Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, June 2nd, 2016

Man, of all the animals, is probably the only one to regard himself as a great delicacy.

Jacques Yves Cousteau


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

*Two kings or one ace

**Transfer to hearts

♠J

The target in today’s deal is to reach the heart slam, and then to make it.

Control-showing responses to the two club opener fortuitously get South to be declarer in slam after North shows a balanced 22-24 then jumps to four hearts over the transfer. This suggests four trump and a non-minimum in context.

In six hearts declarer wins the spade lead with the ace and cashes the heart ace. If trumps break, there are 12 top tricks. But the 4-0 trump division places a real onus of care on South. When West pitches a club, the risk of 5-2 clubs becomes a real one, in which case declarer cannot take a club ruff in dummy with either a high or a low trump without creating a winner for the defenders. Accordingly he must make sure to set up the diamonds to ensure his discard, then play to ruff spades in hand.

At trick three he leads a heart to his 10, then advances the diamond queen. East takes the second diamond and returns a spade. After winning this with dummy’s king, declarer cashes the diamond king, throwing a club from hand.

Now comes a spade ruff in hand, the two top clubs ending in dummy, and declarer has reached a three-card ending in which he can lead the last spade from dummy and leave East with no winning options. If East ruffs in, South overruffs and draws trump. If he discards instead, declarer scores his small heart, and has two high trumps for the last two tricks.


Your partner has set up a forcing auction (had he bid hearts at his second turn that would have been a very good hand – this is a better one). I can’t see three no-trump as being a sensible spot, so I’ll repeat my clubs and cross my fingers we have a fit.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ J 10 9
 —
 10 5 4 3 2
♣ Q 10 8 6 2
South West North East
Pass 1 ♠ Dbl. Pass
2 2 ♠ Dbl. Pass
3 ♣ 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 2016. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Wednesday, June 1st, 2016

Avoid shame but do not seek glory – nothing so expensive as glory.

Sydney Smith


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

♣2

South has an obvious rebid of his strong five-card suit when his partner sets up a two-over-one game force. North should simply raise to game now, assuming the partnership plays that as a minimum hand with no slam interest.

After the fourth highest lead of the club two South doesn’t need to put up dummy’s club queen. If West has the king, South will have a later chance to win with dummy’s queen; and if East has the king, there is certainly no advantage in playing dummy’s queen.

South must go after hearts at once, saving dummy’s trumps as re-entries to his own hand. When dummy’s king wins the first heart trick, South has a convenient way in trumps to get back to his hand for another heart lead. West takes the heart ace, and continues with the club jack. The defenders cash two clubs and now East shifts to a diamond. South wins the diamond ace then leads the spade queen, with the intention of drawing trump with the queen and ace, ending in dummy. If the hearts are then established, all will be well.

However, when the spade 10 appears from the West hand, South can improve on that plan. It is now possible to enter dummy both with the spade ace and also with the eight.

South therefore overtakes the spade queen, ruffs a low heart with a high trump, and leads a low trump to dummy’s eight. South can now cash dummy’s hearts to pitch his diamonds, and make his game.


On auctions of this sort, some people play that even though the auction is game forcing, responder can limit his hand to a minimum response (say 6-8 points) with a call of two no-trump. In the absence of this agreement, simply give preference to three clubs, and let partner describe his hand further.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ 6 5 2
 J 9 7 4
 Q 6 2
♣ K 10 5
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 2016. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, May 31st, 2016

For some cry ‘Quick’ and some cry ‘Slow’.

Alfred Lord Tennyson


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

*Hearts, game forcing

**Shortness

♣J

It often surprises me to see players rush through playing a slam. After all, if you won’t give full consideration to your play in a slam, when will you take the time? In today’s deal declarer gave his contract the respect it deserved, and was rewarded.

When West led the diamond king against seven hearts, declarer realized that he had reached a contract with 13 apparent tricks available – barring a hostile break. At second glance the grand slam seemed to depend on how the trumps divided. If they were 2-2, he could ruff a spade and club in dummy; if 3-1, then clubs might need to be 3-3. That wasn’t good enough, so South returned to his cogitating, and eventually saw that there might be a way home however hearts broke.

He took the club jack in hand, led to dummy’s diamond ace and immediately ruffed a diamond to hand with the four. A trump to dummy disclosed the bad break, and now declarer needed more help from the club suit. He took a diamond ruff with the eight, then cashed the heart ace. Next he led a club to the king and ruffed the fourth diamond with the king, his last trump. A spade to the ace allowed North’s master trumps to take care of West’s last two hearts.

Declarer had the master clubs and spades left, and ended up taking 13 tricks in the form of six plain winners, three diamond ruffs in hand and four trumps in dummy. This approach is most accurately referred to as a dummy reversal.


Your two diamond call set up a game-forcing auction. In any sequence of this sort, your jump to three no-trump shows the equivalent of a strong no-trump. This means that your partner can bid on with real extras in high cards or shape. A call of two no-trump here by you would show a balanced hand, 12-14 or 18+.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ A 8
 Q J 10 2
 A J 6 3
♣ K 7 2
South West North East
    1 ♣ Pass
1 Pass 1 ♠ 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 2016. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, May 30th, 2016

The road to resolution lies by doubt;
The next way home’s the farthest way about.

Francis Quarles


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

♣K

There is certainly a case for South driving his hand to game when his partner produces a free raise of spades. But these days the mantra to support with support has taken hold to such a degree that South might do better to take the slightly cautious approach and ask North whether he has a hand or a foot. North will normally commit to game with either a maximum, in context, or a fitting hand for the majors.

The defenders lead and continue clubs against four spades. South ruffs, and can afford to surrender one trump in addition to the inevitable loss of one club and one heart. South cannot protect himself against a hostile trump break, since he will be forced to ruff clubs at the second trick, and again when he gives up a heart trick. Hence South must look for the best line on the assumption that trumps break 3-2.

Best is to ruff the second club, drive out the heart ace, ruff another club, and then draw two rounds of trump with the ace and king. Now, ignoring the trump queen, declarer runs his heart and diamond winners. West may take his high trump when he pleases, but South has the rest.

Note that at trick six South must not lead to the spade king and take the trump finesse. If he did, he would lose to the queen, and back would come another club. South would have to ruff with his trump ace, and this would set up West’s spade nine as the setting trick.


You have two enticing sequences to lead from. Should you pick one of them, or lead partner’s suit, or even trump? All four options make sense, but I can’t see how there is any rush to lead spades. I can, however see how it might be necessary to go after either red suit at once. I’ll trust partner’s overcall though, and lead hearts; I’ve been wrong before, but rarely through lack of discipline.

LEAD WITH THE ACES

♠ Q J 9 4
 J 6 3
 Q J 10
♣ J 6 4
South West North East
  1 1 Dbl.
2 Pass Pass 3 ♣
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 2016. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, May 29th, 2016

I note that there are auctions where both players only use cuebidding, some where they use Blackwood, and some where there is a mixed strategy. Could you give me some insight as to when one approach wins out over the others?

Merry Andrew, Dover, Del.

The simple answer is that Blackwood is about system, cuebidding about judgment, so the former is easier. You tend to cuebid only when you want partner to cooperate for slam with extras, or (far more commonly) when there is a danger suit, where the partnership can identify that a control in that specific suit is critical to the chances of making slam.

In fourth seat with both sides vulnerable you hold ♠ 10, K-Q, K-J-7-3-2, ♣ A-Q-9-5-3, and hear a two heart call on your right. Would you show the minors, (and if so how?) would you pass, or would you bid one of the minors? I assume double is out of the question?

Noisy Oyster, Dodge City, Kan.

I might well elect to bid one of the minors, rather than show both minors (the only way I could do that would be to bid four no-trump, since a call of two no-trump is strong and natural). There is certainly a case for bidding three clubs, but I’m not especially worried about running into a penalty double. I think bidding three diamonds caters better for further competition in the auction.

I enjoyed the deals you ran from Frank Stewart’s most recent book, but on one hand he overcalled one spade with a bid of two hearts, on a five-card suit and a minimum opener. Do you agree with the overcall? Holding five hearts would suggest a bid of two hearts, but would the possession of two doubleton minor suit queens and four spades to the queen-jack have made one no-trump a better call?

Mayday, Harrisburg, Pa.

I would never overcall one no-trump with a 4-5-2-2 shape, unless the hearts were so weak that I could pretend it was a four-card suit. Yes, passing an opening bid feels wrong here – so long as the hearts are really worth bidding. A one-level overcall needs far less, of course. The vulnerability and position do play a part, though, and a sixth trump would make a huge difference.

Members of our bridge club always seem keen to open two clubs with a strong hand but fewer than 20 HCP, when they have extra shape. The call may or may not be artificial. I have tried to persuade them to keep the forcing call for really good hands, but to no avail. How should I make my case?

Doc Holliday, Waterbury, Conn.

When holding a balanced hand of 18-19 points open your long suit and jump in notrumps. An opening bid of two no-trump shows 20-22. When unbalanced in the range 19-21, you normally bid your long suit, and should only open with a forcing call if you can visualize game facing a well-fitting hand of 0-4 points. You must have a long suit or possess a real two-suiter to make this call.

I had the following hand yesterday ♠ Q-9, K-7, A-K-8-4, ♣ A-J-10-8-2 and I did not know how whether to open a suit or one no-trump in fourth chair.

Mumbles, Boston, Mass.

With honor-doubletons in your short suits, it seems sensible to limit the hand at one go, and let partner know what you have at once by opening one notrump. You might miss a minor suit game, but otherwise this not only feels like the right evaluation, you also protect your doubleton honors from a lead through them.


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 2016. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Saturday, May 28th, 2016

Never tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do and they will surprise you with their ingenuity.

George S. Patton


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

*Four spades, 6-9 HCP

♣K

The North hand offers a real problem in standard bidding after West stretches to double a one spade opener from South. At the table, North had a conventional gadget up his sleeve: he was playing a jump in hearts (the other major) to be a mixed raise in spades. This suggested four trump and just less than a limit raise, but more than preemptive values. South now had enough to drive to game.

When West led the club king, South tried to encourage the defenders to continue attacking clubs by dropping the nine, trying to give the West the impression that East’s play of the club three was the beginning of a signal. If West had taken his club ace it would have set up South’s club queen.

As it happened, West, used by now to South’s wiles, decided to shift to a red suit. Logically enough he tried the heart queen, and now South continued his devious ways by contributing a low heart from both hands, hoping that West would assume that his partner had the heart ace.

Maybe West might have focused on East’s low heart at this trick, but he can hardly be blamed too much for pressing on with another heart. Now South came into his own. He took the heart ace, drew trump, discarded the diamond king on dummy’s heart king, and ruffed out the diamond ace. He could get back to dummy with a trump, to discard two clubs on dummy’s two good diamonds, and another “unmakeable” contract had come home.


They say the perfect is the enemy of the good. While you could explore for an ideal fit for a club game or slam, what is in front of your nose is a hand that should play in partscore or game in spades. You may have 17 HCP, but your honors in your short suits aren’t pulling their weight. Treat the hand as a spade invitation, by jumping to three spades. If partner cannot bid game, it won’t be a good contract.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ A K J 10 9 3
 A 2
 K
♣ Q 9 7 2
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 2016. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, May 27th, 2016

All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others.

George Orwell


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

*Game-forcing with spades

9

Today’s deal proved to be the critical difference in a close loss I suffered in a national knock-out match. My first reaction was that my teammate had been unlucky, in that his counterpart had been given a nudge in the right direction. But I realized later that luck had very little to do with it.

What happened was that both tables reached slam, but against my teammate a low diamond was led. Declarer won and drew trumps, ending in hand. Then he took a club finesse and when it lost he was doomed to defeat.

In the other room West led the heart nine against the slam. It was now easy for declarer to win the heart jack, draw trump and cash the diamond ace and king. Then he ruffed a diamond to hand and played ace and another heart. East could win the trick, but then had to lead a club into the tenace, and that was the 12th trick.

The hand is something of an optical illusion, though. It might look as if the contract hinged on one of the club or heart finesses working, but the heart finesse on its own is not enough to make the slam. The club finesse IS enough to make the slam though. So just focus on making the slam when the club finesse loses. You can never do so if the heart finesse also fails, but if you take the heart finesse and it succeeds, the endplay on East means you do not need the club finesse to work.


You are far too good to pass, of course. You have two sensible options: these are to overcall one no-trump, which shows a balanced 18-19, or you can double for take-out. I’m torn here; the no-trump call is more descriptive given your honor structure, but slightly more dangerous. Since I have lived (and occasionally died) by the motto “Too dangerous is no excuse” I’ll bid one no-trump.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ A J 8 2
 Q 4 3
 K 4
♣ A K J 7
South West North East
1 ♣ Dbl. Pass 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 2016. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, May 26th, 2016

Give all thou canst: Heaven rejects the lore
Of nicely calculated less or more.

William Wordsworth


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

*Balanced game-force or hearts

4

Today’s deal sees a rather subtle point of spot-card reading, after North-South had done well, I thought, to get to their top spot.

North was playing the conventional style referred to as Kokish (or Birthright) where a direct rebid of two no-trump would have been non-forcing, suggesting 2224 or so. But he could show a very strong balanced hand by a twostep process after his two club opener. His precise sequence showed 28-30, and now South gambled that a six-card suit opposite might be all that was needed to make slam.

In six diamonds South received an unreadable heart spot lead, the four, which could have been from length or shortage. It would have been very easy to put all the eggs in one basket of playing for diamonds to split, by laying down the diamond ace. That way lies disaster, today. But declarer did better when he led a low trump from dummy at trick two.

West won the trick, and declarer’s first significant clue came when East pitched the spade six. West shifted to a spade, and now declarer had to decide how to get to hand to take the trump finesse. He guessed well when he decided West had heart length and spade shortage. Accordingly he won the spade ace, cashed the two top heart winners to pitch a spade, then ruffed a spade to hand. Once this stood up, the hand was over. South could draw trump with the aid of the finesse and pitch a club on dummy’s remaining spade winner.


You may only have a five-count but your hand looks to have enough extra shape in terms of club fit and spade length to be worth a shot at game. Spades rates to be easier to make than clubs, even if you have a 4-4 fit, so I would simply jump to four spades now. In this auction, unless playing Wolff signoff, all continuations are game-forcing, by the way.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ Q 10 6 4 3 2
 10 5 4
 —
♣ Q J 9 5
South West North East
    1 ♣ Pass
1 ♠ Pass 2 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 2016. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Wednesday, May 25th, 2016

Common sense always speaks too late. …Common sense is the little man in a gray suit who never makes a mistake in addition. But it’s always somebody’s else’s money he’s adding up.

Raymond Chandler


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

♠Q

Today’s deal sees North show both his long suits, after which South drives to game with a call in the fourth suit. North now has an option of rebidding his second five-card suit, or of bidding no-trump. However the decision isn’t close, to my mind. You can always find no-trump later, but getting your hand pattern off your chest as soon as possible is never a bad idea. As it happens, South can close proceedings by bidding no-trump himself.

When West kicks off with the spade queen, South can see there are at most five tricks available from the majors, so South must develop one minor or the other.

The clubs look slightly more promising than diamonds, but there is a real risk that going after clubs would let East in with the club king for a killing spade continuation.

In order to develop the diamonds South needs only to find the king with West, the safe hand, plus a three-two break.

So at trick one South discards a club from dummy and wins with the spade king. He then plays on diamonds with the intention of keeping East off play. He plans to lead diamonds twice from the South hand, using a heart re-entry when the queen holds. West will be allowed to hold the trick whenever he plays the king. That player can then cash three high spades, but South has the rest.

Note that if declarer plays the queen and ace of diamonds, losing the third diamond to East, a spade continuation would defeat the contract.


It is tempting to redouble and go head hunting, and indeed at certain vulnerabilities that might be a sensible approach. But if the option is to make a forcing call of one spade, I prefer that route. It becomes surprisingly difficult to get these invitational hands off your chest unless you start low, and waiting around won’t make them any easier to describe.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ A Q J 10 8
 J 10 8 4
 K 8
♣ 6 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 2016. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, May 24th, 2016

You can discern the face of the sky; but can you not discern the times of the times.

Book of Matthew


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

♠5

Mike Lawrence’s latest book, Tips on Cardplay, published by Master Point Press, contains this gem.

West leads the spade five against three no-trump. Dummy wins with the queen and you follow with the 10, suggesting the nine. This is not suit preference, it simply tells your partner what you have in spades.

At trick two, declarer finesses the diamond queen to West’s king. West shifts to the heart three and you take your ace. What now, and why?

You must return the heart six. West switched to a little heart, showing interest in hearts. If West had wanted you to revert to spades, he would have led a high heart spot to convey no interest. How else can you tell partner what you want him to do?

Lawrence notes that at the end of trick one you will often know whether your opening lead was a good lead or a bad one, but your partner may not be so sure. Later, when you get in, if you want him to return your new suit, lead a little card. If you want him to return your original suit, lead a high card.

If East-West don’t have this understanding, East might return a spade, playing West for the ace-jack of spades, allowing declarer to emerge with 10 tricks.

Lawrence also notes that you should return the heart six, whereas if you were left with 6-54, you would return the four. You are trying to tell partner how many hearts you have remaining, in case this affects his subsequent defense.


Unpalatable as it may appear at first glance, I believe your best bet is to rebid one notrump, showing a balanced hand and simulating a heart stopper. The unattractive alternatives are to raise spades on a doubleton, which I would hate to do even if partner had promised five, and to rebid diamonds, which really ought to show six, or a far better suit.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ Q 2
 10 7 2
 Q J 8 7 6
♣ A K 10
South West North East
1 1 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 2016. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.