Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, September 24th, 2018

Art hath an enemy called Ignorance.

Ben Jonson


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

♣Q

When North opens one spade and hears a two-heart response, he has three possible continuations. He could raise to three hearts or four hearts, or he could make a splinter raise to four diamonds. Does this last route show extras? The combination of North having a dead minimum and the “wrong” splinter — an ace or small card is much better than the king — persuades him to go low. South has no reason to continue over the four-heart call.

After West leads the club queen, it might seem that South has four quick black-suit losers. But declarer has a top diamond in hand to cope with the slow club losers. South wins the first trick with dummy’s club ace and unblocks dummy’s diamond king. He then gets back to his hand by way of the trump ace and cashes the diamond ace to discard one of dummy’s losing clubs.

The idea now is to make it possible for South to ruff his losing minor-suit cards in dummy. He trumps a diamond, then gives up a club, planning to ruff dummy’s remaining club with the heart king and draw trumps, conceding just two spade tricks.

If the defenders win the second club and play anything but a spade, that is precisely what declarer will do. If, instead, East wins the club king and plays a spade to his partner’s king, for a spade back to the ace and a third spade, declarer will ruff high, then draw trumps ending in dummy, with the spade queen as a home for his last club loser.


Over one diamond, I would probably overcall one spade, but here it feels right to double two diamonds. Since this hand is likely worth no more than one call, I want to keep both majors in play. Doubling seems like the right way to do that.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ Q 7 5 4 2
 K 9 4 3
 K
♣ A 5 4
South West North East
      2
?      

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

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, September 23rd, 2018

When would you open a weak two in fourth seat? I can understand that you would pass most hands with 8 points. What would you open, if anything, in fourth seat with ♠ J-10-7-3,  A-K-10-9-3-2,  —, ♣ Q-10-3? My view is that it should be a better hand than one in which you would open one heart and rebid two hearts.

Sally Fourth, Elkhart, Ind.

My two-bids in fourth chair start at 9 points. A two-spade opening with ace-king-jack-sixth and an additional minor honor is probably a dead minimum. Your example looks like a two-heart opener. We might belong in spades, but I’d be willing to take my chances on that.

I know Lebensohl applies as a way to compete when the opponents overcall over a strong no-trump. Are there other applications of this convention that we should be playing?

Handy Man, Pottsville, Pa.

Yes, indeed! Once you have bought into the concept, use it after reverses or when responding to the takeout double of a weak two. It can also be employed when partner opens, then balances with a double of a two-level overcall or jump overcall. Finally, you can (with some caution) use it after partner doubles a one-level opener and the opponents raise that suit. For more information, see Extended Lebensohl and Blackout.

I am returning to bridge after an extended hiatus. I suspect my methods 30 years ago (16-18 no-trump and four-card majors) are now out of date. What approach is standard these days?

Long Gone, Memphis, Tenn.

I believe almost everywhere in the world new players are taught five-card majors, and to open 12-counts rather than waiting for 13-point hands. In turn, that fits best with 15-17 for the no-trump range. I’d recommend learning from the ACBL free teaching tool.

What happens when a tournament director gives a decision at the table that appears to you to be wrong or unfair? Is there a right of appeal, or is a director’s ruling final?

Last Call, Charlottesville, Tenn.

I believe there is always a right of appeal against a director ruling, except where that ruling is a matter of law rather than interpretation. For example, you cannot appeal a penalty for a revoke, no matter how unfair or inequitable you think it is. But you should chat to your club director (or an impartial expert) before doing anything dramatic.

How should our partnership play the range of a jump in partner’s opened minor? We play a strong no-trump, and specifically I wonder when, if at all, we should consider moving on to three no-trump facing the jump raise.

Razor’s Edge, Tupelo, Miss.

I’m going to hedge a bit. I suggest that if you have a normal balanced 18-19, you do not head for three no-trump facing a non-vulnerable pre-emptive raise. In other words, the raise typically shows values of 0-5 high-card points with five or six cards in the suit raised. But facing a vulnerable raise (which tends toward showing slightly more than a purely preemptive raise), I would at least try for three no-trump, expecting partner to have closer to 4-8 high-card points.


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

The Aces on Bridge: Saturday, September 22nd, 2018

It was very prettily said that we may learn the little value of fortune by the persons on whom heaven is pleased to bestow it.

Sir Richard Steele


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

*Michaels, five hearts and five
  cards in a minor

♠6

This board occurred in a knockout match where North-South were behind and in need of a swing. Accordingly, after North cue-bid to show a high-card spade raise and South disclosed some extras with his jump to four spades, then admitted to a first-round heart control by bidding five hearts, North went for the grand slam.

Against seven spades, West went passive with the lead of the trump six; declarer took this with the jack and drew the remaining trump by leading to dummy’s ace. At this point, he could be confident neither minor suit was going to behave, but next he cashed the diamond ace followed by the club ace and king, throwing the queen and nine of hearts from hand. A club ruff confirmed that West had started with 1=5=5=2 shape.

So declarer next led the diamond queen from hand, hoping that East’s two-card diamond suit was anything but the doubleton king. To his relief, West covered the queen with the king, which cheered up South considerably.

Declarer ruffed the diamond in dummy, ruffed a club back to hand and led a confident diamond nine. West covered with the 10, and this was again ruffed in dummy.

After a second club ruff to get back to hand, declarer led the diamond eight. A disconsolate West covered this with the jack and, after the third ruff in dummy, declarer claimed his contract. He had eight trump tricks, four tricks in aces and kings, and the diamond seven for trick 13.


It seems logical to raise to four hearts now. Anytime your partner has six hearts (or five good hearts), your hand will offer the opportunity to ruff some diamonds. If you bid three no-trump, you will probably find that to succeed you will need to set up the clubs, one way or another.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ A Q 8 7 5
 6 4
 A
♣ A K 10 8 3
South West North East
1 ♠ Pass 1 NT 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 2018. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, September 21st, 2018

Into a limbo large and broad, since called
The Paradise of fools, to few unknown.

John Milton


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

♠9

In today’s deal, South should know that his partner’s double followed by a three-no-trump rebid suggests something like a two no-trump opening. South’s hand would be worthless at no-trump, but he will make more tricks at hearts than North can make at no-trump. South therefore corrects three no-trump to four hearts, and North should be happy to trust his partner and pass.

When the dummy appears, South notes that he has four possible losers: a trump, a diamond and two clubs. Some way must be found to eliminate one of those losing tricks, but clubs appear to be 7-0 with the ace onside, so declarer ought to be able to lead up to the club king after drawing trumps.

Declarer begins by winning the spade king and starting to draw trumps, whereupon East takes the heart ace. Much to South’s irritation, East is able to shift to the club jack, which goes to his partner’s ace.

Don’t delude yourself that all is well: East surely has a singleton club and is hoping to ruff the second round of the suit. What can declarer do about that?

Once the problem has been diagnosed, the correct riposte may be found. South must withhold dummy’s club king on both the second and third round of the suit. He must play low from dummy each time and ruff the third club in his hand. He then finishes drawing trumps, and only now can the club king be taken in perfect safety, to allow South to dispose of his losing diamond.


Despite your singleton, you must rebid three no-trump here. To bid a second suit, you should have at least minimal slam interest; make one of your low diamonds the queen, and you would have enough for that action. Here, you should try to get partner to pick between spades and no-trump.

BID WITH THE ACES

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

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, September 20th, 2018

Civilization advances by extending the number of important operations which we can perform without thinking about them.

Alfred North Whitehead


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

*Majors

**Lebensohl

K

When this deal came up at a pairs event, West showed the majors over one no-trump, leaving North with a problem as to how to compete. He decided to show his clubs with a call of two no-trump, the Lebensohl convention, planning to let his partner play a club part-score.

However, after the opponents bid confidently to game, he elected to disclose both minors, letting South play five clubs. Clearly, East-West would be able to take 10 (but not 11) tricks in hearts on best defense, but how do you like South’s chances in five clubs? At the table, West led a top heart, and dummy ruffed.

Declarer saw that he could afford to lose one spade, but not two. The plan, therefore, was to establish the diamonds by keeping East off lead. Playing smoothly but without undue haste, South led a trump to the ace and the club jack to the king, then let the diamond eight run to West’s jack. He ruffed the heart return, unblocked his diamonds and trumped a third heart to dummy to discard two of his spades on the diamonds, making five.

At the end of the deal, West asked his partner if he planned to live and die by the old saw “Second hand plays low.” East asked what he meant by that, and West pointed out that East had needed to cover the diamond eight with the 10. When declarer played his king, West would unblock the jack, and now East’s Q-7 of diamonds would be a sure entry to let him get in to play spades through declarer’s gizzard.


Your side has at least an eight-card heart fit, and your opponents surely have some sort of eight-card or better fit in diamonds. You do not need to examine the situation more carefully than that: The Law of Total Tricks tells you to bid on to two hearts. Dare you argue with it now?

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ 10 6 4
 A 9 5 4 2
 Q 10 6
♣ 7 5
South West North East
  1 Dbl. Pass
1 2 ♣ Pass 2
?      

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

The Aces on Bridge: Wednesday, September 19th, 2018

Only take this rule along,
Always to advise her wrong;
And reprove her when she’s right;
She may then grow wise for spite.

Jonathan Swift


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

♠4

Mistakes come in all shapes and sizes; I’m sure I still have many new ones to find. In today’s deal, your task is to spot what error declarer made to floor his game.

After two passes, when East opened with four spades, South felt obliged to bid. I’d vote for a double (meaning it as cards, rather than penalty) or a call of four no-trump, but he chose to bid five diamonds, and West was delighted to double.

South won the spade lead and drew all the opponents’ trumps, ending in dummy, then ruffed a spade high before leading a heart to the 10. Now he ran the club nine to West, who took his jack and exited with the ace and another heart. Declarer could no longer avoid a further club loser — down one.

West’s double surely suggests that the missing high cards in hearts and clubs will be with West. So declarer should draw just two rounds of trumps, ending in hand, then lead a heart.

At this point, West might as well rise with the ace and exit in either red suit, but declarer can arrange to finish both red suits, ending in dummy. At that point, he can lead the club nine around to West. What can West do now? He must either return a club into South’s tenace or play a heart and concede a ruff-and-discard. In that case, declarer discards a club from dummy and ruffs in hand. He next cashes the club ace and leads the queen for a ruffing finesse against West’s king, while he still has a trump entry to hand.


In auctions of this sort, one normally raises partner’s major either directly or at the next turn. Typically, you raise directly unless the hand is too defensive in nature, or unless you have a doubleton honor in trump, when you might not want to get partner too excited about competing further. I’d raise directly here, but if my lefthand opponent had opened one diamond, I might pass first and raise later.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ 10 8 7
 K J 10
 K 7 6 3
♣ 9 8 5
South West North East
  1 ♣ 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 2018. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, September 18th, 2018

As long as you know that most men are like children, you know everything.

Coco Chanel


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

5

In today’s deal, one declarer identified a line for his contract that required either a 3-3 split or one of two finesses to be successful — pretty good odds in abstract, though not a sure thing. His counterpart did better, though.

South’s jump to three spades showed a good suit, but did not guarantee a solid suit. After Key-card Blackwood revealed that the trump queen was missing, South settled for the small slam.

Declarer took the diamond lead in dummy and immediately finessed in spades. He won the diamond return in hand, then played the ace and king of hearts and ruffed a heart. As that suit failed to break 3-3, South was forced to use his last entry to dummy to take the ill-fated club finesse. He doubtless thought himself unlucky to have gone down.

In the other room, though, Christian Mari was at the helm. As befits a multiple world champion, he was not inclined to rely on chance.

He took the opening diamond lead in hand and cashed the top trumps, then continued with the heart ace and king and a heart ruff. Unperturbed by the 4-2 break, he simply drove out the trump queen and could win the diamond return in dummy with the ace. That let him ruff another heart to establish the suit, and finally a diamond to the queen allowed him to pitch his losing clubs on dummy’s hearts.

Even if East had held the spade queen and had been able to shift to a club, declarer would have risen with the ace and continued as described.


Despite your extra values you have no guarantee you can make game, or that hearts will play better than no-trump. I’d raise to two no-trump as the least committal way forward, with my second choice a jump to three hearts. If you play two clubs as artificial rather than natural, it would come into consideration too.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ 6 4
 A K 7 6 4 2
 A Q 3
♣ J 2
South West North East
      1 ♣
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 2018. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, September 17th, 2018

Not only is there an art in knowing a thing, but also a certain art in teaching it.

Cicero


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

♠J

A basic knowledge of suit combinations will always be useful, and today’s deal has points of interest in both the bidding and the play.

Let’s look at the bidding first. At matchpoint pairs, South’s jump to six no-trump is unsubtle but understandable. But since a grand slam in clubs could be cold if North’s heart queen were the king (and as it is, six clubs is a better spot than six no-trump), South should have explored further by bidding four clubs over three no-trump, then using Blackwood.

In six no-trump, South wins the spade lead and can count 11 top tricks. The simplest play for the contract is the heart finesse; can South do better? Yes, he can. If he takes the finesse and it loses, he is almost out of chances unless there is a somewhat unlikely squeeze, with the same hand guarding the third round of hearts and diamonds.

A better play is to lead a heart to the nine; today, that forces the king, and declarer is home free. But if the nine loses to the 10 or jack, declarer then wins the return and cashes all his clubs, then spades. One defender may err by keeping spades and unguarding diamonds, but even if this doesn’t happen, you can reduce to a two-card ending with the diamond nine and a heart in hand and the ace-queen of hearts in dummy. Unless there are strong indications to the contrary, declarer will fall back on the heart finesse, but he will certainly have made his opponents’ task more difficult.


It seems possible to build up the full shapes of all the hands. Dummy surely has a strong holding, maybe a 3=2=5=3 shape. Declarer must be 4=4=1=4, so it feels right to lead a trump and cut down the ruffs, as is generally the case when one opponent has a three-suited hand.

LEAD WITH THE ACES

♠ 7 6 2
 K J 9 3
 K 7 4 2
♣ 9 6
South West North East
  1 Dbl. Pass
1 Dbl. Pass 1 ♠
1 NT Pass 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 2018. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, September 16th, 2018

How many extras does an overcaller need to double for take-out, then double again? One of our opponents followed this sequence with perfect 4-4-4-1 shape, but just three aces and a queen. His partner passed with queen-jack-fourth of trump and a king, but couldn’t defeat our contract. Does the second double promise more cards than this, even if it is still for take-out?

Reopen for Business, Edmonton, Calgary

When a hand that has doubled for takeout bids again, it shows extras. The second double is still for takeout, though this one may come close to being played as optional, depending on the level of the action, say a double of a game contract. In such situations, sometimes responder passes from weakness if balanced, and hopes for the best.

I enjoy your bridge column and tend to go along with most of your views on bridge. But recently, you featured an opening bid in third seat when holding ♠ Q-J-9-2,  A-9-2,  J-6-4, ♣ K-3-2. I do not enjoy opening one club with this hand; I’d rather open one spade and plan to pass any non-forcing response. Where do you stand here?

Trumpet Voluntary, Palm Springs, Calif.

I agree with you that a one-club opening bid does not accomplish much. Passing is perfectly reasonable, and when I do open a minor in third seat, I tend to have either a good suit or a reasonable hand. This hand does not qualify as either. A one-spade opener is more pre-emptive and lead-directing, so that would be my choice.

You recently discussed the Principle of Restricted Choice. Please explain how the concept works and when it applies.

Monkey Wrench, Newport News, Va.

Occam’s Razor basically says when you have to weigh up two outcomes, go for the simplest. So, when you have to compare the chance that a player has a doubleton consisting of two equal cards (generally the queen-jack) or that they started with a bare honor, the latter is more likely. The doubleton is more likely than each individual singleton, but the chance that the queen will appear from the doubleton holding is actually only half that, because half the time the player would contribute the jack from queen-jack. See details of “The Monty Hall problem” online.

What should persuade responder to upgrade a constructive raise of a major to a limit raise? For example, if you hold ♠ Q-9-2,  K-7-3-2,  J-6-4, ♣ A-3-2 and hear your partner open a major, would you make a simple raise or a limit raise of one heart or one spade?

Shark Tank, Key West, Fla.

You have a 10-count, but it is too balanced to make a limit raise of one spade. Make the club ace the diamond ace, and you might consider the limit raise; but since partner typically has a balanced 12-14, do you really need to be in game facing that? I’d simply raise to two spades. By contrast, the fourth trump would persuade me to make a reluctant limit raise of hearts, even if I’m not convinced the hand is really worth it.

You recently featured a deal where someone in second seat overcalled one heart over one diamond with a six-count, when holding ♠ 6-3,  Q-J-10-8-4,  Q-J-9-2, ♣ 6-3. I have seen this sort of action several times, both at the table and in your column, and I wonder where you stand on it.

Hot Drinks, Indio, Calif.

To clarify my position; I was just reporting the facts. This hand is not exactly worth an overcall. If I had to put a point-count limit on one-level overcalls, it would be a decent suit in a hand of 8-9 points. In the example hand, I would happily overcall if one of the queens were an ace.


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

The Aces on Bridge: Saturday, September 15th, 2018

Three o’clock is always too late or too early for what you want to do.

Jean-Paul Sartre


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

*Game-forcing, might be short

10

In reporting on this deal in the Daily Bulletin from the Yeh Bros Cup in 2017, the editors spoke just a little too soon when they indicated that declarer might need second sight to bring home his game.

As Geir Helgemo showed, basic numeracy might suffice in the right circumstances. A total of 10 declarers brought home four spades — though twice it was declared from the North seat, when the club tenace was protected and declarer had significant extra chances.

The play in four hearts in the match between Sweden and Monaco saw the Monaco West lead a diamond rather than a club. The Swedish declarer missed his chance when, after winning cheaply in hand, he knocked out the heart ace. He won the next diamond, then completed drawing trumps and led out the spade king. At this point, he realized the avoidance play of a low spade to the nine would fail if East won and played a third diamond, leaving the spades blocked. So, he played the spade ace and a third spade. West could win and play a club through to doom the contract.

In the other room, the defenders did lead clubs. East cashed his ace and led a low club. After the defenders played on trump, declarer found East, a passed hand, with two aces and, inferentially, the club jack (or West would have led the club queen to trick one). West was likely to hold the spade queen, or East might have opened. So Helgemo advanced the spade jack from his hand, and could now play the spade suit for no loser.


Your cue-bid sets up a force until a suit has been agreed. You could now invite game by bidding only three hearts, but isn’t this hand a force to game? Even though your diamond honors may be worthless, game is surely going to be no worse than the spade finesse. I would bid four hearts, but make the spade two a club, and I bid only three hearts.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ K J 7 4 2
 K Q 6 3
 Q J
♣ 10 3
South West North East
  1 Dbl. 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 2018. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.