Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Wednesday, March 27th, 2019

Never buy what you do not want, because it is cheap; it will be dear to you.

Thomas Jefferson


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

*Two places to play

♣Q

Gone are the days when South would buy the hand in two spades here. West’s shape outweighs his minimum values when it comes to protecting; if the opponents stop in two spades, he must balance and try to push them up or find a making part-score for his side. Similarly, North’s fourth trump persuades him take the push to three spades; then it is up to South to justify his partner’s confidence in him.

Declarer ducks the opening club lead, wins the next club in dummy with the ace and takes the trump ace and king, then ruffs a club to dummy and leads a heart to hand.

Since West has short spades, South assumes he must have a three-suited hand with no other shortage. Equally, though, he cannot have both missing top diamonds, or he would have doubled one spade.

South must hope East does not have the diamond queen. With no other information to go on, declarer might have led a diamond to the 10, but not today, since West surely cannot hold precisely a doubleton diamond queen. Instead, South leads the diamond jack from his hand. West must cover, or declarer will be out of the woods. Declarer puts up the king, and East takes his ace, then cashes his master trump and plays on hearts. South ruffs the third round and must now bring in all the remaining diamonds to make his game.

Since West has diamond length, it must be right now to lead a diamond to the eight, finessing against the nine. When the finesse succeeds, declarer is home.



With prime support and decent values, albeit no aces, you want to tell your partner about this as soon as possible so he can judge how to explore for slam. The best way would be to bid three spades immediately. In any auction where a simple call in spades would be natural and forcing, a jump is a splinter, showing short spades and heart support.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ J
 K 9 4
 Q 9 7 4 2
♣ Q J 10 6
South West North East
    2 ♣ Pass
2 Pass 2 Pass
?      

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

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, March 26th, 2019

He always liked to have the morning well-aired before he got up.

Charles Macfarlane (on Beau Brummell)


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

♠4

Today’s deal sees North with enough values to drive to game facing a one-heart opening bid. Since he has a full opener and primary heart support, he starts by responding two diamonds, then jumps to four hearts to suggest a minimum game force and no slam interest.

Digressing for a moment, these aren’t my preferred methods. I’d like a jump to four hearts to be concentrated in the red suits with no controls in the black suits — but that isn’t a majority style.

Anyway, all routes lead to four hearts, and declarer should probably duck the initial spade lead, hoping to cut the defenders’ communications in spades if the suit is originally 5-2. He wins the next spade and plays a diamond to the king. When West gives count in diamonds East ducks the first round of that suit. Declarer now draws trumps in three rounds, then leads a second diamond. Regardless of which diamond declarer plays from dummy, East wins cheaply and returns a club. That lets declarer win in hand and play a third diamond. Now, since East has no spades left to lead, he must concede the rest after winning his second diamond trick.

If declarer makes the mistake of winning the first trick, the defenders will come to four tricks sooner or later. While there are lies of the cards where winning the first trick is necessary, they are few and far between: An original 5-2 spade break with the diamond honors misplaced is far more likely than that.



All three possible solutions to this problem are somewhat flawed. You could show your hand-type by rebidding one no-trump, even if the absence of a spade stopper is disconcerting. You could rebid your diamonds, falsely implying six; to some extent, your intermediates compensate for this. Or you could rebid two hearts, for which you are a heart short. The diamond rebid may be the least of all evils.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ 9 7 3
 K 10 5
 K Q 10 5 4
♣ A 8
South West North East
1 1 ♠ 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: Monday, March 25th, 2019

Finally I am becoming stupider no more.

Paul Erdos (suggested epitaph for himself)


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

K

When North raises his partner’s spades, South does not want to commit the hand to four spades without contemplating three no-trump first. He bids three clubs in the hope that his partner can bid three no-trump, then raises himself to four spades when North signs off. It would be too hard to land on the head of a pin and pass three spades.

The defenders have no reason to do anything but lead three rounds of diamonds. Cover up the East-West cards and decide how you would play the hand as South.

It certainly looks as if you can play on clubs via a finesse or perhaps try to duck a club to West, and force a favorable lead from him. However, even if the club king is offside, which you expect from the fact that West made a simple overcall rather than a weak jump, you have excellent chances for 10 tricks, as long as you are careful.

You ruff the third diamond and play the ace and king of trumps, planning to eliminate hearts and throw West in with the fourth diamond if trumps break. When they do not, you ruff out the heart and play the spade queen. If West comes down to just one diamond and three clubs, you endplay him with the fourth diamond, pitching a club from hand. If he keeps two diamonds and two clubs, you play the ace and another club, and your hand is high.

The defense can prevail, but only if East ruffs the second round of diamonds to play clubs — and who would do that?



You do have an unbid suit to lead, diamonds, but your partner failed to overcall, so you would need a bit of luck to be able to set that suit up for three tricks. I think there is more of a future in spades. Since your left-hand opponent did not raise the suit and his partner did not try to extract support from him, there is a decent chance of finding your partner with length here. I’d lead a low spade, not an intermediate, for sure.

LEAD WITH THE ACES

♠ Q 10 9 3
 A 10
 6 4 3 2
♣ 6 4 2
South West North East
  1 ♣ Pass 1 ♠
Pass 3 ♣ 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, March 24th, 2019

Up to what level of opening bid should we play penalty doubles of our opponents’ no-trump opening — and what ranges should we treat as a strong no-trump? What methods would you recommend we play if either side removes the double?

Baker’s Dozen, Spartanburg, S.C.

Any no-trump that includes a 13-count should be treated as weak (and you might also double third-seat no-trump openers by those playing strong clubs). If you double a weak no-trump, you can pretend your partner opened one no-trump. Play Stayman and transfers if you bid. Deal with the opponents’ runouts as if they had overcalled your partner’s no-trump opener.

In second seat, I picked up ♠ 5-2,  A-K-7-6-4-3,  A-3, ♣ J-8-3 and opened one heart. When my partner jumped to four clubs, showing a singleton club and game values, did I have enough to cue-bid four diamonds, or should I have signed off in four hearts?

Raising the Roof, Columbus, Ohio

With real extras, you would normally cue-bid four diamonds, expecting your partner to sign off without a spade control. If you bid four hearts, the auction will be over, of course. In this auction, the four-diamond call might lead partner to do too much if he has the spade ace but a minimum; however, I think the combination of your sixth trump and third-round controls in both diamonds and spades require you to do it.

I am a very rusty life master (I haven’t played more than 10 times in the last 20 years) who just retired in August. A recent deal of yours saw an opener act with ♠ K-J-4,  K-J-3-2,  Q-3-2, ♣ Q-9-3, but I count only 12 high-card points and seven losers, with no quick tricks and no five-card suit. Is this really an advisable opening bid?

Back in the Saddle, Albuquerque, N. M.

I absolutely agree this isn’t a great opening bid! Non-vulnerable at matchpoints, there may be more to be gained by bidding than passing, but should you open? I’m not sure. If playing a 15-17 no-trump, where a no-trump rebid shows 12-14, you aren’t far off base. But you could sell me on passing if your other option is to open a suit you don’t want partner to lead or raise!

What would be the best use for transferring into a major, then bidding a minor? Do the same rules apply after a two no-trump as after a one no-trump opener?

Down Under, Sydney, Australia

These unopposed transfer auctions show a second suit, are game forcing and imply doubt about strain or level. That means you either have slam interest (you will always have slam interest in the two no-trump sequences) or are worried no-trump might not be right. So without any slam interest — say 9-13 high-card points — and with a 5-4 pattern, you might ignore the minor over a one no-trump opener, unless you have a small side-suit singleton.

I was the opener and passed with ♠ Q-7-4,  Q-7-5-2,  K-8-3, ♣ Q-J-6. Around the table, I heard my lef-thand opponent open one club and my partner bid one heart, with a negative double showing four spades to my right. What is the right plan of campaign my hand now?

Plain Sailing, Waterbury, Conn.

A redouble by you would suggest values, the unbid suit and at least tolerance for partner, not real support as here. Your soft values really do not suggest you have enough for a cue-bid raise. Despite your fourth trump, you might simply raise to two hearts and compete again to three hearts if the subsequent auction suggests that is appropriate.


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, March 23rd, 2019

More brain, O Lord, more brain!
Or we shall mar
Utterly this fine garden we might
win.

George Meredith


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

♣K

At the U.S. National tournament in Philadelphia last March, Sunday’s A/X Swiss Teams saw a match between the Sonsini and van Overbeeke squads. This resulted in an all-Dutch cast at one of the two tables. East-West were Bauke Muller and Simon De Wijs, while North-South were Maarten Schollaardt and Tom van Overbeeke.

In today’s deal, no game looks very promising, but in four spades declarer was lucky to find clubs blocked. On opening lead, De Wijs cashed the club ace-king, then played a diamond. (A trump is no better.) Now declarer pitched his club on dummy’s top hearts, ruffed a heart low in hand, then ruffed a diamond in dummy and ruffed a club high in hand as West pitched a diamond.

Now came a second diamond ruff and a second club ruff high (West underruffing), to reduce to a three-card ending where declarer had the Q-10 of trumps and the diamond queen left. Van Overbeeke led the diamond queen, forcing West to ruff and lead a trump into his tenace to concede the contract.

Perhaps West should have underruffed twice and unblocked the diamond king (in the hope that his partner had the diamond queen), but as the cards lay, the defenders could not get out of their own way. Give East the diamond king, and the double underruff would set the game.

Since three no-trump went down three in the other room, that was a huge swing to the van Overbeeke team.



The simplest option is to raise diamonds via a cue-bid, but I think it is slightly superior to start with a double. Your plan is to raise diamonds to the appropriate level at your next turn, while letting your partner know you have four spades. You do not want to play in spades unless your partner can voluntarily introduce that suit, but if he has four, you want to let him know about the fit.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ J 9 7 2
 7 6 4
 K J 8 5
♣ A K
South West North East
  1 ♣ 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 2019. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, March 22nd, 2019

Guides cannot master the subtleties of the American joke.

Mark Twain


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

♣6

At the Spring National tournament a year ago in Philadelphia, players came from all around the world to compete in the major events. The Vanderbilt Teams Trophy these days is roughly equivalent to a world championship, and the last eight teams could probably hold their own against most national teams.

This was a very nicely played deal by Tarek Sadek, a long-time regular on the Egyptian team, who had done well to reach the only playable slam on the North-South cards.

West accurately led a club; the lead of the six went to the king and ace. How would you have defended as East now? At the table, East returned the club jack. When given a chance to make his slam, Sadek made no mistake. The critical play was to pitch the spade jack from his hand at trick two, then ruff a small spade in hand. He could go back to the heart ace to ruff a second spade in his hand, then draw trumps and go to the diamond ace to run spades.

In fact, the defenders had two chances to beat the slam after the club lead. East could have removed a critical entry to dummy by playing either red suit, after which declarer would no longer be able to ruff out the spades. After a diamond shift (the best play, to remove the side entry to dummy), declarer could either play to ruff a diamond in dummy or for a spade finesse, allied to some additional squeeze chances. However, today, every line would fail.



If you felt that this hand was too good for a raise to two spades (which you might do without the club ace) but not good enough for a limit raise or a redouble — when you might get pre-empted — you are right. Modern science offers two solutions, the complex one being transfers after a double of a major suit. The simpler path is to subvert a two-club call to show three trumps and 7-10 high-card points.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ K 10 3
 8 4
 J 8 7
♣ A J 10 9 3
South West North East
    1 ♠ 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 2019. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, March 21st, 2019

The bell never rings of itself; unless someone handles or moves it, it is dumb.

Plautus


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

♣5

When this deal originally appeared at the U.S. National tournament held in Philadelphia last year, it was called “Campanologist’s Delight.”

The author indicated that readers of bridge columns are always either advantaged or handicapped — depending on how you look at it — by the bell going off. When faced with a problem, the reader is always led to the critical decision and thus imperceptibly biased in his thought process. He is unable to play as he would have played if he had not been warned he was at the crossroads.

With that in mind, let us look at this deal from the second final session of the Rockwell Mixed Pairs. You sit East, and against three no-trump your partner leads a fourth-highest club five. You are allowed to win the queen and can see nothing better than to return the suit. Your partner wins the ace and returns the seven to clear the suit. Declarer wins the club jack and advances the diamond queen. Do you win or duck — and if you win, what do you return?

Answer: It doesn’t matter, because you can no longer beat three no-trump! If you failed to play the club 10 at trick one, you won’t beat the game. Your partner either has jack-sixth of clubs, in which case your play doesn’t matter at all, or his actual holding. If the latter, you want to persuade declarer to take his jack at the first trick, after which clubs will be ready to run.

Declarer can survive by not winning the club jack, but will he? I think not!



Don’t get carried away yet. Your partner could still have three small spades and a Yarborough! You have already shown a good hand, and the question is whether to show a strong balanced hand with a call of one (or two) no-trump or to raise spades to the two- or three-level. I’m not convinced that anything more than a cue-bid raise to two diamonds is called for.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ A K Q J 5
 K 5 2
 A 9 6
♣ K 9
South West North East
  1 Pass 1
Dbl. 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 2019. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Wednesday, March 20th, 2019

Misled by fancy’s meteor ray.

Robert Burns


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

*Invitational values, either in
  clubs or balanced

♠9

From the Silodor Open Pairs in Philadelphia last year, this challenge for both declarer and the defense saw Simon Cope and Peter Crouch, the eventual winners of the event, emerge on top.

In three no-trump after the spade nine lead, Crouch discouraged, perhaps suggesting he had the heart king. Declarer won the queen and decided that the right approach was to start with the club finesse. So he played the club king and a club to the jack, which held. Relieved, declarer could take the diamond finesse, thinking that if it lost to the diamond queen, he could reassess what to do.

To his pleasure, the diamond jack won as well. Declarer could now lead a heart to the ace, and rather than cashing the club ace (which would have squeezed his hand), he played a second diamond. He planned to score two spades, one heart, four diamonds and two clubs.

However, he was shocked when East showed out, and his plans collapsed; ducking the first diamond was very nice defense by Cope (West).

As usual, with the sight of all four hands, South can do much better; indeed, three no-trump is cold. Admittedly, though, you need to make the inspired move of laying down the diamond king at trick two — not obvious by any means! If the defenders win the first or second diamond, you set up diamonds using the club reentry to your hand. If they duck twice, you play on clubs and take four tricks there.



There may appear to be three conceivable actions here (bidding either red suit or no-trump), but in practice, one of these actions is verboten. To bid two hearts — a higher suit than your opening bid, at the two-level — shows real extras; this is defined as a reverse. Since a two-diamond rebid typically shows six trumps, the rebid of one no-trump is comfortably the best option, to show a balanced 12-14 points.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ A Q
 10 9 7 4
 K J 10 9 8
♣ K 5
South West North East
1 Pass 1 ♠ Pass
?      

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

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, March 19th, 2019

A lifetime of happiness! No man alive could bear it: It would be hell on earth.

George Bernard Shaw


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

K

Neil Silverman and Robert Lebi have each represented their countries, the U.S. and Canada, respectively, but they were playing together in Philadelphia last spring. Here, Silverman had an opportunity to test his skills after Lebi had shown a distributional raise in hearts by his jump to three hearts at his first turn. Modern expert technique is tending to an approach in which most limit raises start with a cue-bid. Accordingly, the jump raise has morphed over the years from a forcing raise to a limit raise to a pre-emptive raise. These days, though, many use the jump raise as somewhere between a limit raise and a pre-emptive raise.

Silverman bid on to five hearts over five diamonds. After the lead of the diamond king, East went up with the ace, planning to continue the attack on diamonds. Declarer ruffed and led the club 10 from hand (just in case) to dummy’s queen. When that held, he ran the heart queen, covered all around, then drove out the club ace. West now played a second diamond, and Silverman pitched a club from hand, leaving the defense helpless. Whoever won the diamond would have to lead a spade or diamond. Declarer could ruff the diamond in dummy and pitch a spade from hand, then advance the heart nine and bring hearts in for no loser.

If East had been able to win the second diamond, declarer could have adopted the same approach, but would have needed the spade finesse to work.



You have a relatively simple decision here. Your partner has clubs and spades and has indirectly limited his hand by his failure to jump to two spades. But he could certainly have 17 high-card points and a 5-4 pattern, for example. Does that mean you should pass? With three working honors in the black suits, I think the hand is just worth a raise to two spades. If partner had opened one diamond, I might pass now.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ Q J 9 5
 Q 9 5 2
 6 4
♣ Q 7 4
South West North East
    1 ♣ Pass
1 Pass 1 ♠ Pass
?      

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

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, March 18th, 2019

When I consider life, ‘tis all a cheat.

John Dryden


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

*Spades

♣4

These days in almost every auction where the opponents bid or double, it is possible for responder to play transfers — and today’s deal from the Silodor Open Pairs in Philadelphia last year was no exception. The auction might have developed in a similar fashion, with South declaring three diamonds, if West had made a pre-emptive jump to two spades, but his initial call of two hearts showed six spades of indeterminate range.

The question of how many tricks South would emerge with in three diamonds had a slightly surprising answer, though. You’d expect West to lead a doubleton club and South to take East’s queen, draw trumps in two rounds, then set up a club for the ninth trick.

Instead, East managed to throw an intriguing diversion at the first trick when he played the club king, trying to suggest a different lie of that suit to declarer.

It worked to perfection! South was now sure West had three clubs and six spades, and clearly at least three hearts from the bidding. So she drew just one round of trumps with the ace and played a second club. East won the queen and could have played for the spade ruff, but that would have produced only four tricks. Instead, he cashed the heart king as West gave count, then played a third club. Declarer guessed to discard a spade, and West ruffed in with the jack and played the spade ace and a second spade to give partner the ruff and set the hand.



Your goal here should be to keep declarer from scoring cheap tricks with his small clubs. Lead the diamond jack in an attempt to build discards for yourself, so you can pitch spades and overruff your right-hand opponent. (Even if partner had opened one heart rather than one spade, I would lead the diamond jack.)

LEAD WITH THE ACES

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