Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Wednesday, November 20th, 2013

Man is a slow, sloppy, and brilliant thinker; computers are fast, accurate, and stupid.

John Pfeiffer


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

*Spades and a minor

**Natural, value-showing

♠10

As Dutch expert Onno Eskes wrote, when discussing the bridge ability of computers, they prefer clear problems; so slams are easier for them than partscores. Have a look at our computer, GIB, tackling six no-trump.

You win the spade lead in dummy, play the diamond king to find the surprising news, then lead the club king, ducked all around, and now carefully cash both top hearts to remove West’s exit card. Next you play a second club, won by West, who exits in spades.

You have 12 tricks now, but watch what happens when you run the clubs; on the last one you have to pitch a diamond off dummy, but which one? It cannot be the diamond seven, because after finessing the 10, you’d be stuck in dummy. The 10 does not work either, because West will cover the nine, and his eight will score the setting trick.

So let’s go back to the situation after trick seven. West has just scored the club ace and returns a spade. GIB plays dummy’s king and overtakes with the ace! He then runs the clubs, and the last one squeezes West, who is down to four diamonds and the spade queen.

West clearly cannot spare a diamond, lest the leader pitches dummy’s losing spade and leads the diamond nine, making four diamond tricks. So he throws his master spade, and now the diamond seven is pitched from dummy, the diamond finesse is taken, and declarer comes back to hand with his spade six for a second diamond finesse.


Your partner's auction suggests extras, with club and heart length. (If he was balanced and minimum with four hearts, he would not have competed over two diamonds.) You needn't panic and pass two hearts just because you have no clear way forward. Revert to three clubs and let your partner move on if he wants to. Three diamonds would be the best forward-going move, if you decide to cooperate.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ A 6 3
 J 5 4
 9 4 2
♣ Q J 10 9
South West North East
1♣ 1
2♣ 2 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 2013. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, November 19th, 2013

Distrust and caution are the parents of security.

Benjamin Franklin


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

3

Today's problem comes from "A Great Deal of Bridge Problems" by Julian Pottage, who is one of the more creative bridge writers around. His collections, written clearly and incisively, are aimed at players who are already experienced enough to compete in duplicate tournaments.

You find yourself in seven clubs, on a heart lead. What is the best play to the first three tricks? Clearly you must win the heart ace at trick one, and you appear to have 13 winners — so you need to plan for what can possibly go wrong.

If trumps break, everything is easy, so you need to cater to East’s holding all four clubs. Obviously, if West has all four trumps you are doomed to disaster, whatever you do.

If you cash the club king at trick two, you will find yourself short of entries to dummy to draw trump and run the diamonds. The trick is to unblock the diamonds before touching trump, so after taking the heart ace, you must cash the diamond ace. Now you play the club king (West discarding) and once the bad trump break has come to light, you simply run winning diamonds through East. As soon as he ruffs, you overruff, draw trump ending in dummy, and cash your long diamond.

You finish up taking three discards on the diamonds when the suit breaks 4-3, since East ruffs one of your winners. But three discards are all you need.


There is no perfect answer here. A call of two no-trump would show your values but risk getting too high or wrong-siding no-trump. The only option is to invent a club suit by bidding two clubs. If the auction stops here, you may have fallen on your feet. If partner reverts to diamonds, you might risk a two-heart call. And finally, if partner repeats hearts, you can raise him.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ J 7 4
 A Q
 K Q J 7 3
♣ K Q 2
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 2013. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, November 18th, 2013

I could have stemmed misfortune's tide,
And borne the rich one’s sneer,
Have braved the haughty glance of pride
Nor shed a single tear.

Anna Peyre Dinnies


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

K

In today's deal, after North's strong jump-shift and subsequent raise of spades, South is justified in trying for slam by cuebidding five clubs because of his good trumps and fitting diamond honor,. When North then cue-bids five hearts, it is a reasonable gamble for South to jump to slam because of his good trump intermediates.

When West leads the heart king against the slam, South must win the opening lead, of course. The heart lead threatens the contract, as declarer cannot afford to attack trumps immediately. So how does South get his heart loser away?

It is illogical for declarer to lead clubs before diamonds. It is far simpler to try to discard one heart from declarer’s hand rather than trying for two heart discards from dummy.

All declarer needs is to find the diamonds breaking 4-3, but today is not his lucky day. When South tries to discard a heart on dummy’s diamonds, East inconveniently ruffs the third round. Declarer should now re-enter dummy with a club to lead the fourth round of diamonds, hoping that East has no more spades (or only the ace remaining).

When East foils this plot again by ruffing the fourth diamond as well, South must overruff and fall back on his own club suit to discard hearts from the dummy. West ruffs the fourth club, but, fortunately for declarer, he must ruff with the trump ace while the last heart is discarded from dummy.


When you have nothing but a choice of dangerous leads, you might as well lead from length. At least this way you know that you have a more than 50 percent chance to be setting up long cards for your side. For what it is worth, my second choice would be a low heart.

LEAD WITH THE ACES

♠ A J 4 2
 Q 4 2
 K 9 4
♣ Q 6 2
South West North East
1
Pass 1 Pass 1 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 2013. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, November 17th, 2013

I have a problem with the concept of a reverse in competition. I held ♠ Q-10-9-2,  A-3,  A-5, ♣ Q-J-6-4-2. I opened one club, intending to rebid one spade over my partner’s response in a red suit. Alas, over my partner’s response of one heart, my RHO overcalled two diamonds. What was I supposed to do now?

Stuck in Park, Honolulu, Hawaii

Since you cannot rebid two spades without significant extras, while a call of three clubs would show at least a six-carder, and you cannot raise hearts, the best action is to pass. You hope that your partner can act – perhaps with a takeout double so that you can get to bid your spades. If he passes, you didn’t really miss anything.

Somebody sprang the term "minisplinter" on me recently. It sounded interesting –but would you please explain it? Is it worth the effort of learning a new convention?

Too Cool for School, Detroit, Michigan

Two conventions go by this name; I'll give you the one I think comes up more often and is more useful. Responder's first call of one over the limit-raise of a major (three spades or three no-trump over one heart and spade respectively) shows 9-12 with an unspecified singleton and four-card support for partner. Opener can ask for the shortness or can sign off. Thus other double jumps are splinters with 13-15 HCP, three no-trump over one heart showing a good hand with spade shortage. This gives up very little and is useful in defining values and shortness.

When my LHO heard me open one spade, he jumped to four clubs at favorable vulnerability, holding ♠ 4,  Q-3,  10-5-4, ♣ K-Q-J-7-6-3-2. His partner saved over four spades and went for 500, but that was still a good score for them. When I asked if that did not promise eight clubs he said that he thought he had an eight-card suit –but I don't believe him! Was his call right?

Number-Cruncher, Hamilton, Ontario

When it comes to pre-empting, like so much in life, inflation has struck hard. Since at this vulnerability some would make a weak jump with only a moderate six-carder, you can understand why he went the extra mile. And since it worked, one can hardly criticize his choice too harshly!

Can you provide some simple guidelines for when one should open strong two- or three-suiters with two clubs, as opposed to bidding the long suit first at the one-level? I've always been taught to open low — but I seem to be in the minority these days.

Aim-Low Club, Laredo, Texas

I tend to open three-suiters at the one-level with 21 or fewer points, though with a singleton honor in a major and 4-4-4-1 shape, one can sometimes cheat and open two no-trump. On two-suited hands with a longer minor than major, one tends to save space by opening the long suit, so unless you have game in your own hand. I'd eschew the two-club call.

Either times have changed (quite likely!) or I seem to have forgotten a few things, such as what should happen in the following bidding sequence. I passed my partner's one-club opening and my LHO balanced with one diamond. Now my partner bid one no-trump, showing more than a strong no-trump, right? But do transfers apply here if I choose to act?

Risk Averse, Fayetteville, N.C.

I think once a suit has been bid by the hand that rebids at no-trump, transfers would only apply by special agreement. It is too likely you might want to play two clubs here, for example. However, just for the record: In an unopposed auction, responder can use transfers after a two-no-trump response — though that would require an unusual agreement.


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 2013. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Saturday, November 16th, 2013

Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.

Confucius


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

♠5

Over the course of the last few years, money tournaments, in particular Invitational Pairs and Auction Pairs, seem to have sprung up all over the world. P.G. Eliassen of Sweden was playing in one of these events when he declared a deceptively simple hand, which nonetheless illustrates a useful theme.

Against five diamonds, West led a spade to the ace, and East switched to a heart, which Eliassen won in hand. The important message to bear in mind on a hand like this is that when things appear straightforward, you should plan for unfriendly distribution, then see what can be done about it. Here it was easy to work out that if clubs were splitting, there would not be too many problems, but if anyone was going to be short, it would be East. Eliassen carefully did not draw any trump, but instead led the club ace, then a club toward his king. If both opponents had followed, he would simply have given up a club and claimed. As it was, when East showed out, declarer won the club king and gave up a club. He could win the return and still have two entries to dummy to ruff out the clubs and draw the trump.

The key to the hand was not drawing even one round of trump. If you release the diamond ace, you allow East to score his jack of trump on the fourth round of clubs, and if you lead to dummy’s diamond honors, you take out a critical entry for establishing the clubs. East could have defeated the game by ruffing in on the second club, (or even by pitching a heart) but once he pitched a spade declarer saw his chance and took it.


Yes, you have nice-fitting cards in partner's suits, and yes, you have a little extra in high cards. But there is still no need to do more than bid two spades. With the best will in the world your hand still adds up to a 10-count with a doubleton trump support. Passing two diamonds or raising to three diamonds would be wrong — don't ever raise the second suit with only three trumps if you can avoid it.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ J 2
 7 5 4
 K Q 4
♣ A 8 7 5 2
South West North East
1♠ Pass
1 NT 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 2013. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, November 15th, 2013

Times go by turns and chances change by course,
From foul to fair, from better hap to worse.

Robert Southwell


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

Q

With 26 high-card points and no substantial trump suit, North-South should reach the no-trump game. South's two-no-trump rebid indicates an 18-19 count, and now North has more than enough to continue to game. He could explore for a 5-3 spade fit, but it looks so much better for South to be declarer here that he might as well simply drive to the no-trump game.

Against this contract West leads the heart queen. Declarer can either win or duck the trick, but when he gains the lead, he should know that success or failure in three no-trump will hinge on the play of the spade suit. What are the options?

Since the club suit provides too remote a chance for extra tricks, declarer must attempt to take four spade tricks, and there are no side entries to dummy. By ducking the first spade trick completely, then leading a spade to the ace when he regains the lead, South will garner the necessary tricks if the spades divide 3-3 or if either opponent holds a doubleton queen. This line of play gives a better chance than any other method of managing the spade suit, since the chance of a 3-3 break or the queen coming down in two rounds is approximately 50 percent. By finessing first and then cashing the ace and king, you would hold yourself to at most three spade tricks unless the suit breaks 3-3, and that happens only one third of the time.


When our side has bid hearts and theirs spades, it makes sense to me for your partner's call of four clubs to show hearts and clubs — in order to help with the decision over the almost inevitable call of four spades. On this occasion, your clubs are good but your trumps feeble, and you have soft cards in the other two suits, thus no idea what to do. When you don't know what to do, pass and let partner decide.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ Q 8
 8 6 2
 Q 10 8 6
♣ K J 8 4
South West North East
1 1♠
2 3♠ 4♣ 4♠
?      

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 2013. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, November 14th, 2013

Traffic signals in New York are just rough guidelines.

David Letterman


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

Q

Today's deal demonstrates an unusual use of the suit-preference signal. I am sure you are all broadly familiar with the concept of issuing suit-preference signals when giving partner a ruff: You play a low card to get him to switch to the lower outstanding suit, and a high card when you prefer the higher suit. But today's signal showed a different position.

North-South quickly bid to game after South had opened a somewhat idiosyncratic strong no-trump. With all his side’s defensive strength, West started with a top heart, and continued with a heart to East’s 10. East cashed the heart ace and had to decide which suit to play now. The natural switch was to a club, and now declarer had nine tricks when he ran his clubs and read the ending accurately.

What has this got to do with suit-preference signals? you might ask. The point is that West should have shifted to the higher of his two small hearts at trick two, for suit-preference reasons. If East had seen him play the heart nine, then the two, this would have warned East that his partner wanted a play other than a club switch and should have alerted him to the possibility of a layout in which South had a running club suit, similar to the one that existed. If that was the case, a diamond switch would be the only hope at trick four.


Your hand looks as if it is worth a second call, since you might well find that your side can make nine tricks in clubs while your opponents could make eight tricks in whichever red suit they settle in. While a double here would be takeout, you should only make that call with four spades, or with better spades and worse clubs than this. A simple call of three clubs looks right.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ K 10 6
 5 3
 K 4
♣ A K Q 9 6 3
South West North East
1
2♣ Dbl. Pass 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 2013. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Wednesday, November 13th, 2013

You should not honor men more than truth.

Plato


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

♠J

Generally speaking, when you have two or more touching honors in a suit, it is normal to lead one of them, while you tend to lead low when you have only a single honor. But, as always, using your brain rather than blindly following rules is a better idea.

When West decided to lead a spade, he did not expect to be on lead again, so he intelligently started with the jack. When this held the trick, he continued with a second spade to East’s king. East switched to a low heart, won, revealingly, with dummy’s queen.

Declarer next played a diamond to his queen, and could have succeeded now by cashing his hearts before continuing with diamonds. After taking his diamond and spade aces, East would have been endplayed to lead into dummy’s club tenace for the ninth trick. However, expecting that this line would set up too many winners for the defense, declarer decided to hope for a doubleton diamond ace. So he continued with a diamond to dummy’s king and then another diamond to East’s ace. East cashed the spade ace, but then had nothing left but clubs and hearts.

East could see that it was important now not to let declarer into his own hand. Covering all his bases, East shifted to the club king, and declarer had to go two down. Note that if he had instead played a low club, declarer would have won the trick with the jack, and he would have claimed the rest.


Your partner's call of two diamonds is the fourth suit, a forcing inquiry. It asks you to show support for your partner, rebid no-trump with a stopper in the fourth suit, or to show extra shape in either of your two long suits. Here, your diamond stopper is more than sufficient for a call of two no-trump. For the record, a bid of three no-trump would have shown 15-17.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ Q 7 5 3
 Q
 K 7 4
♣ A Q 6 5 2
South West North East
1♣ Pass 1 Pass
1♠ 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 2013. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, November 12th, 2013

I know that I shall meet my fate
Somewhere among the clouds above.
Those that I fight I do not hate.
Those that I guard I do not love.

W.B. Yeats


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

5

At the Dyspeptics Club the players always prefer to attribute a poor result to fate rather than to their own incompetence.

In today’s deal, after going down in his spade game, South claimed that there was nothing he could have done to improve his result. He had not chosen the right partner who would substantiate that claim.

As North said, against four spades West had been faced with an awkward lead. If he had chosen a heart and East had switched to diamonds at either the second or third trick, North admitted that he would have been forced to agree with South’s comment, but in practice West had chosen the diamond five for his opening salvo.

Declarer won East’s king with his ace, drew trump, and finessed in clubs. Everything was wrong — the club finesse lost, West was put in with the diamond queen, and now when he returned a heart, there was no winning guess available to declarer, who had to go one off whatever he did.

Yes, South was unlucky — all the missing high cards were badly placed for him — but can you see a much better line of play that would practically have guaranteed his contract? Try letting East’s diamond king win the first trick.

This gives up a second (but irrelevant) natural winner in diamonds, but the point is that West is now kept out of the lead and can never make the punishing heart switch. After this play, declarer would have made 10 tricks painlessly.


At your partner's previous turn, two no-trump would not have been forcing. But how much does your partner have in the way of extras? This is unclear in Standard American. I'd expect him to hold about a strong no-trump. With more, he would have cue-bid first. So it seems that you do not have enough extras to raise to four no-trump, quantitative. Give me the diamond queen instead of the jack, and I would bid on.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ K Q 4
 K 5
 J 9 7
♣ A 9 8 7 3
South West North East
1 1♠
2♣ Pass 3 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 2013. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, November 11th, 2013

What sculpture is to a block of marble, education is to the soul.

Joseph Addison


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

♠6

On the second round of bidding in today's deal, South must choose between raising clubs and bidding no-trump. With strong stoppers in the unbid suit and mediocre support for clubs, he should go for the nine-trick game rather than the 11-trick game. Of course this is an auction where North can always repeat his clubs at his next turn if his hand is unsuitable.

The appearance of dummy after West’s spade lead should indicate to East that the contract can be defeated only if the defense can run the spade suit when it gains the lead with the diamond ace. East knows that his partner cannot hold much more than a queen outside whatever spade honors he may have,

Since the spade suit may become blocked unless East retains his small spade, he must jettison an honor (the jack is clearly the right card) under dummy’s spade ace. East can then obtain the lead with his diamond ace and will next lead his remaining spade honor through declarer. Even if declarer ducks, East’s last spade will put West on play to cash out the suit.

The defense can thus win one diamond and four spade tricks to defeat the game. But if East parsimoniously plays small at trick one, the spade suit blocks and the defenders cannot take more than two tricks in the suit whatever they do. South emerges with four diamond tricks, three heart tricks, and the black aces for nine tricks.


Just because your opponents have announced a stopper in your suit should not be enough on its own to put you off leading it. But you have an attractive alternative in your spade suit. Yes, declarer rates to have four, but so does your partner, and as long as he has any of the three missing top spades, you should be able to set the suit up for your side.

LEAD WITH THE ACES

♠ Q 10 7 3
 K 7 5 2
 9 7
♣ J 7 3
South West North East
Pass 1 Dbl. 1♠
2 Pass Pass 2 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 2013. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.