Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Saturday, November 24th, 2018

When you ain’t got nothing, you got nothing to lose.
You’re invisible now, you got no secrets to conceal.

Bob Dylan


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

♣K

After the first final session of the Mitchell Board-a-Match Teams from San Diego last year, Steve Sanborn was full of praise for his wife’s play in four spades doubled … but despite the fact that everybody was supposed to be playing the same deals, nobody else recognized the hand. Steve and Kerri were playing against Dennis Bilde and Giorgio Duboin.

The late John Lowenthal — everyone’s No. 1 choice for “Mad scientist on opening lead” — might have led a red suit at trick one. Bilde, however, looked no further than a top club for his opening salvo. At the sight of dummy, he shifted to a diamond, which went to the three, nine and queen.

Kerri played the spade 10 to the king and ace, won the spade return and ran all the trumps. She had come down to the doubleton ace in each red suit in her hand and the doubleton jack in each red suit in dummy, but what four cards was East to keep?

To keep the diamonds and hearts guarded, Duboin also had to retain two cards in each red suit. Declarer then played the heart ace and another heart; Duboin could win the latter trick, but he was then endplayed to concede the last two tricks in diamonds. Making the doubled game was good for a win on the board.

So why did no one else know the deal? It was board 28 in a 14-table section, but all the other sections had only 13 tables, so they had only played boards one through 26.



Does this hand meet the minimum requirement for a call of two diamonds? My instinct is that acting here, while technically very dangerous, is something that you will tend to get away with more often than not. If you are going to bid, do it confidently! Who is to say you don’t have an ace or extra card more than you actually have? I might be more cautious when vulnerable at teams, though.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ A J
 K Q 9 5 3
 K 10 9 4
♣ 6 4
South West North East
      1 ♣
1 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 2018. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, November 23rd, 2018

The laws of God, the laws of man, He may keep that will and can.

A.E. Housman


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

7

In today’s deal from the 2014 European Championships, host nation Croatia faced the favorites and ultimate silver medalists, Monaco.

In one room, South reached the normal contract, despite East’s light third-in-hand opening. After a heart lead, a simple line would be to rely on either the diamond or spade finesse working, by leading to the diamond queen. However, that approach would fail today.

Instead, assume that the contract will always make if the spade finesse works. If it doesn’t, the diamond king will surely be wrong. You cannot avoid the spade loser, but your play in the diamond suit can be tailored to the circumstances of the deal.

So how should you play diamonds for just one loser? The best line is to use the technique first identified and classified as the intra-finesse by Gabriel Chagas.

At trick two, play a small diamond to the eight or nine. East wins with the jack and returns a heart. You ruff the third heart and enter dummy with the club ace, then run the spade 10. West wins the king, you ruff the heart return, and now (though you do not know it) West has longer trumps than you.

But you play the club king and ruff a club, then lead the diamond queen. East covers, and when you play the ace, West’s 10 makes an appearance.

If you read the position, you will leave trumps alone, instead playing out another diamond. Although West can ruff, he must concede the rest whether he plays back a club or a spade.



I would start by redoubling, rather than bidding my suits, planning to double them if they escape to a minor. If my partner doubles the opponents’ escape to two hearts, I would sit for it. If two hearts comes around to me, I suppose I will bid three diamonds.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ A Q J 8 4
 A
 A 7 6 5
♣ K 8 4
South West North East
1 ♠ Pass 1 NT Dbl.
?      

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 2018. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, November 22nd, 2018

The things we know best are those we have not learned.

Marquis de Vauvenargues


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

♣7

West’s pre-emptive club raise forces North to commit to game or part-score. When he takes the high road, South buys a dummy where he is apparently doomed to lose a club, two diamonds and a spade in four hearts. However, to make up for the wasted values in clubs and duplication of shape, South can find good luck elsewhere — as long as he plays for it.

When East wins his club ace and shifts to a low diamond, South must put up the king. East has opened the bidding, suggesting he has the diamond ace, and ducking would expose him to a ruff as well as the loss of three tricks in the minors.

South’s king wins as West follows with the queen. South next draws trumps and gives up a diamond, and East must let West win with his jack, or the diamond nine will become established to provide a discard for declarer.

After winning the diamond jack, what can West do? If he shifts to a low spade, that forces East to play the jack. Declarer wins and (if he guesses correctly that spades are breaking rather than diamonds) drives out the master spade, with the defenders’ communications cut. So declarer can cash the long spade to pitch his diamond.

If West instead shifts to the spade 10 or queen, declarer ducks and can now build his spade winner in peace and quiet.

Notice that if the spades in the East and West hands are switched, when West shifts to a low spade at trick six, East must put in the 10!



Despite holding a minimum opening bid, you must reopen with a double here. This shows short hearts and lets partner describe his hand accurately. I expect partner has a penalty double of one heart — don’t you? Yes, the opponents might have missed a game, but that isn’t terribly likely.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ J 7 3
 3
 A 10 6 2
♣ A Q J 8 5
South West North East
      Pass
1 ♣ 1 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 2018. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Wednesday, November 21st, 2018

Don’t ever become a pessimist … a pessimist is correct oftener than an optimist, but an optimist has more fun, and neither can stop the march of events.

Robert Heinlein


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

*Promising a king

J

Against six spades, a trump lead would work best to disrupt dummy’s late entries, and I suppose you can make a good case for it if you consider how weak partner’s hand is likely to be. But few of us would look too far beyond the heart sequence, so South should plan the play after winning with his heart ace at the first trick.

A poor player would pitch his diamond on the heart winner and would end up with two club losers. Meanwhile, an optimist would put all his faith in a diamond break or the convenient fall of a diamond honor. He would cross to dummy to take the diamond finesse and go down.

But the expert will rely on the diamonds breaking no worse than 4-2 — in which case he really doesn’t need any help with the fall of an honor, thanks to dummy’s trump entries.

At trick two, he plays the diamond ace, then the queen. As the cards lie, West must win and can do no better than lead a trump. Declarer wins with dummy’s spade six, underplaying it with his own three, then ruffs a diamond with the spade ace. He leads the spade seven to dummy’s eight, ruffs a diamond with the trump king, and can finally lead the spade nine to the 10. The club losers disappear on the heart king and the good diamond.

Incidentally, after a trump lead, declarer could technically succeed by winning in dummy and running the club jack, covered all around. Then he takes all his hearts and trumps to catch West in a club-diamond squeeze at the end.



I cannot guarantee that your side can make game here. But the combination of your singleton spade and weak hearts facing likely shortage (partner did not make a support double) means that your values appear to be working well and your spade shortage will surely prove useful. I would jump to three spades as a splinter agreeing clubs.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ 5
 J 10 9 7 4
 K J 6 3
♣ K Q 5
South West North East
    1 ♣ Pass
1 1 ♠ 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 2018. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, November 20th, 2018

‘It’s always best on these occasions to do what the mob do.’ ‘But suppose there are two mobs?’ suggested Mr. Snodgrass. ‘Shout with the largest,’ replied Mr. Pickwick.

Charles Dickens


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

♠10

After East’s opening bid of one spade, South has something in hand for his overcall of one no-trump. North might now bid game, but he does have terrible spotcards. When he merely invites, South can bid game anyway.

West leads the spade 10, and South sees that he has the top two spades and three hearts, with the club ace providing a sixth trick. South must plan to get his three additional tricks from diamonds, and his only chance is to find the doubleton diamond ace in one opponent’s hand or the other. He must first investigate which opponent has that ace.

Since his side has 26 high-card points between them, there are only 14 points left for East and West. East should have at least 11 of these points to justify his vulnerable opening bid, so he is overwhelmingly likely to hold the missing ace.

So, South wins the first trick with the spade queen and enters dummy with a heart to lead the first diamond from dummy. East plays the diamond nine, and South wins with his king. He must now play back a low diamond and contribute a low diamond from the board, hoping that East will be forced to play the ace. When luck is with declarer and East’s ace pops up, South has succeeded in establishing diamonds for a loss of only one trick.

East can return the spade king, but South can win and run for home with nine winners now.



Facing a partner you can trust, the most likely problem you have here is whether to compete beyond three clubs if the opponents find a heart or spade fit at the three-level. Your choice is between a simple raise to three clubs and a two-heart cue-bid to show about a limit raise. I would take the cautious position and let partner take it from there. To do more, I’d need maybe a red king in place of one of the queens.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ 5 4
 A Q 7
 Q 8 6 2
♣ J 8 6 3
South West North East
  1 2 ♣ Dbl.
?      

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 2018. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, November 19th, 2018

A prince … must imitate the fox and the lion, for the lion cannot defend himself from snares, and the fox cannot defend himself from wolves. One must therefore be a fox to recognize snares and a lion to frighten wolves.

Niccolo Machiavelli


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

♠Q

When the sight of dummy reveals that entries may be at a premium, you must take care to avoid embarrassment. Now that you have been warned, you won’t fall into a heffalump trap, will you?

After a rapid auction to three no-trump, West led the spade queen. Declarer saw she had nine tricks — provided that the clubs brought in the expected five winners.

South ducked the opening lead, more for form’s sake than anything else, then won the spade continuation and reassessed what could go right and what could go wrong.

She noticed that if she played dummy’s clubs from the top and followed in her own hand with small cards, a 3-1 break in clubs would mean that she would be forced to win the fourth round of the suit in hand, blocking communications to the fifth winner. Similarly, if East held all four missing clubs, the contract would be doomed.

But there were two undesirable outcomes that declarer could handle, the first being that if West held all four missing clubs: The situation would still be under control, as long as South retained both her two high clubs (for the possible finesse) and the low one as an entry.

So, at trick three, South led the club seven from hand to dummy’s queen. When everyone followed, she now only had to remember to unblock her two high clubs under the king and ace.

However, if East had shown out, declarer would have been in position to return to hand and finesse against the jack.



I do not think this auction demands a heart lead, but it does suggest some kind of heart stack, and it further indicates that declarer cannot run that suit as his main source of tricks. I have no reason to assume that I know which of a spade or club lead will work better. So, I will lead the heart six and hope the sight of dummy will let partner work out what to do.

LEAD WITH THE ACES

♠ Q 7 4 2
 6 2
 9 5 4
♣ K J 6 3
South West North East
  1 Pass 1 NT
Pass 2 Pass 2 NT
Pass 3 NT Dbl. All Pass

For details of Bobby Wolff’s autobiography, The Lone Wolff, contact theLoneWolff@bridgeblogging.com. If you would like to contact Bobby Wolff, please leave a comment at this blog.
Reproduced with permission of United Feature Syndicate, Inc., Copyright 2018. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, November 18th, 2018

As declarer, when trying to locate the trump queen, might you expect to find that card in the hand on lead, simply because one sometimes leads a trump from a series of small cards, but very rarely away from the queen?

Finding the Lady, Bellevue, Wash.

This makes sense if there are no other clues available, but the argument doesn’t always apply; you’d never get a trump lead from someone who has an ace-king in a side-suit, for example, regardless of his trump values. Conversely, if he has led away from a vulnerable honor, you could certainly speculate on whether his trump holding might be even less attractive.

I was on lead against four spades, holding ♠ 10-7-3,  J-10-3-2,  8-5-3-2, ♣ A-4. My left-hand opponent had opened and rebid clubs, and my right-hand opponent had bid spades, then diamonds. Would you lead a club and look for ruffs, or would you lead the unbid suit — in which case, would you lead high or low?

Rumble Fish, Texarkana, Texas

The club ace does not appeal to me, though a singleton club ace would be an entirely different matter. Here, if you do lead hearts, you should lead the jack. Against no-trump, you sometimes lead fourth-highest, but the most likely downside of a heart honor lead is that it might set up a slow discard for declarer. Against suits, that is a far less significant concern, from my perspective.

In first seat, playing a teams game, I held ♠ A-K-3,  A-Q-J-10-2,  A-J-7-4, ♣ 3. I opened one heart and jumped to three diamonds over my partner’s one-no-trump response. When she raised to four diamonds, should I have cue-bid four spades or simply reraised to game? It turns out that all partner’s values were in clubs with a doubleton heart, so three no-trump would have made, but five diamonds went down on a bad break.

Pressed Suit, Brooklyn, N.Y.

My first thought is that giving false preference to three hearts with only a doubleton is clearly right here. As opener, you would now bid three spades and pass the three no-trump rebid, wouldn’t you? After your jump shift, you will be aware that when partner has three hearts, they will always revert to the suit game.

A few weeks ago, my husband and I saw a hand in your column where North with 10 points and four hearts heard his partner open one heart and the next hand double. What was the full message intended in his two-no-trump response, as opposed to a raise to three hearts, which would have been my choice?

Lost the Thread, Elmira, N.J.

After the double of a major-suit opening (and also, in some partnerships, after a minor-suit opener) many play a jump raise as pre-emptive. It would be all about shape and trump support and not about high cards. In this style, where a redouble shows values but denies fit, you can subvert a call of two no-trump to be the limit raise or better. This convention is known as Jordan (or Truscott).

I was dealt ♠ J-7-4,  A-K-9-4,  5-3, ♣ A-J-10-4 and heard my right-hand opponent open one diamond. I doubled, and when left-hand opponent raised to three diamonds, my partner doubled. I took that as responsive, suggesting both majors. I bid three hearts, and my partner converted to three spades. What does this sequence show, and was I right to pass?

Smoking Jacket, Doylestown, Pa.

I’m not sure I know precisely, but I’d expect invitational values, perhaps with spades and clubs. With fewer values or a hand oriented solely to spades, surely he would have bid the suit directly. I think the hand will play better in an eight- or nine-card fit in clubs, so I would bid four clubs now.


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 2018. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Saturday, November 17th, 2018

I have hardly ever known a mathematician who was capable of reasoning.

Plato


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

*Trump queen and club king

7

The second qualifying session of the Kaplan Blue Ribbon Pairs from San Diego last fall threw up a challenge for the analysts. Debbie Rosenberg posed this problem: What is the optimal contract for North-South on best play and defense?

With the heart finesse working, you can make six no-trump by setting up a club or building a second spade trick, should the opponents lead that suit. But how about seven diamonds, reached after Blackwood and an ask for the trump queen?

The line of play you could follow in six diamonds as North on a trump lead (win the diamond king, cash the club ace and club queen, play a diamond to dummy, take a club ruff high, then draw trumps and eventually take the heart finesse) seems to work.

Ah, but what about an initial heart lead? Your late entry to the heart suit has now gone. But Deep Finesse (the analytical tool that looks at best play by all four hands) still obstinately insists that seven diamonds can be made. Back to the drawing board!

The solution is not intrinsically complex, but the choice of lines makes it hard to spot.

Win the heart jack, ruff a heart, then draw four rounds of trumps to reduce down to a seven-card ending. East is caught in a three-suit squeeze on the last trump. To reduce to fewer than three hearts and four clubs would immediately be fatal. But to retain those cards, East must pitch the spade king. Declarer can unblock clubs, cash the heart ace and king, then finesse in spades.



Of course this is too good for a pass, so it seems obvious to raise clubs here. But this hand is still too good for a simple raise to three clubs — you would make that call if the spade ace were the jack or queen. If you trust your partner, you should bid two spades, a call that shows values like this. You cannot have spades since you bypassed the suit at your first turn.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ A 10 5
 2
 Q J 10 9
♣ K 10 9 7 5
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 2018. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, November 16th, 2018

The time was out of joint, and he was only too delighted to have been born to set it right.

Lytton Strachey


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

*Artificial and forcing

J

There are many reasons for rejecting a possible finesse. All too often, it may not be necessary, since the loser may be discarded elsewhere. Equally, though, the loss of a tempo if the finesse fails may be critical.

Declaring four spades, South takes the diamond lead in his hand. He sees he may have two diamond losers, as well as two club losers and one spade loser. Some of these may be discarded on dummy’s clubs, so he must set up that suit. Thus, declarer plays a club from his hand while he still retains his trump entries to dummy.

West will duck his club king, of course, and East wins his ace and should return a heart. Be careful now! At this point, declarer should not finesse, since his immediate goal is to discard diamond losers on the clubs. If the finesse succeeds, it may produce an overtrick. If it fails, declarer loses a vital tempo — which could be fatal. West can return a diamond after winning the heart king, setting up a winner before clubs can be established for the discards needed.

So South takes the heart ace and plays another club. West takes his club winner and cashes the heart king, but that is all he can take. Declarer can ruff a small club high in hand after taking dummy’s diamond king. He ends up in dummy after cashing three rounds of trumps, and he can then discard both diamond losers on the two established club winners.

This line needs the trump break, but that’s better odds than a finesse.



Everyone ought to have a way to support their partner’s major and set up a forcing auction. It may not be the only way to do so, but the simplest approach is to use the response of two no-trump to a major as a forcing raise. In response, opener shows shortness, jumps to game with a balanced minimum, rebids his major or three no-trump with extras, or bids a strong five-card side suit at the four level.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ A J 9 8 6
 A Q
 K 7 6 3
♣ 5 2
South West North East
  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 2018. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, November 15th, 2018

He calls his extravagance generosity; and his trusting everybody, universal benevolence.

Oliver Goldsmith


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

*Game-forcing

♠5

In today’s deal from the annals of the Dyspeptics Club, four spades seems like a very good contract, doesn’t it? Indeed, there would appear to be 10 top tricks in the form of nine side winners and a ruff in dummy.

However, West found the best start for the defense when he hit upon the spade-five lead. Dummy played low, and declarer won cheaply in hand. He unblocked clubs and led a low heart from hand, won the trump return with the ace, finding the bad break in trumps, then cashed the club ace to pitch his diamond loser, and led a second heart. East thoughtfully ducked his ace, and West won the trick to play a third trump. Now declarer was left with two inevitable heart losers at the end.

North pointed out that South had needed to be less mean and more forward-looking.

Say South wins the opening lead with the trump eight or higher. As before, he can judge that he has nine top tricks and he should hope the 10th will come from either a heart ruff or a long club.

Again, declarer cashes the club king and leads a heart, but this time, when West wins and leads a second trump, dummy’s seven will win the trick. (If East can cover the seven spades will be breaking, hearts will break, and there will be a heart ruff in dummy.) Then South takes the club ace, ruffs a club high, leads a spade to the ace, ruffs another club, and crosses to the diamond ace to cash the long club for his 10th trick.



Since your partner will often be obliged to rebid two hearts on a five-card suit here, you cannot guarantee an eight-card fit. It feels right to make a non-forcing call of two no-trump rather than raising to three hearts. You are likely to be able to get back to hearts if that is where you belong.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ A 7 3
 6 4
 A 8 4
♣ K 7 6 4 3
South West North East
  Pass 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 2018. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.