Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, January 24th, 2019

Feeling does not succeed in converting consolation into truth, nor does reason succeed in converting truth into consolation.

Miguel de Unamuno


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

*maximum pass, with heart support

♣2

At the Yeh Bros. tournament last summer, the New Zealand team did not have much to cheer about. But GeO Tislevoll (formerly of Norway, but now a New Zealand resident) found a nice line in the game here.

As South, declaring four hearts after a straightforward, if optimistic, unopposed Drury sequence, he received a club lead. He won the ace and took a spade finesse, then played the ace and another spade, ruffing with the seven. Then he played the club king and ruffed a club, and led his winning spade 10. When East followed small, Tislevoll carefully ruffed it with the jack as West pitched a diamond. That allowed declarer to ruff his last club in dummy and lead dummy’s heart queen.

East had to win his ace, of course, and he was then able to cash the diamond ace, felling his partner’s king for the defenders’ second trick. East could give his partner a diamond ruff now, but GeO’s trump ten-ace of the king-eight was good enough to take the last two tricks when West had to lead away from his 10.

Did you note the defensive resource? When declarer ruffs his winning spade to hand at trick seven, West must underruff, preserving his diamond holding.

The key difference here is that when declarer leads his trump from dummy, East can win the heart ace and underlead his diamond ace. Now the defenders cash two diamonds, ending in East, after which the defense can promote a trump for West on the lead of either plain card in the two-card ending.



There are some who play this call as unusual (showing 5-5 in the black suits), but it is far more effective for an unpassed hand to use this call to show a good strong no-trump. That said you hand now seems to be worth a bid of Stayman, both to invite game and to try to find a spade fit. If you don’t find a spade fit, bid two no-trump.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ A Q 10 8
 Q 9 6
 9 8 7 3 2
♣ 3
South West North East
      1 ♣
Pass 1 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 2019. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Wednesday, January 23rd, 2019

The struggle to reach the top is itself enough to fulfill the heart of man.

Albert Camus


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

*12-14 or any 18-plus

♠2

Today’s deal from the Yeh Bros. tournament last year is out of character for this column: While the play is easy, the bidding is unusual. But the auction shows how good players think, even in a relatively unfamiliar partnership.

When the Poles were eliminated from the main event, they swapped partnerships for the consolation event. Michal Klukowski and Piotr-Pavel Zakorski won it, having found their way to a grand slam with the splendid auction shown here.

The one-club opener didn’t promise a good hand, but it could have had short clubs. After North’s natural and non-forcing two-club response, Klukowski (South) set clubs as trump with his rebid, then bypassed his heart ace to cue-bid his spade ace, knowing that if North did anything but bid five clubs, he would have a heart control. Then Klukowski would bid the grand slam.

When North denied a heart control, Klukowski’s five-heart call showed the ace and promised interest in a grand slam. That would let his partner bid the grand slam, sign off with no extras, bid five spades with second-round control (which would be bad news) or do anything else appropriate. North’s five no-trump call was intended — and interpreted — as extra club length or an extra diamond control.

Klukowski now knew his partner had at least two spades and two hearts, so relatively short diamonds were guaranteed. If his partner had seven clubs, he would be almost able to claim the grand slam; as the cards lay, there were indeed 13 top tricks.



It is tempting to run from the double, but do you have any reason to assume spades or diamonds will play better? Your partner surely has some heart length here, or the opponents might be playing in that suit, so I suspect you won’t have an eight-card fit elsewhere. I would pass, albeit reluctantly. Give me the diamond jack instead of the two, and I might run.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ K 6 5 4 3
 10 6
 Q 10 5 3 2
♣ 7
South West North East
      1
Pass 1 2 ♣ Pass
Pass Dbl. Pass Pass
?      

For details of Bobby Wolff’s autobiography, The Lone Wolff, contact theLoneWolff@bridgeblogging.com. If you would like to contact Bobby Wolff, please leave a comment at this blog.
Reproduced with permission of United Feature Syndicate, Inc., Copyright 2019. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, January 22nd, 2019

Now is not the hour that requires such help, nor those defenders.

Virgil


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

*Majors

10

Today’s deal comes from the Swiss Qualifier at the Yeh Bros. tournament in China last year. The tournament is the biggest cash prize event on the regular calendar; it consists of a Swiss qualifying tournament followed by a knockout.

Today’s deal presents a defensive problem. Put yourself in the West seat and see what you would do. You start by leading the heart 10 against three no-trump; partner’s seven is discouraging as declarer wins the queen. South now plays a diamond to the ace, and partner’s diamond four is part of a style where echoing in diamonds would have been a further discouragement in hearts.

Declarer now passes the spade jack to you, partner’s four suggesting an even number. Can you think of a good reason not to win this — and what will you do next?

At the table, West took his queen and decided the play so far was consistent with declarer holding A-Q-J of hearts. So, he decided to go for the gold with a shift to the club king. I’m not sure what he intended to do if declarer had ducked — as he surely would have if this shift had been the best defense. But as you can see, this line of defense did not test declarer.

In the other room, Ivan Nanev for Bulgaria, sitting East, did not give his partner, Julian Stefanov, that problem. He followed with the heart jack to his partner’s lead of the 10 at trick one. There were no further complications in the defense now. When you think about it, how can that be wrong?



This is the precise hand that makes a Flannery opening to show the majors and a minimum opener a good idea. Alternatively, playing the no-trump response as non-forcing would let you pass with a clear conscience. If you play the one no-trump response as forcing (I don’t), you should bid two clubs as smoothly as you can, hoping to get by this round of the auction.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ A Q 5 3
 K 10 9 8 5
 J 9
♣ K 4
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 2019. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, January 21st, 2019

Fraud includes the pretense of knowledge when knowledge there is none.

Benjamin Cardozo


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

*Smolen: five hearts and four
  spades

♣Q

In today’s deal from the Yeh Bros. tournament last July, one South opened and rebid clubs, and played in two clubs. The other followed the sequence shown; readers can decide whose method of handling the South cards they prefer. But certainly, reaching four hearts while concealing the major elements of the strong hand has something to recommend it.

For Chinese Taipei, Sidney Yang led a top club, and David Yang (East) won the first heart to play back a club. Declarer Keyzad Anklesaria put in the 10, forcing the jack, and ruffed in dummy, then led a spade to the king and ace, and ruffed the next spade high. Now he lead a heart to the nine and got the good and bad news.

Next he played a low diamond from dummy; had East ducked, declarer would have put in the jack and led clubs to neutralize West’s trump holding, with a diamond re-entry to hand if West ruffed the first club. East actually took his diamond ace and played back a second diamond, but declarer could simply win in hand and run clubs through West for the trump coup.

Nicely played by declarer, but where the New Zealand team was defending four hearts on a similar auction, also on a top club lead, Matthew Brown as East won the heart king at trick two and shifted to a low diamond. To make four hearts now, declarer would have had to put in the jack — a tough but not impossible play. When he played low, he found himself stuck in dummy and could do nothing but led a spade to West’s ace, after which a diamond return for the ruff settled declarer’s hash.



Even if your partner has three hearts, you seem to have no entry to your suit. Therefore, I would try to find partner’s long suit, which is surely clubs, not spades. If he had a five-card suit and values, he might have overcalled in spades, but may not have had enough to bid at the two-level.

LEAD WITH THE ACES

♠ 9 8 5
 Q J 9 4 2
 Q 4
♣ 5 3 2
South West North East
  1 Pass 1
Pass 2 Pass 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 2019. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, January 20th, 2019

I know that my one-level overcalls should be on five-card suits or longer, but I have seen you recommend the action of overcalling with only four on occasion. And what about two-level overcalls — would you say five-card suits, as opposed to six-, are the exception, not the rule?

Short Shrift, New Haven, Conn.

Four-card suit overcalls at the one-level are rare. Bidding a strong four-carder with opening values may occur when you can’t double because of a shortage in an unbid major and the hand isn’t suitable for a one-no-trump call. Don’t overcall on a bad suit at the two-level, but sometimes your values require you to bid with only five and a reasonable suit in a strong hand when nothing else will do.

Holding ♠ A-J-2,  K-9-6,  Q-10-7-4, ♣ 10-6-3, I decided to raise my partner’s one-spade opener to two (suggesting 7-10 in our style, as we play forcing no-trump). Do you agree? After my partner tries for game with a call of three clubs, what do you recommend?

King Creole, Selma, Ala.

I like the simple raise. Now you can assume your partner has made a game-try suggesting three or four clubs in a suit where he needs help. Your club suit is as bad as it could be, but you have a maximum hand in high cards and decent spot cards. Maybe you could try three no-trump to suggest these values and let partner decide what to do next.

If you open a minor suit and your partner responds with one no-trump, are you allowed to invite to two no-trump with a good 16-count, or do you have to pass? What is the minimum you need to bid two no-trump, or even three no-trump?

Simple Simon, Vero Beach, Fla.

A jump to three no-trump suggests either a 19-count or a running minor and no shortage (since a jump to three in a new suit would be a self-agreeing splinter here). With an unbalanced 16-17 or a balanced 18, you can raise to two no-trump instead. You may be single-suited or have a 5-4 shape with a second suit you no longer feel like you need to introduce.

I was in third seat with ♠ 9-2,  K-Q-6-4-3,  A-7-4, ♣ 10-3-2, playing teams, and I heard my partner open three diamonds at favorable vulnerability. What is the right tactical approach in situations like this, playing with a relatively aggressive pre-empter?

Movers and Shakers, Riverside, Calif.

To give your opponents the hardest problem, you can jump to five diamonds, fortified by the knowledge that partner could have pre-empted to two diamonds but chose to do more. After a club pre-empt, you would not have quite as much confidence. Make them guess!

I dealt myself ♠ A-J-10-2,  A-K-7,  4, ♣ Q-10-6-3-2, and opened one club. When I heard one diamond from my partner, I bid one spade, of course, and was given preference to two clubs. How much more would I need to bid on, and if I do act, how should I proceed?

Spare Change, Pueblo, Colo.

You have a nice hand, but your second action (one spade instead of one no-trump) suggests an unbalanced or semi-balanced hand, and your partner could have invited to three clubs easily enough. So I would surely pass, but I would not need much more in the club suit (say K-J-10-6-3) to consider bidding on with a call of two hearts, which might suggest a pattern very similar to this one.


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 2019. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Saturday, January 19th, 2019

The public … demands certainties … but there are no certainties.

H.L. Mencken


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

*Forcing

♠J

Different partnerships play inverted raises (a system in which the direct raise of a minor in an uncompetitive auction is strong, while a jump raise is weak) in different ways.

South had agreed that the simple raise was forcing as far as three of a minor. Thus, his two-no-trump call was forcing, suggesting 12-14 or 18-plus. When he bid on over three no-trump, he showed the extra values, and North had such weak trumps that he had no reason to choose to play in the suit contract, especially because South could have moved on with a call of four clubs over three no-trump if he had wanted to set clubs as trump. That was a good idea today!

West put the spade jack on the table, and declarer won in hand and led a heart to dummy to advance a low club from that side. When East showed out, declarer saw that his only chance now would be to strip West of all his plain cards and force him to lead clubs at trick 12.

So he cashed his three remaining heart winners, West pitching his fifth club, after which three rounds of diamonds forced a spade out of West. South had a complete count of the West hand now, but when he took his last spade winner, he was locked in dummy, forced to lead a club and concede two of the last three tricks.

Too late, South realized that to make his slam he had needed to win trick one in dummy. Then, in the same three-card ending, he would have been able to lead a low club from hand, and West would have been forced to concede the last two tricks.



This feels like a good hand for hearts, but the issue is whether partner is showing a good hand or merely an invitational one. If you were sure that your partner had a good hand, you could bid three hearts and intend it to be forcing. To me, though, the three-club call sounds non-forcing, so you should just bid four hearts now and avoid accidents.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ K 9 4
 A J 10
 A Q 3
♣ 10 8 5 2
South West North East
1 ♣ 1 ♠ 2 Pass
2 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 2019. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, January 18th, 2019

The rich have become richer and the poor have become poorer; and the vessel of the state is driven between the Scylla and Charybdis of anarchy and despotism.

Percy Shelley


E North
None ♠ 8 5 3
 Q 9 6
 A Q 7 5
♣ K 8 3
West East
♠ 9 2
 K 2
 10 6 4 3 2
♣ Q 7 4 2
♠ A 6 4
 A J 10 3
 K J 9
♣ J 9 6
South
♠ K Q J 10 7
 8 7 5 4
 8
♣ A 10 5
South West North East
      1 NT
2 ♣ * Pass 2 ** Pass
2 ♠ All pass    

*Majors

**Asking for the longer major

♣4

When East upgraded his 14-count into a strong no-trump, South came in to show the majors. He ended up in two spades when North wisely opted to find his partner’s better major and not to invite game. That was sensible enough, since these deals are so much more often about contesting the part-score than about reaching game in the teeth of a strong opening bid.

When West led a diamond against two spades, South flew up with the ace and ruffed a diamond to hand with a high trump (necessary as the cards lay, to preserve a possible entry to dummy) before leading a heart toward the queen. West took his king and shifted to a low club to the jack and ace. Now came a second heart to the nine and 10. Seeing dummy’s weak trump holding, East won and continued with the ace and another heart. That let West score his spade nine, but declarer was able to discard a club from dummy and eventually ruff a club loser on the board for his contract.

It would not have done East any good to continue clubs when in with the second heart, assuming declarer guessed correctly which club to play from hand (not so easy to do).

In fact, though, the only way to beat the game by force is to lead a trump to the first trick. This is often sensible when declarer has shown a two-suiter and you either have a strength in declarer’s second suit or can infer that your partner does, as is the case when he has opened one no-trump.



Your cue-bid shows a limit raise or better in diamonds. That said, you have nothing in reserve, but just enough in hearts to bid two no-trump now. This suggests a hand in the invitational range and is not forcing, which perfectly describes your assets. Let partner make the next decision, if any, as to strain and level.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ 8 5 3
 Q 9 6
 A Q 7 5
♣ K 8 3
South West North East
    1 1
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 2019. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, January 17th, 2019

Curfew must not ring tonight.

Rose Hartwick Thorpe


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

Pass

4 ♠ All pass    

K

No one could be more enthusiastic than I about the merits of reading bridge hands in books and especially newspapers (a fact that may not entirely surprise you). However, when you do so, you will often be consciously or subconsciously aware that there is a critical play or kill-point in the deal. At the table, of course, the players may not hear the bell ring to tell them to focus their attention. By the time the bell does ring, it may be for their own funeral.

Consider the contract of four spades here. When West leads the heart king, East gives count by starting an echo, so West continues by leading out his high hearts. Would this seem like a critical moment in the deal to you? It should, since if declarer ruffs the third heart with dummy’s solitary trump, East will over-ruff, and a diamond return means that declarer cannot escape a diamond loser.

As declarer can afford to lose three tricks, it is sensible to retain dummy’s lone trump as an entry to the South hand to allow him to draw trumps. The discard of a minor-suit card from dummy at trick three solves the problem. A further heart lead by West can be ruffed in hand. Trumps will be drawn, and South’s losing diamond vanishes on a club.

Similarly, of course, the defenders cannot profit by shifting to a minor at trick four. After winning the trick in dummy, declarer can draw trumps, following which, once again, the losing diamond can be disposed of on a club.



Yes, your partner may have been dealt two trump tricks and not much else. But it is far more practical to play this double as a decent hand, asking you to decide whether you want to play offense or defense. If so, you must bid on now. A call of four no-trump to suggest the minors and a hand like this will let partner determine the best trump suit and what to bid over further competition.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ 8
 8 6
 A 10 7 2
♣ A K Q 7 5 3
South West North East
      1 ♠
2 ♣ 4 ♠ 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 2019. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Wednesday, January 16th, 2019

A mind quite vacant is a mind distressed.

William Cowper


S North
None ♠ Q J 6 2
 5 2
 A Q 10 8 7 4
♣ 6
West East
♠ 9
 Q 10 6 4 3
 5 2
♣ K 10 7 4 3
♠ 10 5 3
 J 9
 K J 9 6 3
♣ Q 8 2
South
♠ A K 8 7 4
 A K 8 7
 —
♣ A J 9 5
South West North East
1 ♠ Pass 4 ♠ Pass
6 ♠ All pass    

5

After South opens one spade, North should want to drive his side to game. However, a jump to four spades sounds purely pre-emptive (a similar hand with less in diamonds, maybe). Depending on his methods, North might be able to show a side-suit singleton with less than game values, if using a jump to three no-trump as 9-12 with trump support and an as yet undisclosed shortage in a side suit. Or, he could use a call of three no-trump to show a constructive raise to four spades.

Either way, though, South should end up in six spades, and on a diamond lead, the timing of the crossruff may prove to be more than a little inconvenient.

My preferred line is to finesse the diamond queen and ruff away East’s king. Then the club ace and a club ruff followed by the diamond ace will allow South to re-enter hand with the heart ace for a second club ruff. A heart to hand for a third club ruff high lets declarer ruff a diamond high in hand, and a heart in dummy with North’s last top spade.

After 10 tricks (three diamonds, four clubs and three hearts), the lead is in dummy, which has three diamonds left, while declarer still has the A-8-7 of spades. Declarer leads a diamond and ruffs with the spade seven, not caring that West may be able to over-ruff. Even if he can, he will be forced to lead a card back into declarer’s spade tenace, and South will have his 12 tricks.



In second seat, your pre-emptive opening bids should be relatively disciplined. Even when at favorable vulnerability, I would not want to open two diamonds with such a potentially powerful major suit on the side. To change this to a hand that I might pre-empt with, move the spade queen into either side suit, or make the spade queen the three.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ Q J 6 2
 5 2
 A Q 10 8 7 4
♣ 6
South West North East
      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 2019. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, January 15th, 2019

Every Communist must grasp the truth: Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun.

Mao Zedong


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

4

The modern defender has to have a number of weapons in his armory. These include a method of leading (top of honor sequences, fourth-highest from length, occasionally second-highest from four or five small against no-trump). Then he needs a system of signaling — high cards for an even number or encouragement — plus the judicious use of suit-preference signals. When attitude and count are irrelevant or already known, high cards suggest the higher suit, low cards the lower.

A hot potato when it comes to signaling at no trump is the Smith Echo. After the opening lead, each defensive hand can use this tool to reinforce whether they like that suit as soon as possible. Following to declarer’s first lead, when not giving count, a defender’s high spot card encourages the suit of the opening lead, while a low spot card denies extras in that suit. This signal can produce tempo problems – and sometimes the message can be conveyed in other ways, as in today’s deal.

Against three no-trump, West’s heart four went to the 10 and king. South played on clubs, West winning the second round as East echoed, to say he liked hearts. West now decided that South might be left with the bare heart queen, so he cashed the ace, which was fatal since it blocked the suit.

Note: If East had broken the bridge rules by playing the heart jack to trick one, then West knows that a low heart at his next turn is right, whether East has the queen or not, since South surely has the 10! West can subsequently overtake the queen to run the suit and defeat the game.



Whether playing inverted raises or not (where a simple raise promises a limit raise or better), this hand is on the cusp between a diamond raise and a one-no-trump response. In a strong no-trump base, I lean slightly toward bidding one no-trump, since it isn’t entirely clear I will be wrong-siding no-trump. As a passed hand, I might raise diamonds, since partner is slightly more likely to have real diamonds.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ K 10 6
 8 6 3
 K 10 6 3
♣ K J 6
South West North East
    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 2019. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.