Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, June 12th, 2011

Dear Mr Wolff:

My mother said she might be interested in getting a computer to play bridge. I know there are game systems out there that may have a bridge application, but they are expensive and may be too complex. I think she may enjoy a computerized bridge game or even solitaire if I can find the right one for her.

— Dutiful Daughter, Pittsburgh, Pa.

ANSWER: Does your mother use a computer for e-mail or the internet? If so, she can play for free on bridgebase.com. She can sign up and play any time of the day or night — and should not be worried about not finding players at her level. However, for hand-held games, maybe Saitek’s bridge products would be suitable.

Dear Mr Wolff:

Holding SPADES 9-3, HEARTS A-Q-4, DIAMONDS A-J-9-3-2, CLUBS A-10-6, I assume you would open a strong no-trump, as I did. My partner (an expert) transferred into spades, then nearly made me fall off my chair by bidding five no-trump. What on earth did that call mean?

— Jumping Jack, Newark, N.J.

ANSWER: A transfer and jump to four no-trump invites slam, a transfer and bid of five no-trump generally offers a choice of slams. Normal actions are to bid spades or no-trump, but here, with a decent five-card suit, you can bid six diamonds to suggest an alternative contract. Even a 5-2 diamond fit might be best, and if you need to ruff out spades or take a ruff in partner’s hand, it could be the only making slam.

Dear Mr Wolff:

In a recent problem that you presented, you mentioned the difference between bidding a new suit in response to an overcall when the hand on your right has passed, and when that hand has raised his partner, or even doubled, or bid a new suit. Under what circumstances would a new suit by the partner of an overcaller be forcing?

— Hot Shot, Texarkana, Texas

ANSWER: New suits in response to a one-level overcall (when there is no further competition) can be played as forcing or invitational. I prefer to play them as encouraging but not forcing. But if that overcall is at the two-level, it is best to play a new suit as forcing. By contrast, if the third hand joins in, new suits should be played as natural and nonforcing, though one could hold up to an opening bid with a good five- or six-card suit.

  Dear Mr Wolff:

In a recent pairs game I had a difficult decision when partner, in first seat with both sides vulnerable, opened two spades. I held SPADES 10-7-3, HEARTS A-9-7-5-4, DIAMONDS J-3, CLUBS K-10-8. Normally I would raise to three with trump support and a weak hand, continuing the pre-empt and making it more difficult for the opponents to find a game. In this situation, however, it seemed unlikely that opponents had a game, even if they had 24 or more points. What do you recommend?

— Upping the Ante, Grand Forks, N.D.

ANSWER: Raising to three spades makes it far harder for your LHO to come into the auction — he can’t double (for fear of a heart response), and if he bids a suit, he has gone past three no-trump. I generally bid first and justify my action later on sequences like these.

Dear Mr Wolff:

How would you handle this collection of power and quality: SPADES K-J-8-2, HEARTS 9-3, DIAMONDS 7-3, CLUBS J-10-8-4-2, at matchpoint pairs with both sides vulnerable, when your partner opens one heart in first seat? Assuming you pass, your LHO balances with two diamonds, passed back to you. What now?

— Slim Pickings, Bremerton, Wash.

ANSWER: It feels clearly right to pass initially. Responding rates to get you too high, and with no quick tricks, game seems a long way off. If two diamonds came back to me, I would double for takeout, risking that we had a playable fit somewhere. That action is not gilt-edged, but you are somewhat protected by your first pass — partner won’t play you for much!

 


If you would like to contact Bobby Wolff, e-mail him at bobbywolff@mindspring.com. Reproduced with permission of United Feature Syndicate, Inc., Copyright 2011.

The Aces on Bridge: Saturday, June 11th, 2011

Vulnerable: Neither

Dealer: South

North

9 6 5 2

K Q 2

K 8 5

A 9 4

West

J 10 8 7

J 9 7

9 7 3 2

5 3

East

K

10 8 6 4 3

Q 6 4

J 10 7 2

South

A Q 4 3

A 5

A J 10

K Q 8 6

 

South West North East
2 NT Pass 6 NT All pass

Opening Lead: Diamond two

“Why! who makes much of a miracle?

As to me, I know of nothing else but miracles.”


– Walt Whitman

In a recent Norwegian Team Championship, Svein-Harald Riisnaes and his partner wisely opted to play slam in no-trump, not in their 4-4 spade fit.

When dummy came down, declarer had just 10 top tricks despite the combined 32 HCP and West’s helpful lead of a diamond to the queen and ace. Needing just three spade tricks, South elected to lay down the spade ace (planning to lead up to the queen on the next round of the suit). When the king dropped from East — yes, this would have been a great moment for a false-card from the doubleton king — declarer could see his way to 12 tricks if the missing clubs broke 3-3. Equally, if West held a finessable doubleton jack or 10 of clubs, the 12th trick could be developed.

Accordingly, Riisnaes took the club king and ace, but when no jack or 10 appeared, he had no option but to play off the third top club. West, who had to discard on the third club winner, threw a heart away, so Riisnaes took the three heart winners (pitching his club from hand) to squeeze a diamond out of West. Next came the diamond king, then the jack, and that reduced South, West and North each to three spades.

Declarer now led a low spade away from the queen toward dummy’s nine. West won with the 10, but was endplayed, so that the spade queen and spade nine scored the last two tricks, and the slam came home.


BID WITH THE ACES

South holds:

9 6 5 2
K Q 2
K 8 5
A 9 4

 

South West North East
1 1 Pass
?
ANSWER: It looks natural enough to try for game here, but a jump to two no-trump should be invitational facing even a minimum overcall, and you are considerably short of the necessary firepower to issue such an invitation. Bidding only one no-trump sounds like an underbid, but you should leave it up to partner to bid on with extra high-cards or shape 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 2011. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, June 10th, 2011

Vulnerable: East-West

Dealer: North

North

Q 4 2

9 6 3

A K 9 5 2

9 2

West

J 10 9

Q

Q 10 6 4

K Q 6 4 3

East

3

A K J 10 8 4 2

J 7

8 7 5

South

A K 8 7 6 5

7 5

8 3

A J 10

 

South West North East
Pass 3
3 Pass 4 All pass

Opening Lead: Heart queen

“We haven’t the time to take our time.”


– Eugene Ionesco

At the Dyspeptics Club time is money, and the regular players in the rubber bridge game often appear to consider it a sign of weakness to pause for thought. In today’s deal it was therefore remarkable that South was prepared to go the extra mile and think about his problem until he came up with a sensible answer.

East’s classic three-level pre-empt did not silence South, and North had more than enough to raise the three-spade overcall to game. West led his singleton heart queen, and the defense played three rounds of hearts. What do you think South’s best play in this situation might be now?

South saw that if spades were 2-2 and the clubs not unfavorable, he should ruff the heart high and could simply draw trump. But the fact that East had discarded an encouraging club made South concerned about that suit, and with the 7-1 heart break, an even trump split seemed unlikely.

After due consideration (during which time West had ostentatiously shaken his watch to make sure that it was still going), South decided to discard the club 10 on the third heart. He won the club return in hand and decided that diamonds were unlikely to ruff out, since West had at least nine minor-suit cards.

South elected to play out six rounds of trump instead, and on the last one, in the three-card ending, West had to concede, since he controlled both minors and could not retain a high club and three diamonds.


BID WITH THE ACES

South holds:

Q 4 2
9 6 3
A K 9 5 2
9 2

 

South West North East
1 Pass 1
Pass 2 Dbl. Pass
?
ANSWER: Your partner’s call shows the unbid suits, spades and diamonds (probably with some club length too) and a full opener. He would not back into a live auction unless he had a decent hand. In that context your hand has real prospects for game, so jump to four diamonds. You could hardly be better here, could you?

 


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 2011. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, June 9th, 2011

Vulnerable: Both

Dealer: East

North

K 8 6 5 4

J 9

8 6 3 2

Q 7

West

Q J 9

A Q 10 5

9 7 5 4

K 8

East

7

8 7 4 3 2

J 10

J 9 4 3 2

South

A 10 3 2

K 6

A K Q

A 10 6 5

 

South West North East
Pass
2 NT Pass 3 Pass
4 All pass

Opening Lead: Diamond four

“Justice is justly represented Blind, because she sees no Difference in the Parties concerned.”


– William Penn

Occasionally a deal crops up that causes even the best players to have a blind spot. This one caught out world champion Norberto Bocchi.

First cover up the East and West hands and consider declarer’s problem. South declares four spades, and West leads the diamond seven to the 10 and king. Declarer plays the king and ace of trumps, finding that West started with Q-J-9. How should he continue?

What happened at the table was that declarer played his other two top diamonds and then led a low club. However, this allowed West to win with the king, cash the spade queen, and play the diamond nine, forcing declarer to ruff in hand with his last trump. Declarer could now play a club to dummy’s queen, but couldn’t get back to hand to cash the club ace. When the heart ace was wrong, he had to go down.

Can you see where he went wrong? After the spade king and ace, he should have played a club immediately. This does not give up on any of his chances since, once trumps fail to break, he needs either the club king or heart ace to be right. Now West again wins the club king, cashes the spade queen, and plays a diamond, but this time declarer can win, play a club to the queen, a diamond back to his hand, and the club ace, discarding a heart from dummy. A club ruff followed by a diamond ruff sees him home.


BID WITH THE ACES

South holds:

K 8 6 5 4
J 9
8 6 3 2
Q 7

 

South West North East
1 Pass
1 Pass 2 Pass
?
ANSWER: It is primarily a matter of partnership agreement as to how to continue over reverses. A simple way is to play that responder’s rebid of his own suit is forcing for one round but not to game, while all direct three-level bids are game-forcing. Responder uses a bid of two no-trump as weak, without five cards in his initial suit. Using these methods, South can bid two spades happily enough.

 


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 2011. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Wednesday, June 8th, 2011

Vulnerable: East-West

Dealer: South

North

Q 3

Q 8

K Q 10 9 8 4

J 8 4

West

J 8 6 2

9 7 2

J 7 6 2

7 5

East

K 10 5

J 10 6 5

3

K 10 9 3 2

South

A 9 7 4

A K 4 3

A 5

A Q 6

 

South West North East
2 NT Pass 3 * Pass
3 NT Pass 4 ** Pass
4 Pass 5 Pass
6 All pass

*Transfer to three no-trump to show diamonds

**A diamond slam-try

Opening Lead: Spade two

“But evil is wrought by want of thought,

As well as want of heart.”


– Thomas Hood

If your bridge is confined to the rubber bridge table or events where dealing is done manually, you are perhaps used to being treated kindly as far as bad breaks are concerned. Human dealers tend to be lazy, and insufficient shuffling leads to more-balanced hands. All tournaments (and most clubs, too) these days use computer dealing, when the actual distribution should equate to the theoretical distribution, so you need to be more prepared for bad breaks.

Sometimes unfriendly distribution can easily be overcome: all you need do is keep your head and not panic.

At one table, South opened two no-trump and North-South’s methods were such that he ended up as declarer in the good six diamonds, West choosing a spade lead.

Superficially it looks as if South rates to lose a diamond and a trick in one of the black suits, but watch what happened. Declarer tried the spade queen from dummy and won East’s king with his ace. Not being psychic, he then played the diamond ace and king. When he discovered the bad news, he realized he needed to reduce dummy’s trumps twice.

He played three rounds of hearts, discarding a spade from the table, and ruffed a spade. He then played a club to his queen, cashed the club ace and ruffed another spade. This left dummy with the diamond queen and 10, and a losing club. Declarer now exited with a club, and had to make two diamond tricks at the end.


BID WITH THE ACES

South holds:

K 10 5
J 10 6 5
3
K 10 9 3 2

 

South West North East
2 2 Pass
?
ANSWER: You are obviously worth a raise of spades. Here, your singleton diamond rates to be useful, but your soft high-cards are not guaranteed to be pulling their full weight. This hand seems worth no more than a raise to three spades, rather than a cue-bid raise of three diamonds, which ought to be a somewhat better hand.

 


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 2011. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, June 7th, 2011

Vulnerable: Both

Dealer: South

North

K J

9 3

8 7 5 4

Q 10 9 4 2

West

10 3

J 8 7 5

A 10 9 2

K J 5

East

9 8 6 5 2

10 4 2

K 6 3

6 3

South

A Q 7 4

A K Q 6

Q J

A 8 7

 

South West North East
2 Pass 2 Pass
2 NT Pass 3 NT All pass

Opening Lead: Heart five

“This world, where much is to be done and little to be known.”


– Samuel Johnson

Defense is one of the hardest aspects of the game. But somehow, when the chances of defeating a contract seem remote, life is not so hard. If there is only one card for partner to hold that would enable you to defeat a contract, then you must play him for that card.

As West, you lead the heart five against South’s three no-trump. Partner plays the 10 and declarer wins with the king. He then plays the club ace and another club. How do you defend?

The first thing to do is to work out how many points your partner has. Here declarer has 22 – 24 and dummy six, so partner can have at most a queen or a king. Declarer must have the spade ace or queen (or both), so dummy has a certain entry, and as soon as you win your club king, declarer will have a total of four tricks in that suit. If you are going to beat three no-trump, you need to do so now.

The only helpful card that partner can possibly have is the diamond king, along with two other cards in the suit, leaving declarer with queen-jack doubleton. So you should win the club king and switch to the diamond two. The subtle point here is that you cannot afford to duck the club king, as you normally would in this type of situation, because it is quite likely that declarer will then have nine tricks to cash — as would happen today.


BID WITH THE ACES

South holds:

A Q 7 4
A K Q 6
Q J
A 8 7

 

South West North East
1
Dbl. Pass 1 Pass
?
ANSWER: The simple solution here is to jump to two no-trump. Since a bid of one no-trump in this sequence would show 18-20 points, a call of two no-trump shows approximately 21-22. I agree that it is possible that a 4-3 major-suit fit might play better, but since there is no scientific way to find out, settle for the value bid and let partner explore other strains if his hand warrants it.

 


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 2011. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, June 6th, 2011

Vulnerable: Neither

Dealer: North

North

A K 6 5

K J 3

K 6 4 3 2

A

West

10 2

10 9 7 6

Q 8 7

Q J 5 4

East

Q 9 8 7

A 8 2

10

K 10 9 8 6

South

J 4 3

Q 5 4

A J 9 5

7 3 2

 

South West North East
1 Pass
1 NT Pass 3 NT All pass

Opening Lead: Club four

“Wish me good speed,

For I am going into a wilderness

Where I shall find nor path nor friendly clue

To be my guide.”


– John Webster

One of the best tournaments in England is a double-elimination event, the Spring Foursomes. In the 2005 event David Price’s squad was undefeated in the double-elimination phase. At the end of their allotted boards in their next match, Price was down by 48 IMPs, but they exercised their option, as an undefeated team, to play a further eight deals. They garnered an incredible 52 IMPs to win the match and reach the final. The fairy tale ended there, however, since they lost in the finals.

In this deal from the tournament West led the club four against Price’s contract of three no-trump, suggesting that he had led from a four-card suit. Dummy’s ace won, but as the bidding had cried out for a major-suit lead, Price placed West with no five-card suit, relatively short holdings in both majors, and inferentially, three cards in diamonds. Therefore at trick two he led a low diamond to his ace. Seeing East’s 10 drop, he continued with the jack. When this held, the nine to dummy’s queen allowed the suit to be run.

There are eight tricks, but any attempt to try for a ninth in hearts would see East take his ace, and an avalanche of clubs would follow. As it was, though, East was squeezed on the last diamond. To protect the heart ace and spade queen, he had to let a club go. Now declarer could afford to play a heart, as all that the defense could then cash were three club tricks. Contract made.


LEAD WITH THE ACES

South holds:

J 7 6 2
A 9
10 2
Q 8 6 3 2

 

South West North East
1 Pass 1
Pass 2 Pass 4
All pass
ANSWER: When you have trump control, the lead of a doubleton has rather more to recommend it than usual. Here, while a spade lead might work (or even a club lead, to give partner a ruff), it is somewhat easier to envision diamond ruffs, so I would lead the diamond 10.

 


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 2011. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, June 6th, 2011

Vulnerable: Neither

Dealer: North

North

A K 6 5

K J 3

K 6 4 3 2

A

West

10 2

10 9 7 6

Q 8 7

Q J 5 4

East

Q 9 8 7

A 8 2

10

K 10 9 8 6

South

J 4 3

Q 5 4

A J 9 5

7 3 2

 

South West North East
1 1 NT
Pass 3 NT All pass South

Opening Lead: Club four

“Wish me good speed,

For I am going into a wilderness

Where I shall find nor path nor friendly clue

To be my guide.”


– John Webster

One of the best tournaments in England is a double-elimination event, the Spring Foursomes. In the 2005 event David Price’s squad was undefeated in the double-elimination phase. At the end of their allotted boards in their next match, Price was down by 48 IMPs, but they exercised their option, as an undefeated team, to play a further eight deals. They garnered an incredible 52 IMPs to win the match and reach the final. The fairy tale ended there, however, since they lost in the finals.

In this deal from the tournament West led the club four against Price’s contract of three no-trump, suggesting that he had led from a four-card suit. Dummy’s ace won, but as the bidding had cried out for a major-suit lead, Price placed West with no five-card suit, relatively short holdings in both majors, and inferentially, three cards in diamonds. Therefore at trick two he led a low diamond to his ace. Seeing East’s 10 drop, he continued with the jack. When this held, the nine to dummy’s queen allowed the suit to be run.

There are eight tricks, but any attempt to try for a ninth in hearts would see East take his ace, and an avalanche of clubs would follow. As it was, though, East was squeezed on the last diamond. To protect the heart ace and spade queen, he had to let a club go. Now declarer could afford to play a heart, as all that the defense could then cash were three club tricks. Contract made.


LEAD WITH THE ACES

South holds:

J 7 6 2
A 9
10 2
Q 8 6 3 2

 

South West North East
1 Pass 1
Pass 2 Pass 4
All pass
ANSWER: When you have trump control, the lead of a doubleton has rather more to recommend it than usual. Here, while a spade lead might work (or even a club lead, to give partner a ruff), it is somewhat easier to envision diamond ruffs, so I would lead the diamond 10.

 


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 2011. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, June 5th, 2011

Dear Mr Wolff:

My partner, holding SPADES Q-9-3, HEARTS 9-5-4, DIAMONDS Q-J-3, CLUBS 10-8-7-4, heard his LHO open a weak two in hearts. I doubled and he responded two no-trump, playing Lebensohl as a puppet to three clubs. I duly completed the transfer to three clubs with my 18-count, including five spades and four diamonds. Although three clubs made, we still scored poorly since we could have made nine or 10 tricks in spades. Should I have bid two spades instead of doubling?

— Puppet Theater, Duluth, Minn.

ANSWER: Your correct approach was to double. But then over your partner’s artificial call of two no-trump, it looks right not to bid three clubs, but to bid three spades, showing real extras and a spade suit of your own. Typically, the sequence shows five spades or a moderate six-carder, since a jump to three spades immediately would be a strong jump overcall.

Dear Mr Wolff:

In a recent column in the Houston Chronicle, you stated that in a bidding sequence where your LHO opens one diamond, your partner overcalls one heart, and you bid one no-trump, that response suggests 8-12 points. That sounds high to me, but is this because it is in response to an overcall, not to an opening bid?

— Straight Arrow, Houston, Texas

ANSWER: Exactly: the upper range for the no-trump response is higher because partner’s range for the overcall is approximately 8-16. When your partner hears you bid one no-trump, he will act again with extra values — either a source of tricks or real extra shape.

Dear Mr Wolff:

At one table in a group playing party bridge, West reached a contract of six no-trump. During the play, the lead was in the dummy, which held the ace, queen, and several other hearts. West reached for, and started to play the heart queen. East instinctively exclaimed “Oh, no, the king is still out!” West put the queen back in dummy, crossed to his hand, then successfully finessed against the heart king to make his contract. What, if any, should the penalty be?

— Talking Dummy, Mason City, Iowa

ANSWER: The punishment should be something with a little boiling oil added to it! Even in a friendly game, after that comment I’d enforce the play of the heart queen — and that means slam is down one — at least. A quiet but firm word with the offender might stop this from happening again.

  Dear Mr Wolff:

A bidding problem you ran featured SPADES J-10-8-4-3, HEARTS Q-5, DIAMONDS 10-8, CLUBS 6-4-3-2. You responded one spade to a double of one diamond and heard your partner now rebid one no-trump, showing 18-20. Can you comment on why it is better to bid two spades now, rather than rebidding two clubs or passing one no-trump?

— Monkey’s Paw, Albuquerque, N.M.

ANSWER: Even if your partner has as little as a doubleton spade honor, spades will surely play better than no-trump. Your hand may well be worth no more than half a trick to your partner in no-trump. You may set up the spades, but surely won’t be able to reach them. By contrast, the weak hand rates to be worth three spade tricks if red-suit cards are ruffed with the small spades.

Dear Mr Wolff:

My club has a lot of players who use Mirror Doubles. What are they? Are they a good idea?

— Looking Glass, Spartanburg, S.C.

ANSWER: Mirror doubles are a way to keep using transfers after intervention over your partner’s no-trump opening. All bids are transfers, and a double says “I would have made the call that my RHO just made.” Thus a double of two hearts shows a hand with spades — one that would have bid two hearts as a transfer, without intervention. You lose the ability to double for takeout, but right-side a small number of partscores. It’s not a good deal, in my opinion.

 


If you would like to contact Bobby Wolff, e-mail him at bobbywolff@mindspring.com. Reproduced with permission of United Feature Syndicate, Inc., Copyright 2011.

The Aces on Bridge: Saturday, June 4th, 2011

Vulnerable: North-South

Dealer: West

North

K 7 6

K 9 7 6

A Q

10 9 6 3

West

Q 4

J 10 8 3

J 7 5 2

K J 7

East

J 8 5

Q 5 4

K 9 8 6

Q 8 4

South

A 10 9 3 2

A 2

10 4 3

A 5 2

 

South West North East
Pass 1 Pass
1 Pass 2 Pass
4 All pass

Opening Lead: Heart jack

“So spake the Fiend, and with necessity,

The tyrant’s plea, excused his devilish deeds.”


– John Milton

Tim Seres, Australia’s greatest bridge player ever, was born in Austria in 1925 and migrated down under after World War II. Seres represented Australia in 24 world and zonal championships and won bronze medals in the most prestigious of the world championships, the Bermuda Bowls of 1971 and 1979. He died five years ago, but his brilliance as declarer means that he left behind a treasure trove of great plays.

Today’s deal is from the Australian Interstate Teams of 1975. Seres, seated South, brought home his four-spade contract via a variant of the Devil’s Coup.

Declarer won the heart lead in hand, then immediately finessed the diamond queen to see how many losers he might be facing overall. The queen lost to the king; there were two further club losers; and unless there was a favorable trump position, a loser in that department could also be expected.

East returned a club, which ran to West’s jack, and Seres captured the club king at the next trick. He cashed dummy’s red-suit winners, ruffed a heart in hand, then ruffed a diamond in dummy and the fourth heart in hand as East discarded a diamond. The scene was now set in the four-card ending as Seres exited with his club to East’s bare queen.

East was forced to return a trump, and the five went to the nine, queen and king. Seres now successfully finessed against East’s spade jack, and his trump loser had vanished without a trace!


BID WITH THE ACES

South holds:

K 7 6
K 9 7 6
A Q
10 9 6 3

 

South West North East
1 Pass
1 Pass 1 Pass
?
ANSWER: Although you have almost a full opening bid, you don’t really have quite enough to drive to game since your honors don’t seem to fit your partner well. And despite your four-card club fit, there seems to be no reason to play in clubs rather than no-trump. I would jump to two no-trump and invite game, rather than bid three 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 2011. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.