Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Saturday, January 28th, 2017

Few things are brought to a successful issue by impetuous desire, but most by calm and prudent forethought.

Thucydides


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

♣J

After three passes, both Souths in a team game had no ambitions beyond game facing a passing partner, so they opened and closed the auction with a call of three no-trump. This normally shows a solid seven-card minor and few high cards in the other suits. But third or fourth in hand, other considerations apply.

At both tables the opening lead was the club jack, won by South’s ace. One declarer led out diamonds from the top, then played a third diamond to East’s queen. East appreciated that the most likely chance of defeating the game lay in hearts, and returned the three. South rose with the king, captured by the ace, and West continued with the heart jack, so the defenders emerged with five tricks. It wouldn’t have helped if South had divined to play low on the first heart.

The second declarer worked out the necessity to keep East off lead, so he entered dummy with a spade and led a diamond. When East played low, he inserted the nine as a form of a safety play. He was prepared to invest a diamond trick to achieve the avoidance play he wanted.

West won with his jack, but could not attack hearts profitably from his side of the table. He returned a club, and South soon wrapped up 11 tricks. It would not have helped if East had put up the queen or 10 of diamonds. South would have won in hand, then returned to dummy and finessed again – and now he emerges with 12 tricks.



It is sensible to play an artificial negative on this auction (whether you play that as two hearts or two no-trump is up to you). But even if you play three clubs as natural and game-forcing, you should bid four clubs with this hand, setting clubs as trump and showing at least a sliver of slam interest. Let partner take it from there.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ A K 7 2
 9 6 5
 7 6
♣ K 8 6 4
South West North East
  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 2017. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, January 27th, 2017

Wherefore thou be wise, Cleave ever to the sunnier side of doubt.

Lord Tennyson


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

7

The textbooks don’t tend to spell out how to cope with a balanced 31-count. In an unopposed auction the use of the Kokish relay (using a two heart rebid after opening two clubs as a puppet to two spades, to show various balanced hands or unbalanced hands with hearts) may help you. Details are available at
www.bridgeguys.com/Conventions/kokish_relays.html.

But on today’s deal South couldn’t try out this gadget, because West opened three clubs. With no idea whether to go high or low, South put on his rose-colored glasses and found the delicate slam-try of six no-trump.

After the passive lead of the diamond seven, dummy’s spade king provided declarer with a sporting chance. There were 11 top winners, with the club finesse likely to be a broken reed after West’s pre-emptive opening. Similarly, the chances of finding either major suit breaking seemed slim.

South tried these possibilities in order. Neither major suit behaved, and when the club finesse failed, he was out of chances. In the ending East knew to discard his useless spade, to win the last trick with his heart jack.

A curious line of play would, however, have led to success. Suppose that at trick two, declarer had advanced the club queen from his hand? By surrendering the inevitable club loser early, he keeps control of the clubs and rectifies the count for a squeeze. Four diamonds and the club ace will squeeze East in the majors to generate the 12th trick.



Facing an opening bid in any seat except fourth, you would be tempted to jump raise spades, trying to keep the opponents out. Here, partner is marked with a strong hand, so a simple raise to two spades may keep the opponents out, and might also prevent partner from getting too excited.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ K 7 5 2
 8 6 4
 10 8 5
♣ 7 3 2
South West North East
      Pass
Pass Pass 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 2017. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, January 26th, 2017

None but the well-bred man knows how to confess a fault, or acknowledge himself in an error.

Benjamin Franklin


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

♠J

Reading through the columns of the late Omar Sharif I spotted this confession from the Macallan Invitation Pairs tournament. Omar played this board against Nicola Smith and Pat Davies, who eventually finished second – probably the best performance by a Ladies Pair in any invitation pairs event.

Against three no-trump Smith led the spade jack, ducked to Omar’s king. Sharif led a club to the ace, and a second club. Smith ducked this trick, and took the next club as Davies pitched two spades. At this point it was obvious to West to switch to a heart, and that defeated the hand.

It was only later that declarer realized what he could have done. If he crosses to dummy with a diamond at trick two, to play a club to the jack, it would have been nearly impossible to duck this trick. Now the shift to a heart would have been that much more difficult, since West would not have seen a discard from her partner.

By contrast, when I declared three no-trump against Sabine Auken and Daniela von Arnim, I received the same spade lead, but Auken astutely won her ace and shifted to hearts.

I won the third round of hearts, and decided that East appeared to have nine cards in the majors, which made her partner more likely to have club length. So I crossed to hand with a spade, to run the club jack. I repeated the finesse in that suit, and now could pick up the clubs for five tricks, to make my contract.



This is tricky, since many play two-level responses in a new suit here as non-forcing. But if you redouble you can next bid spades, no matter how many hearts the opponents bid. Equally, a jump to two no-trump shows a limit raise or better. Even though that normally shows four trump, your unbalanced hand makes that action sensible. A splinter jump to four hearts would guarantee four trump.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ K Q 3
 10
 K 7 5 3
♣ K J 10 8 6
South West North East
  Pass 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 2017. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Wednesday, January 25th, 2017

Men are so simple and yield so readily to the desires of the moment that he who will trick will always find another who will suffer to be tricked.

Niccolo Machiavelli


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

*Minors

10

The deceptive possibilities arising from letting go a nine or a 10 at the strategic moment seem virtually limitless. On the following hand the maneuver was a well-tried one, but it scored a goal nonetheless.

After a heart lead to the ace, East had to find a diamond shift to beat the contract legitimately. Instead he played the normal-looking spade, which declarer won to lead a club to the jack. To created possible confusion for declarer, East dropped the club nine, trying to look like a man with the doubleton 10-9 of trumps.

It worked – though it probably should not have done. When you play at the US national championships it is a fair assumption that your opponents did not leave the farm earlier that day…

Seduced by the sight of the nine, declarer crossed to hand with a top spade and advanced the club queen, to the king and ace. Now declarer cashed the heart queen and led a low diamond. East hopped up with the diamond king, cashed the club 10 and played a third spade. Declarer could ruff in dummy, but was left with a diamond and heart still to lose.

It might seem that even after the trump misguess, South could have recovered. But declarer could not have succeeded even if she had left the heart queen in dummy as an entry to the diamonds. The defense play spades at every opportunity, and the heart blockage leaves her with a diamond loser at the end.



This hand is worth a raise to three hearts, since your trump honors are working overtime, and your side-suit pattern offers partner the chance to develop tricks in many different ways. The knowledge that your partner has six hearts helps you evaluate your hand positively.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ 10 7
 Q J
 Q 10 5 4 3
♣ A J 8 3
South West North East
  Pass 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 2017. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, January 24th, 2017

You cannot fight against the future. Time is on our side.

William Ewart Gladstone


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

2

North-South cards might reasonably have played three no-trump here. This is a contract that makes if diamonds are 4-4 or if, as here, the player on lead has an unattractive three-card holding.

But at the table South showed a very strong hand with extra playing strength in hearts, by jumping to three no-trump. Had he held a strong balanced hand with a five-card suit in the 18-19 range, he would simply have bid two no-trump, so this sequence showed real extra playing strength. North guessed to convert to four hearts, a contract that looks very unlikely to make on accurate defense.

As it turned out, though, the 2-2 trump break gave declarer some interesting chances, based on the fact that both black suits are frozen — neither side can play on them without losing a trick.

Against four hearts West led a trump, not a bad move, as either black suit would have been immediately fatal, and declarer won to play a diamond. The defenders elected to win and play a second heart. When trumps broke, a second diamond saw whichever defender won the trick having to decide between opening up a black suit or play a diamond.

Since leading either black suit would have conceded the 10th trick, the defenders accurately played a third diamond. South ruffed, and played ace, king and a third spade. East had to win this trick, and now had to open up the clubs. South ran the lead round to the queen in dummy, and claimed the rest.


A call of one heart here shows extras, more than a simple overcall of one heart would have promised. But your hand is far better than that. It is arguable that a jump to two hearts doesn’t do your hand justice, but that alternative of cuebidding two clubs then bidding hearts might set up a game force. So the jump to two hearts will have to do.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ A K 9
 A K J 10 8 4
 6 3
♣ A 10
South West North East
  1 ♣ Pass Pass
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 2017. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, January 23rd, 2017

Our watchword is security.

William Pitt Sr.


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

*preemptive

♣Q

At matchpoint pairs it is often very hard to determine if you are in a normal contract, or an unusual one. In a standard contract, it is normal pairs tactics to consider playing for the maximum number of tricks. If you go down, you can at least console yourself that you were following a sensible strategy.

By contrast, at rubber bridge or at teams you want to follow the safest line for your contract, and as a defender you look for the guaranteed way to defeat a contract. That means the number of overtricks or undertricks is less important than beating or making the contract.

Today’s deal is a classic example. After North produced a jump raise of spades – which according to his partnership agreement was preemptive – South found himself in game. West had no reason not to lead the club queen, and South won the first trick and had to formulate a plan.

The obvious thing to do is to ruff clubs in dummy. Declarer trumped a club, led a diamond to the ace, and ruffed another club low. Then came the question of how to get back to hand: declarer chose the safest line of leading a heart to the ace, and ruffed the fourth club high. East could choose whether to discard or overruff, but declarer was sure to score four more trump tricks and make his contract.

Had declarer finessed in hearts, West would have won his king and sunk the contract by shifting to trump, to kill the third club ruff.


While it might be right to cash club winners before they go away, a trump lead is surely the favorite here, since declarer will be planning to ruff spades in dummy. If dummy goes down with three or four small diamonds, the low trump will likely work better than the queen. This is a close call, since West seems to be much stronger than East.

LEAD WITH THE ACES

♠ J 5 3
 K 8 7 5 3
 Q 7
♣ 10 8 3
South West North East
  1 Dbl. 1 ♠
Pass 1 NT Pass 2
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 2017. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, January 22nd, 2017

What is your opinion as to how to deal with a hand with a five-card major and a weak suit, such as ♠ A-K-2, K-J-9-7-4, 9-4-3, ♣ A-J? I elected to open one no-trump and when my RHO balanced into two clubs I tried two hearts, which was not a success. Once I had concealed my five-carder on opening bid, should I leave it dead and buried?

Hidden Depths, Bay City, Mich.

Your initial call was on the money; anything but a one notrump opener will leave you very poorly paced at the next turn. After intervention, you cannot be crimed for introducing your long suit at what seemed to be a convenient level. Sometimes the road to hell is paved with good intentions and well-judged calls.

Could you clarify a point for me about opener’s rebids, if playing 2/1 as game-forcing? Does a reverse at the two-level by opener or a new suit at the three-level guarantee extra values or extra shape?

Rapid Response, Newport News, Va.

I believe (though it is by no means unanimous) that for a sequence such as one spade – two hearts – three clubs opener will not hold a minimum opening bid with 5-4 pattern. Occasionally that requires opener to repeat a relatively feeble major, or bid no-trump when he would rather not do so. I think that is a perfectly reasonable trade off.

One of the very strong pairs in our area seldom bid close games or slams, at Matchpoints Pairs, if they judge the field will not be bidding it. They want to be down the middle in the same contract as the field, and then outplay them. For strong card players, it seems to work out well. What do you think of this approach?

Boondocks, New Smyrna Beach, Fla.

I don’t think I agree with such pessimism. I will say bidding grand slams at the club should require you to count 13 tricks. And inviting games (especially at no-trump) and risking the plus score is something to be considered very carefully. That said, I think you try to bid your hand and let the chips fall where they may.

Recently you ran a deal where responder to an opening bid of two clubs had an ace and five spades to the king-jack. What is your view on the minimum suit quality required for a positive response – and does it matter whether you make that response at the two or three level?

Waiting for Godot, Augusta, Maine

After a two club opener, the modern style is for suit responses to promise a decent five card or longer suit. A response of two diamonds is thus consistent with a bad hand, or one with values but no long suit worth bidding. For me, a two heart response could be headed by something like the kingjack, if I have positive values, since I’m not preempting my partner’s next call. The same basically applies for a two spade call — though the higher you go, the more you need in the suit.

Recently you analyzed the options for a passed hand with a chunky five-card heart suit of A-J-10-3-2. He responded one heart to one club and heard his partner rebid one spade. You suggested that a rebid by responder in hearts would have implied a six-carder. Is that likely if he didn’t open a weak two?

Seconds Out, Manchester, N.H.

Responder’s suit-rebid guarantees six cards, or a five-card suit playable facing a singleton. A-J-10-8-2 might almost be enough; but remember that since a weak-two bid guarantees a certain strength within the suit, there are plenty of six-card suits you wouldn’t open but might want to bid and rebid after passing.


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 2017. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Saturday, January 21st, 2017

Without leaps of imagination or dreaming, we lose the excitement of possibilities. Dreaming, after all is a form of planning.

Gloria Steinem


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

♠K

On this 1997 deal from the Cap Gemini tournament North comes home in five diamonds easily enough, by ruffing spades in dummy. However, at one table Marc Bompis declared three no-trump by North, after East-West had bid spades.

If the defense lead a spade to the queen and a spade back, declarer may not get a spade trick — but he can set up the diamonds while keeping West off play. However Gabriel Chagas and Marcello Branco found an ingenious variation. Branco led the spade ace and followed up with the spade 10, and Chagas ducked this!

Now Bompis had his spade trick, but declarer could no longer give up a diamond trick without letting the defenders cash out. He tested diamonds, then tried the heart finesse and went two down.

Finally, Alain Levy played four hearts, by South, against which Tor Helness led the spade king. At trick two he correctly switched to a club, and Levy won the ace and ruffed a spade. Then he played a club to the king and ruffed a club, took the diamond ace and played a fourth spade, overruffing East’s eight with the jack, and cashed just one top heart.

With eight tricks in the bag he now led a diamond from hand. Helness was forced to ruff, but whatever he did next, declarer would make his remaining small trump now, or later.

Have you noticed that there WAS a defense to beat the contract? East could have overtaken the spade lead and played a trump, to kill the club ruff in dummy.


You have enough to bid game, not just invite it. A popular convention dealing with opposition intervention over your no-trump is called Lebensohl. There are many versions, but ‘Fast Denies’ (https://www.larryco.com/bridge-learning-center/detail/541) would suggest you bid three no-trump yourself, a call suggesting the values for the no-trump game, without four spades, and without a heart stopper.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ A 10 9
 8 6
 Q 9 7
♣ Q J 9 6 2
South West North East
  Pass 1 NT 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 2017. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, January 20th, 2017

No man chooses evil because it is evil; he only mistakes it for happiness, the good he seeks.

Mary Wollstonecraft


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

*Artificial negative

10

In the 1998 Cap Gemini, Tony Forrester and Zia Mahmood went into a huge lead early on. But it had been whittled away, when this board appeared in the final match.

When the second-placed pair reached three no-trump, West led the heart jack in response to his partner’s opening bid. Declarer won with the king and misguessed the clubs. Back came the heart nine, ducked all round, and that was followed by a diamond to the king. Now the defense was ahead in the race to establish their long suit, and declarer had only eight tricks.

Here, though, the opening bid was a nebulous club, and the one diamond response an artificial negative, after which everything was natural. Krzysztof Martens led the diamond 10 to the king, East unblocking the queen.

Tony Forrester naturally cashed the club ace and led to his jack. He ducked the diamond continuation, throwing a heart from dummy, to leave East on play.

Now Marek Szymanowski made the natural play of switching to the spade queen, and Forrester won his king. He cashed the diamond ace, discarding another heart, and took his winning clubs. This reduced everyone down to five cards. Szymanowski had to keep three hearts, so just two spades. Forrester could now lead a spade, win the heart return with the ace and play a spade, to win the last two tricks.

Had East shifted to a heart at trick six, the results of the top two pairs would have been reversed.



Responder at his second turn typically has ways to invite game and to drive to game in opener’s suit – but nothing in between. With this hand you either have to raise clubs invitationally or use fourth suit forcing and force to game. I go for the invitational raise to three clubs, conscious that this is a slight underbid.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ 9 8 3
 A 8 7 6 3
 K
♣ A 9 8 6
South West North East
  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 2017. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, January 19th, 2017

Have no truck with first impulses as they are always generous ones.

Comte de Montrond


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

*two plus clubs

♠2

At the Cap Gemini tournament in 1998 one of the contending pairs were Krzysztof Martens and Marek Szymanowski of Poland. Szymanowski is a very tricky opponent, and he produced an excellent false-card against the Hacketts.

After Szymanowski had opened a Polish Club with the East cards, showing clubs or a balanced hand in the 12-14 range, possibly with as few as two clubs, Jason Hackett elected to overcall a strong no-trump, suppressing his five-card major.

As a result he found himself in two no-trump, when his partner Justin Hackett produced an invitational sequence via Stayman. Martens did well to lead spades, the two suggesting a four-card suit, and declarer won the opening lead and played a heart to the nine — and Szymanowski took it with the king!

Then East cleared the spades, and Jason, not unnaturally, repeated the finesse in hearts, allowing the defense a second heart trick. Together with two spade winners and three diamond tricks, that meant two off. Note that if Szymanowski wins the heart jack at trick two, declarer uses dummy’s spade entry to finesse East out of the heart king, and makes eight tricks in comfort.

In retrospect, you might ask yourself if declarer was right to fall for the false-card. Declarer knows East has four spades; the only time the finesse would be necessary is if declarer had eight cards in the minors – which would have to be a 4=1=3=5 pattern or East would have opened one diamond. You make the call!


Had East not responded, the range of your no-trump call would be wide. Your partner’s bid would be a gametry, showing extras and long clubs, and you’d be tempted to bid on, perhaps by raising clubs. As it is, you have shown 7-10 already, and I think his two club call suggests an alternative strain, perhaps with extra shape, not high cards. With a minimum, I would simply pass now.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ K 9 7
 Q 10 9
 Q 5 4 3
♣ J 8 7
South West North East
  1 Dbl. 1 ♠
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 2017. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.