Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, April 10th, 2016

When I held ♠ Q-10-7-2, A-6-4-2, Q-J-7-3, ♣ J, I heard my partner open two clubs and I could not think of any call to make but two diamonds; did I have a sensible alternative action? When my partner bid two no-trumps, how was I supposed to advance this hand now, if three clubs would be natural?

Hypothetical, Galveston, Texas

I agree with the two diamond call initially, but after your partner shows a balanced 22-24 HCP, you should continue with a Stayman three club bid — just as you would do over an opening two no-trump. If partner shows a major, you want to invite to slam (a call of five clubs would be a splinter raise of partner’s major). If your partner bids three diamonds, a quantitative four no-trump bid looks about right, or even five no-trumps, asking partner to bid suits up the line at the six level.

Will you please confirm to me whether the Flannery convention is still being used at this time or whether its time has come and gone? I teach bridge at my local center, but I did not know how to answer this question.

Market Gardener, Kenosha, Wis.

A Flannery two diamond opener shows five hearts and four spades with fewer than 16 HCP. That allows a response of one spade to one heart to show five, and a response of one no-trump may conceal four spades. After this opening, one can play either two notrump or three clubs as an enquiry about pattern and range. I still play Flannery myself but only say, 10-15 percent of experts do; and the number is in decline, I believe. The rest tend to play a weak two diamonds.

Are there any revolutionary alterations to standard bidding you would recommend? If not, I would like to propose a new bid, “Undouble”! I play at Little Rock Duplicate and three times this week my partner doubled a contract that the opponents made! We came in second on both occasions, but would have won without the doubled contracts.

Heavens to Betsy, Greenville, S.C.

I like it. Of course we could expand the theme; some people would like to have both a penalty double and a take-out double available to them. And some people I know can make that distinction in very subtle fashion, even without having any obviously legal way to do so…

I am wondering whether you have published any articles describing your experience with the Aces. What would be my best bet to obtain a history of the whole process of the formation and success of the Aces?

Record Keeper, Springfield, Mass.

There is a book “Play Bridge with the Aces” by Ira Corn, and both Bob Hamman’s autobiography (“At the table”) and my own “The Lone Wolff” are accurate contemporary records of how the team was formed and how it evolved.

What would you have done with the South and North cards on this pairs deal? In first seat, East opened two spades. South held: ♠ K-J-9-7-6, 4, A-7-2, ♣ A-K-10-2. If South passes, North will have to decide whether to balance holding ♠ —, K-9-7-6, Q-J-4-3, ♣ Q-J-7-6-4. Any thoughts on the best calls for both players?

Janus, Taos, N.M.

Overcalling over two spades with the South cards is very awkward (the only call that makes sense is to bid two no-trump, and I might do it, or pass smoothly hoping partner can reopen.) If you do pass, the contract might just be two spades, undoubled. However, many Norths would reopen with a double, (points, schmoints). South will then have to choose between passing, bidding no-trump, or heading towards a club game or slam. Sometimes the hands are just too hard.


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, April 9th, 2016

Much learning does not teach understanding.

Heraclitus


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

♠5

You declare four spades, and the defenders lead a low trump to trick one. You can envisage both the club ace and the spade ace as being with West. You can also expect West to hold three trumps to the ace; otherwise West would surely have embarked on a different defensive strategy on lead. Therefore, playing a second trump will see you make only nine tricks, as West will surely win the ace and play a third trump. The same will be true if you play a club.

However all is not lost. While you may not be able to ruff anything in dummy, you can ruff hearts in hand. What you need to make 10 tricks is a layout along the lines of the one shown here.

Win the first trick with the trump 10, then play the heart queen to the ace and ruff a heart in hand. A low diamond to the jack sees a second heart ruffed. Now a diamond to the ace is followed by a third heart ruff.

At this point you will lead your remaining spade, the queen. West does best to take the spade ace and get off play with a diamond to your queen. When you play the diamond king, West can ruff. But now he has only clubs remaining, and you will score a trick with the club king. You will make two trumps, the heart ace, three heart ruffs, three diamonds and a club, for a total of 10 tricks.


In my preferred style, the three club call is a game or slam try with hearts agreed as trump and help requested in clubs, typically based on four cards to an honor. A doubleton is a reasonable holding facing this, and your hand is well put together in terms of controls and supporting honors, so I would accept the invitation and bid four hearts.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ K J 2
 A 8 5 2
 A J 9 6
♣ 8 2
South West North East
1 Pass 1 Pass
2 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: Friday, April 8th, 2016

That fellow seems to me to possess but one idea, and that is a wrong one.

Dr. Samuel Johnson


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

A

Opening four spades here opposite a passed partner has a lot to recommend it. Against four spades, West starts with ace and another heart, East following up the line. You can reasonably assume it is West who is short in hearts not East. Plan the play to give yourself the best chance to make your game.

You intend to try to clear trumps, hoping to hold your losers there to one. That means you cannot afford to suffer a ruff. You won’t make four spades if East has the spade king, unless West has a doubleton spade. If that is so, when you lead ace then jack of spades, West will have no trumps left to ruff the third heart. If West does have a third trump, you are surely dead in the water whatever you do.

Equally, there should be no problem if West has both the spade king and club ace, since he cannot put his partner on lead for the ruff. But what if West has the spade king and East the club ace? Then West can win the spade king and lead a club to his partner for him to lead the third heart.

You can overcome this lie of the cards without jeopardizing your other chances, if you play West to hold the diamond ace. At trick three lead the diamond king from dummy, and if East plays low, throw the club eight away. West will win and try a club, but you can ruff and play ace and another trump. West can win, but must surrender the rest.


While you could invite game in diamonds, the fastest route to goal is surely in no-trump. Though diamonds might on some layouts be safer, an invitational jump to two notrump gets your values across nicely, and lets your partner go in whatever direction he wants to.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ K 4 3
 A 9
 A 6 5 2
♣ J 7 4 3
South West North East
  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 2016. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, April 7th, 2016

A day can really slip by when you’re deliberately avoiding what you’re supposed to do.

Bill Watterson


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

♠K

Against four hearts, West leads the spade king. How do you propose to make 10 tricks?

At the table after ruffing the opening spade lead, South played both top trumps at once. Then he crossed to table with the diamond ace to ruff another spade. Next, he played on diamonds, discarding a spade from dummy on the third round of the suit. Alas, East ruffed in, then cashed the queen of trump before playing his last spade. West overtook this with the spade queen and played a fourth round of the suit. Declarer ruffed and could generate an endplay in clubs for down one, but that was hardly a triumph.

The way to avoid this unpleasant outcome was to cash just one high trump from hand before playing on diamonds. After East ruffs the third diamond and presses on with a spade, declarer can ruff and play a fourth round of diamonds, discarding dummy’s last spade. East can do no better than ruff and play a third spade. This is ruffed in dummy and the last trump is drawn with declarer’s king. A low club is discarded from dummy on the last diamond, and declarer has 10 tricks: the trump ace-king, four small trumps – taken separately — three diamonds, and the club ace.

After both opponents follow to the first round of trump, all this plan does is to give the defenders the chance to make up to two trump tricks in addition to one club. So it will also succeed against almost all 3-2 trump breaks as well.


You do not want to sell out to two diamonds, but a double would perhaps suggest club length rather than hearts. I think a simple call of two hearts should show both majors. The auction might be consistent with holding a fifth spade, but you can reasonably assume that you have a safe haven in one major or the other.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ 8 7 5 2
 10 7 5 2
 A 2
♣ A 4 2
South West North East
  1 Dbl. 1
1 ♠ Pass 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 2016. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Wednesday, April 6th, 2016

Love truth, but pardon error.

Voltaire


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

♠6

Today’s deal shows that one should never give up on defense. Even when your chances are slim, half the battle is identifying what you need to defeat a contract. Whether or not partner comes through for you is another matter, but if you don’t try, you won’t succeed.

Imagine that as West you are defending four hearts and lead your singleton spade. Prospects for the game look fairly terrible for North-South, but the 7-1 spade split makes the game hard to defeat.

The spade queen is covered by the king and ace, and declarer plays a heart to the ace and a diamond to the queen and your ace. Now you should realize the danger of dummy’s diamond suit and know that the defense has to cash one spade trick or two club tricks to prevail. How can you get partner in for the killing play?

The only realistic hope of beating the game (except for East’s holding an unlikely doubleton heart queen) is that he comes through for you with the club ace. But you have a slight additional chance: maybe if he holds both the club queen and eight he can be put on play to win a club trick?

To make sure he doesn’t misdefend, lead a low club, which will go to his queen and declarer’s ace. Declarer next plays a diamond to the king and a third diamond. East can’t ruff in, so he pitches a spade and you win your diamond 10. Now you triumphantly lead a club to his eight, to let him cash the spade jack for down one.


This hand is worth forcing to game, but it is truly not clear which game will be best. You cannot bid no-trump yourself, and since a call of three diamonds would be invitational but not forcing (or even weak, depending on your methods) you must start with a cuebid. Let partner play three no-trump if he can bid it, and you can pass a four heart response, and bid four diamonds over four clubs.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ Q 4
 A K J
 K 9 8 7 4
♣ 6 3 2
South West North East
  2 ♠ 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 2016. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, April 5th, 2016

Honest bread is very well – it’s the butter that makes the temptation.

Douglas Jerrold


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

♠6

In today’s auction, when South bids clubs then shows spades, North can bid two diamonds, the fourth suit setting up a game force. South’s non-committal call of two notrump is the least lie, suggesting a minimum balanced hand with a diamond stopper – not far from the truth, though a raise to three diamonds might also show this hand.

When North sets spades as trump South contents himself with a simple raise to game to conclude the auction, and West’s trump lead is best for the defense.

South can try to establish one trick in hearts, one in diamonds, and two in clubs. He therefore needs six trump tricks to make the contract. South can make six trump tricks by ruffing twice in the dummy and making his own four trumps, or by ruffing twice in his own hand and then making dummy’s four trump. Either method will work, provided only that South doesn’t draw more than two rounds of trump in total.

South must cash his winning cards in the side suits first, and he also needs to set up a heart trick as part of the plan. Hence, he wins the first trump in his own hand and leads a heart at once.

West wins with the heart ace and leads a second trump. South must not draw any more trump or allow the enemy to draw more trump. So he cashes his top heart, then his minor-suit aces and kings. Now he can ruff diamonds in the dummy and hearts in his own hand to bring in the required total of 10 tricks.


Not all eight-counts are worth an invitational call facing an opening bid of one no-trump. However, this one is not only worth an invitation, I’d be inclined to transfer, then drive to three notrump, especially at teams, to let my partner choose between games. It isn’t just the heart intermediates, it is the fact that you have a likely re-entry to reach your winners, even facing a doubleton heart.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ 6 5 4
 A J 10 9 4
 K 5 3
♣ 10 7
South West North East
    1 NT 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, April 4th, 2016

Poetry should surprise by a fine excess and not by Singularity.

John Keats


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

*Pick a slam

♠K

Bridge players learn early that in order to run their long suits they should unblock their suits by cashing the high cards in the short hand first. However, every rule has its exception, and each hand should be treated on its own merits; consider today’s deal, for example.

North-South might appear to belong in seven hearts, but the opponents’ violent preemption tipped South off to potentially bad breaks on the horizon. He offered a choice of slams at the six-level, and North sensibly settled for hearts.

When West led the spade king, declarer rose with dummy’s ace then cashed the ace and queen of trump. If hearts had broken 3-2, there would have been no problem in coming to 13 tricks, so long as diamonds broke no worse than 4-2. But now even the small slam was in trouble, because entries to dummy were so limited. After cashing the diamond ace and jack, South used his last entry, the club ace, to play the diamond king. When East ruffed in with the nine, the slam was dead, for declarer could no longer reach dummy and he had an inevitable club loser.

The route home is instead to cash the heart ace and king at tricks two and three, leaving the queen in dummy as a late entry. Then comes the diamond ace and jack. Now a heart to the queen is followed by the diamond king for a spade discard. This way the club ace still remains in place, as the entry to the rest of the diamonds for club discards.


It doesn’t feel right to lead hearts – declarer might be short of entries to take a finesse in that suit. A diamond seems logical, and I’d choose the nine, since having raised the suit, partner will know I’m won’t be short there. When you have voluntarily supported your partner, as opposed to giving forced preference, you can consider leading the highest card you can afford from three or four small cards.

LEAD WITH THE ACES

♠ Q 7 4 2
 J 10 2
 9 6 5 4
♣ K 9
South West North East
    1 Dbl.
1 ♠ Pass 1 NT 2 ♣
2 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, April 3rd, 2016

Here is something I have never been able to figure out. It happens sometimes at teams or duplicate pairs that the opponents have stopped in three of a major. You are pretty sure you can make four of a minor. But if you bid on, they may bid to game and make it. What should you do – and does it matter if you are playing matchpoints or IMPs?

Faint Heart, Salinas, Calif.

Bid on; assume if the opponents stop in three of a major deliberately, they are right the first time and won’t bid four or make it, if given a second chance. On any auction where the opponents have a chance to bid game and decline to do so, you should assume they haven’t had an accident, but are aware they are short of the values to bid game.

Is there a difference between a revoke and a renege? I see both these terms used in the books, but they are never fully explained. Nor is the penalty ever set out in full, it seems.

Legal Beagle, Atlanta, Ga.

The two terms are identical. As to penalties: there is no penalty if, from the revoke tricks onwards the offending side won no more tricks. If they won only one trick on or after the revoke, the penalty is one trick. Even if they won two or more tricks after the revoke, the penalty will only be two tricks if: specifically the player who revoked (as opposed to his partner) won the revoke trick; OR the revoking player later won a trick with a card he could have played on the revoke trick. But if these penalties do not restore equity, the tournament director may adjust the score.

I picked up ♠ 7-2, J-2, A-K-J-8-7-3-2, ♣ J-4. I opened one diamond in second seat, and rebid the suit. Now my partner who held the bare diamond queen asked for aces and settled in six no-trump, making for a top board when diamonds were 3-2. Afterwards my opponents gave me grief, saying this was not worth an opening bid. I thought it was too good to pre-empt or pass on.

Bid’em Up Bosworth, East Lansing, Mich.

Vulnerable I might preempt, but non-vulnerable I like your choice of opening one diamond in first seat. I would never pass this hand, whatever I did, since I would want to get this suit into the action as fast as was legal.

Because I am frequently traveling, I find I cannot read your daily bridge column as regularly as I would like. Is there any daily feature on bridge (like a crossword puzzle book) that you would recommend to replace my daily reading/ playing of the card game from the newspaper?

Door-to-door Donald, Mason City, Iowa

There are many (maybe too many) books on bridge! The authors I always recommend are Mike Lawrence, Eddie Kantar, Terence Reese and Hugh Kelsey. For my daily column online, go to bridgeblogging.com.

I recently held: ♠ 7-2, J-6-4-2, Q-J-7-3-2, ♣ J-2. After my partner opened one spade, and my RHO bid two hearts, I passed. In the balancing seat, my partner doubled for take-out. What ought I to do now?

Higgs Boson, Levittown, Pa.

I frequently bid two spades with a doubleton on parallel auctions to this, if no better action seems available, but here your diamonds are too good to pass up. It looks natural to bid three diamonds — though experts might argue that the wide range of hands for your initial pass should allow you to use a call of three diamonds here as promising values. You would then have to go through two no-trump as an artificial route to show a weak hand – just as one does in Lebensohl auctions.


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, April 2nd, 2016

Oh, call it by some better name,
For friendship sounds too cold.

Thomas Moore


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

♠A

When Zia Mahmood was relatively unknown, he honed his craft at rubber bridge and built up a reputation for originality at Stefan’s Bridge Circle in London. He has gone on to become a bridge icon, and is now universally known just as “Zia”. There are very few people in the bridge world known by a single name – perhaps an indication of his place in the pantheon of bridge.

Here is an example of his ability to pull the wool over his opponents’ eyes; why does it always seem to work for him and never for me?

He was partnering Jan Jansma of the Netherlands in the Open Pairs at the 2013 European Open Championships in Ostend, and they were disputing the lead in the final with Sabine Auken and Roy Welland; they were finally overtaken on the last few boards.

Against three hearts, West led the spade ace, under which Zia, knowing a ruff was in the offing, unhesitatingly dropped the king. This play might have cost him a trick, but seeing the jack in dummy, and believing Zia, West switched to a diamond. Zia ducked in dummy, and when East took his ace, Zia could win the diamond return with the king. That let him dispose of his losing spades on dummy’s clubs.

It was time to broach trump now. Zia played the jack from dummy and saw East’s 10. Now Zia couldn’t conceive of a player holding Q-10 and not covering. So he rose with the king, dropping the singleton queen. 10 tricks made!


Your hand is worth going to game, but don’t raise directly to four spades. You should not eliminate the possibility of playing no-trump, and the best way to do that is to cuebid three diamonds (promising a fit) planning to offer the choice of games by bidding three no-trump at your next turn, and letting partner choose.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ J 9 2
 J 6 5 4
 K 9
♣ A K 10 6
South West North East
  2 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: Friday, April 1st, 2016

I once knew a man out of courtesy help a lame dog over a stile, and he for requital bit his fingers.

William Chillingworth


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

♠J

Today’s deal will ask you to plan the defense to three hearts as East, after West has led the spade jack, on the auction shown.

When the deal came up in a team game, both Souths reached the delicate contract of three hearts, after a spade lead. One pair was successful on defense, one pair failed, though in the second case it was not really clear whether the defenders had done anything terribly wrong.

Both Easts came to the conclusion that the fact that their partner had led the spade jack and not a top club or diamond virtually guaranteed that declarer had to have the heart ace, a high diamond honor, and at least a decent club holding. Eventually, therefore, declarer would, if left to his own devices, come to six hearts, one club and two diamonds. So they worked out that they had to shift to a club at once.

At one table East won the spade ace and switched to the club 10, ducked round to dummy’s ace. However, when West won the first diamond, he decided to play his partner for the club king rather than the spade queen, and a club switch let claim his contract. At the second table, East found the way to put his partner on the right track by winning the spade queen at trick one and shifting to the club 10. Now West knew to play back a spade when he won the diamond queen. A second club through declarer left declarer without resource.


I can see the logic in rebidding my hearts to suggest a minimum hand unsuitable for defense. As against that, do I want to play in hearts facing shortness? I think not. I would pass and see how the auction pans out. I would certainly be prepared to sit for a penalty double, if my partner makes one – whichever suit the opponents finish in.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ 9 7
 A 10 8 6 5 4
 K 3
♣ K J 2
South West North East
1 Dbl. Rdbl. 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.