, S.D.

Fourth hand has a balanced minimum opening — one that could not comfortably bid over ONE club. Just because your opponents pre-empted is no reason to go mad. Can a passed hand balance with three spades here with your cards? I say maybe; change your cards to include a singleton club and you might have an easier action. I suspect the three-club call was off-center — and you were just fixed.

Are there some general guidelines as to when a redouble should be SOS as opposed to business?

Redouble Trouble, Aurora, Colo.

The simple answer is that anytime the double is penalty, a redouble from either hand should be rescue. The utility factor of redoubling a making contract is that you stand to gain very little, so the redouble should mean something else. In other words, we've made a mistake — not they've made a mistake. In all other cases, a redouble should show extra values if the double was not penalty.

Holding ♠ K-Q-2,  —,  A-K-J-10-9-8-5, ♣ K-Q-2, I bid one diamond, and my partner responded one heart. I guessed to bid three diamonds, knowing it was something of an underbid, but my partner passed, holding two small diamonds with the spade ace and heart ace-queen, and four small clubs. Five diamonds was cold, and six was makable if I finessed for the diamond queen. I thought he should have gambled out three no-trump, but how should the bidding have gone?

The Grinch, Monterey, Calif.

Slam is indeed good but far from laydown. On your actual auction you made a small underbid — but a reasonable one — with three diamonds, while your partner has a crystal-clear call of three no-trump. He won't always make it, but with 10 points and a balanced hand, he has no choice but to try for game.

Recently I was in second seat when my RHO bid two of a suit, which was strong and forcing, I passed, and so did my LHO! At this point, dealer claimed that his call was a demand bid and his partner HAD to respond. One player said that third hand's call was legitimate, and after fourth hand had passed, that closed the bidding. How should this issue have been handled?

Connect the Dots, Bellingham, Wash.

The rules are relatively clear here. A player does not get to alter his bid if he changes his mind or his partner tries to change his mind for him (or her). So when third hand passes two hearts — deliberately or not — that's it. Just because a call is forcing does not mean that a player has to bid — or that a law is broken if he doesn't. His partner's heart may be broken, but that is another matter.


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, May 12th, 2012

A little inaccuracy sometimes saves tons of explanation.

Saki


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

♣K

North-South would probably not want to get to six hearts, but several tables at the Cavendish teams in 2011 were unable to resist the temptation.

On the auction shown, South was fairly confident that he was going to buy a singleton club opposite, and right he was. Michael Seamon led a top club and continued the suit to tap the dummy. Declarer, faced with the choice of what he deemed to be an unlikely squeeze or a trump break, played off the top diamonds, then ruffed a diamond, went to the heart jack, and ruffed another diamond. The 3-1 heart split doomed him to down one.

The same fate beckoned John Kranyak and Gavin Wolpert; they also reached slam, and the defenders also led and continued clubs, but this line of defense persuaded Kranyak that hearts would not split.

Accordingly, he decided to follow a different approach. He ruffed the club, crossed to a heart, ruffed another club, came to the spade ace, and ran the hearts. His luck was in — the spade-diamond squeeze materialized when West had sole control of those two suits, and 12 tricks were duly recorded.

Nicely defended by an unlucky expert? Yes and no! In fact, after the top club lead, the defense must shift to a red-suit (either will do). Declarer can only bring in the diamonds by drawing three rounds of trump without taking a club ruff. Four diamonds, six hearts and the spade ace make only 11 tricks.


At any vulnerability, open this hand one diamond, not two. You are playable in both majors, so you don't want to lose a fit there, and your partner will never expect you to hold such a good hand if you pre-empt. When deciding what level to open, add two points for a six-carder and one for any additional four-carder to your hand's HCP. If the number exceeds 13, open unless you have no aces.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ Q 9 8
 J 10 2
 A K 10 7 5 2
♣ J
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, May 11th, 2012

What I say is, patience, and shuffle the cards.

Miguel de Cervantes


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

*Hearts and a minor

♠K

On today's deal from the Cavendish pairs North-South bid aggressively to reach a game in the face of their opponent's strong no-trump. Personally, as North I'd feel I needed a little more to invite game with a singleton in partner's likely second suit and only three small trumps, but it is hard to argue with results!

As a result of Michel Bessis’ aggression, Thomas Bessis played in four hearts, and John Mohan led the spade king — as would we all. When he continued with a second spade, he had given declarer all the help he needed. (In the identical position Darren Wolpert shifted to a club to doom the contract.)

On the spade continuation Bessis ruffed and advanced the diamond king. East, Huub Bertens, won and shifted to a low trump. Bessis won and passed the diamond 10 successfully, then ruffed a diamond, ruffed a spade, and cashed his remaining top trump, leaving East with a master trump, a losing diamond, and his clubs.

When declarer ran diamonds, East could ruff the fifth and be endplayed to lead a club into dummy’s tenace, or discard and be endplayed a trick later with his trump for the same club endplay.

A few pairs were lucky enough to be playing transfers over their opponents’ weak no-trump. That let North declare four hearts, and on a club lead into the tenace, the deal was all over. Still, only four pairs bid and made game here of the 25 tables in play.


This may sound like sacrilege to my readers, who have been brought up to believe that takeout doubles must be short in the suit doubled, but I would recommend doubling on balanced decent openings even with three cards in the opponent's suit. It is simply too dangerous to pass. The best holdings in their suit are the ace or nothing at all. Soft defensive cards like the queen may mislead partner about your offense.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ A 8 6
 Q J 2
 A 5 4 3
♣ K 8 5
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, May 10th, 2012

As with the Stream our voyage we pursue,
The gross materials of this world present
A marvelous study of wild accident.

William Wordsworth


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

*18-plus HCP and three-card spade support

**Four spades, 11-plus HCP

♠10

Today's deal shows that even experts (and especially those playing complex systems) can have expensive accidents. In this deal from the 2011 Cavendish pairs championships, North and South disagreed about whether the four-diamond call followed by five no-trump — to pick a slam — suggested four diamonds or five. Put me in the camp that says four, though perhaps North could have bid five no-trump over three no-trump to avoid that problem.

In six diamonds declarer Alex Smirnov misguessed the trump suit, naturally enough, and that was a double disaster since the field had generally been restrained enough not to reach slam. (Some players had quite sensibly opened the South hand a 15-17 no-trump to stay low.)

Zia Mahmood was not one of the cautious Souths. He and Bob Hamman bid to six no-trump. Zia won the low-heart lead (best for the defenders, else a squeeze develops) and knocked out the club ace, East winning to return a low heart. Now the timing for the double-squeeze had gone, but Zia simply cashed off the spades from hand, led the diamond 10 to the diamond queen, then took the spade ace and club queen. At this point he decided that the opponents had been telling the truth in hearts, so the suit was 4-4. Since West was known to hold precisely three spades and two clubs, he had four diamonds. So Zia crossed to the diamond king and finessed in diamonds for 12 tricks. Five pairs made the no-trump slam; two went down.


I think the choice between one spade and one no-trump is closer than it might appear. With bad spades, only a 4-4 pattern, and a good stop in the unbid suit (clubs), I think one no-trump is the more descriptive call. You can always find spades if partner has enough values to invite game by using new minor or checkback Stayman.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ A 5 4 2
 10 3
 A Q 9 3
♣ K J 3
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.