Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, May 31st, 2019

There are dark shadows on the Earth, but its lights are stronger in the contrast.

Charles Dickens


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

Q

When this deal came up, two declarers were confronted with the same defense but drew two different conclusions from their opponents’ play.

At both tables, after the lead of the heart queen to the king and ace, each defender accurately shifted to the club king to try to set up tricks in that suit. At the first table, declarer won his ace and played a low spade to the king. When East discarded a diamond, declarer unblocked diamonds, then played a heart. However, West could now maneuver to score two trump tricks and a club.

At the second table, declarer read the lead as a singleton and asked himself why East had not played for heart ruffs. South concluded that West probably had a trump trick, and that East believed he needed more than just one heart ruff to beat the contract.

So, at trick three, South led the trump jack from hand and let it run when West played low. Then declarer took the trump ace and king before playing a low heart to the jack. Had West overtrumped to lead two rounds of clubs, declarer would have ruffed out the hearts, using the diamond king as a re-entry to dummy. So West discarded a club instead. Now declarer returned to dummy with the diamond king to run the heart nine, covered with the 10 and ruffed in hand.

West did his best by over-ruffing with the queen to cash a club, but declarer had the rest. He made four trumps, two hearts, two diamonds, the club ace and a club ruff.



It feels right to give delayed support to two hearts now. This is not only because you don’t want to give up entirely on a chance at game, but also because if your partner has a singleton spade, you might be able to use a trump in dummy to cope with a fourth-round minor-suit loser.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ J 10 6 4 3
 J 4
 A 5 4
♣ A 10 4
South West North East
Pass 1 ♣ 1 Pass
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 2019. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, May 30th, 2019

Time goes, you say? Ah, no! Alas, Time stays, we go.

Austin Dobson


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

9

Today’s deal comes from the semifinals of the Australian National Open Teams; it is the flip-side of yesterday’s deal. We had pointed out that declarer’s false-cards will occasionally rebound. But the advantage of these maneuvers is that fooling your partner does no harm when he is dummy.

Frequently, you want to prevent an opponent reading from his partner’s lead as a singleton and giving him a ruff. But occasionally, it is in your interest not to falsecard, as here.

Jacek Pszczola, known to the world at large as Pepsi, over-called four spades over an off-center three-diamond pre-empt. When West led the diamond nine, Pepsi played low from dummy; East put up his ace and saw the two from South.

East could read that his partner had led a singleton, so he returned a diamond, and West ruffed. Back came a heart, which Pepsi took with his ace. He cashed his two top trumps, then crossed to the club ace to dispose of his heart loser on a diamond winner. West could ruff in with his master trump, but declarer had the rest.

At the second table, West also led his singleton diamond against four spades, but this time declarer dropped his jack under the ace. Jacek Kalita, as East, was in the hot seat, and he could not read whether the lead was a singleton or doubleton. But he could see that his side needed to set up heart winners. So, he shifted accurately to a low heart at trick two, and now the contract could no longer be made.



It must be right to raise hearts at once; otherwise, we may have to do so at an inconvenient level, or not do it at all. That said, a simple raise to two hearts covers a wide variety of hands. It would be convenient to have both a constructive and a minimum raise, as we would if the opponents had stayed silent. Some use a two-club call for a constructive three-card raise; that would be ideal here.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ Q J 8 3
 Q 5 3
 9
♣ Q J 7 5 3
South West North East
    1 Dbl.
?      

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

The Aces on Bridge: Wednesday, May 29th, 2019

Man, who wert once a despot and a slave;
A dupe and a deceiver; a decay;
A traveler from the cradle to the grave
Through the dim light of this immortal day.

Percy Shelley


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

3

The art of falsecarding is a complex one; it is generally a good rule as declarer to conceal small cards in the suit led to make the defenders’ task of reading leads and signals more difficult. But you should not do this entirely at random; sometimes you make the defenders’ task easier, not harder.

For example, in this deal from Masterplay (also known as the Expert Game) by Terence Reese, a false-card by the declarer was the clue to the defense.

West kicked off with the heart three against three no-trump. While some prefer to lead second highest rather than a low card from four small, leading fourth best was certainly reasonable. Declarer played the heart two from dummy, East played the heart king, and South dropped the heart nine.

South’s idea was to make the opponents think that he was short in hearts and to encourage a heart continuation. In fact, the play conveyed a completely different impression. East could tell from the lead of the heart three, with the heart two in dummy, that West had only four hearts. Therefore, South’s play of the heart nine had to be a false-card, and the inference to be drawn was that declarer was well upholstered in that suit.

So, East switched to a low diamond, playing his partner for the diamond jack. This play did the trick. When West came in with the spade king, he was able to return a diamond to his partner’s A-10 for the defense’s fifth winner.



Nothing in bridge is ever simple or unanimous, but I believe the majority of people would expect that if South had reversing values together with four diamonds and five clubs, he would jump to three diamonds now. Therefore, a call of two diamonds suggests this minor-suit pattern without real extras, making it an ideal bid here.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ J 10
 J 2
 K Q 8 7
♣ A Q 9 8 4
South West North East
1 ♣ 1 Dbl. Pass
?      

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

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, May 28th, 2019

Is not life a hundred times too short for us — to bore ourselves?

Friedrich Nietzsche


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

*Drury, a maximum pass with
  spade support

10

After North’s Drury two club response to show a maximum pass with fit, South checked for key cards, then bid the spade slam.

West’s lead of the diamond 10 went to dummy’s ace. Declarer needed to hold his losers in the black suits to one, but had to decide which black suit to play first. In these positions, it is sometimes right to go after the side suit first, but here South advanced the trump jack and let it run when East played low. West’s discard of a low heart gave declarer pause. Can you see a good plan for him now?

Declarer’s solution was to throw a club on the diamond ace, then to lead out dummy’s trump 10, covered by the king and ace. Next, he put the club jack on the table — a move that would guarantee the contract as long as East had at least two clubs.

As the cards lay, the defense had no answer to this line of play. If West took the trick with the club queen, declarer would use dummy’s club 10 as an entry to pick up East’s remaining trumps. He would end up with six trumps, a heart, two diamonds and three clubs.

At the table, West allowed the club jack to hold the trick. Declarer continued by cashing the club ace, then ruffing the club eight in dummy. East overruffed this with the seven, but that was the only trick the defense made. Declarer ruffed the return of the diamond queen and drew East’s remaining trump with the ace, after which his hand was high.



Your partner must be weak and unbalanced, since he surely has six clubs but chose not to repeat the suit at his second turn, and then he ran from one no-trump. I’d guess he has one spade and is maybe 4-6 in the minors with 11-12 points. You have no fit, no sure defensive tricks and no reason to think you can beat two spades. Go quietly and pass.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ K 9 7 4
 K J 8 6
 Q 6 3
♣ 5 2
South West North East
    1 ♣ Pass
1 1 ♠ Pass Pass
1 NT Pass 2 ♣ 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 2019. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, May 27th, 2019

Here error is all in the not done,
All in the diffidence that faltered.

Ezra Pound


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

2

When an opponent is faced with a blind opening lead, do you think it more likely that he has underled a king or a jack? Sometimes the fate of a contract will hinge on such a guess, but often declarer can survive guessing wrong — if he is careful.

Take today’s deal, where you drive to four spades on an uninformative sequence and receive the lead of a low heart. Your immediate reaction might be that if West has underled the king, you must fly up with the queen; while if he has underled the jack, you should play low. Is that addressing the problem correctly?

No, it is not, and the reason is that declarer’s heart 10 plays a huge role in the deal. Without that card, you would indeed put up dummy’s queen, but not today. Imagine that you play low from dummy and guess the position incorrectly. East’s jack forces your ace, but all is not lost if you win the lead and return the suit. West will win with his king and can shift to diamonds, but you have time to put up the king and lose the spade finesse to West. You will win the diamond return, shake a losing diamond from dummy on the heart 10, then ruff a diamond in dummy and draw trumps for your 10 tricks.

If the opposing heart honors were switched and you put up the queen, you would lose the chance to build a home for your slow diamond loser on the hearts.

Incidentally, if the first trump finesse succeeds, make sure not to repeat it until you have taken your diamond ruff in dummy.



Leading against no-trump when no suits have been bid is often daunting. Without a long suit of five or more cards or a suit of three or four cards headed by a sequence, my advice is to consider going passive. Avoid giving up a trick if you can, or take your best shot at it if you cannot. With today’s hand, I’d lead a low heart rather than a club, since the club king is so likely to be to my right.

LEAD WITH THE ACES

♠ Q 3 2
 J 8 5
 K 10 8
♣ A Q 4 2
South West North East
      1 NT
All pass      

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

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, May 26th, 2019

How do you feel about opening one no-trump with ♠ 4-3,  A-J-9-7-2,  K-Q-6, ♣ A-K-4? If you open one heart, you will hear partner respond one no-trump. What next?

Space Cadet, Casper, Wyo.

This hand is inappropriate to open one no-trump, in that you are too strong, with a five-card major, and you also have a weak doubleton. Having opened one heart, I can see it might be right to rebid two clubs, but I think I’d prefer a simple raise to two no-trump and let partner decide what to do next.

I play (low-level) bridge with other members of a retirement community averaging about 85 years of age. Vision problems there are fairly common. These are mostly mistakes in suit-symbol recognition. Do you have any suggestions to ameliorate these difficulties?

Rocking Robin, Tempe, Ariz.

There are playing cards with four different-colored suits. Before I get into your concern, have you looked at them as a possible solution? Using black and red for the majors, with either orange/yellow or blue/green for the minors seems best to me. I looked online and saw many references: Search for “Copag four-color double deck.”

Recently I held: ♠ A-Q-9-3-2,  Q-9-3,  A-K-3-2, ♣ 4. My partner responded one no-trump to my one spade, and the next hand butted in with two clubs. What should my double be here? Is this extra values, takeout or penalty? Or would you just bid two diamonds?

John the Divine, Bellingham, Wash.

While there is no firm agreement on what a double means here, I like it to be take-out, and this hand would be ideal. With both majors, you might simply bid hearts instead of doubling. But the double keeps hearts in play, as well as the pass for penalties.

Playing duplicate, declarer came down to four cards in dummy: two good spades and two honors, one of which was high and one that wasn’t. When he claimed the rest, depending on the order he played the cards, I could get one or two of those tricks. What should the director rule here?

Richie Rich, Los Altos, Calif.

This is a tricky problem because declarer is put on notice of his error by your disputing the claim. Typically, a disputed trick is awarded to the nonclaiming side if the losing play was inferior but not irrational. Here, declarer seems to have thought all of dummy’s cards were good. It would be inferior but not irrational to play the cards in the wrong order and give you two tricks rather than one. So two tricks it is.

When you open one no-trump and hear your partner transfer to a major then bid a new suit to show a two-suiter with game-forcing values, how should you rebid at your third turn?

Down Under Dave, Greenville, S.C.

Opener raises the major when he can, and by agreement I suggest you use four of the other minor specifically as a fit for both suits, suitable for slam. With no support for either suit, bid no-trump if you can, but bid a new suit at the three-level to look for no-trump with concern about the fourth suit. In that instance, you may also be planning to bid on over three no-trump, which would convert your previous bid to a cue-bid.


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

The Aces on Bridge: Saturday, May 25th, 2019

That best portion of a good man’s life,
His little, nameless, unremembered acts
Of kindness and love.

William Wordsworth


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

2

Our final example in the theme of negotiating a suit missing the queen and jack will happen to you only once in a lifetime; be ready for it, please!

In the finals of the World Championships in Beijing in 1995, neither the men nor women managed to stop low — indeed, three pairs bid the hands to game, and no one made much of an attempt to make it. Strangely enough, when South declares the hand on a diamond lead, the contract is unbreakable. Of course, South can play for a mundane doubleton queen-jack of trumps, but that will never get you in the papers, will it?

In four hearts, there is no need to rush things; the timing is a little awkward, but it is simplest to finesse the diamond jack at trick one, then play a club. East must take his ace, and a diamond return is as good as any. South wins the ace, plays a spade to the king, then leads the diamond king for a spade discard; now the carding makes it safe to ruff a diamond. Next cash the club king, pitching a spade, ruff a club and exit with a spade from dummy. In the five-card ending, either defender can take this trick, but it is best for West to overtake East’s queen with the ace and cash his side’s second spade trick.

However, declarer is now left with A-9-4 in trumps facing K-10-6, and the defense’s trump trick is about to vanish. When West leads a club, you ruff low in dummy, and whether East ruffs in with the eight or queen, you are home free. A perfect Devil’s coup.



There is as yet no official Wolff’s Law. I have laid down the law in so many areas it would be hard to define just one. Among the conclusions I have come to in a long life at the table is that 4-4-4-1 hands play disappointingly on offense, but always play nicely on defense. Stretching to open three-suited hands is a fine way to turn a plus score into a minus; this hand is a solid pass, not a light opening bid.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ K 10 5 4
 K 10 6 3
 K J 7 4
♣ 9
South West North East
?      
       

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

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, May 24th, 2019

Clowns to the left of me,
Jokers to the right.
Here I am,
Stuck in the middle with you.

Gerry Rafferty


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

*Two or more clubs

♣6

The maneuver shown in today’s deal, known as an intrafinesse, does not come up all that often. It is an episode in this week’s theme of how to develop an extra trick in a suit missing the queen and jack.

Here, South declared three no-trump after opening a short club. West overcalled a natural two clubs over this, and when North produced a negative double, South introduced his four-card major, then owned up to a club stopper when North asked him for one.

After West kicked off with a low club, declarer won with dummy’s 10. He could see his way to something like two clubs, two spades and four heart tricks, but where was the ninth going to come from?

If he tried to set up a diamond, the defenders would surely win the race to establish clubs first. So the extra trick had to come from spades. In order to achieve his target, South crossed to his heart 10 and led a spade to the eight and 10. East shifted to diamonds, and West could see that declarer would likely establish his ninth winner in that suit if left to his own devices. So he played the ace of clubs, then the queen, as East pitched hearts. That let South score his king, but it set up West’s clubs in the process.

However, now declarer cashed the hearts, then took the spade king to drop West’s jack and led dummy’s last spade to his nine. The finesse wasn’t guaranteed to succeed, but declarer was confident that West would have split his honors at trick three if he had begun with Q-J-x of spades.



There are three equally good answers here, and it may be that your personal style will dictate what you do. Raising hearts may lose the spade fit, but bidding spades may lose the heart fit (or force you to overbid to find it). Rebidding one no-trump might lose either fit, but it does define the hand type nicely. I think I’d raise hearts, as long as my partnership style allowed me to.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ A 9 6 2
 K 10 2
 K 5
♣ K 8 7 5
South West North East
1 ♣ Pass 1 Pass
?      

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

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, May 23rd, 2019

I never resist temptation because I have found that things that are bad for me do not tempt me.

George Bernard Shaw


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

*Natural, promising values

♠K

This deal is part of our weekly overview of a general theme: handling a suit where we are missing the queen and jack. When the auction has marked one defender as more likely than his partner to hold length in a suit, we have safety plays to guard against the bad split. Today’s deal is a horse of a slightly different color.

When West pre-empted to two spades, South doubled, to which his partner responded three clubs to show constructive values. With less, he would have used the Lebensohl convention, bidding two no-trump as an artificial negative.

In four hearts, South ducked the spade lead, won the second round and noted that the only real danger was a hostile trump break. He could not guard against most breaks where West was short, but he had a play that was technically sound and also gave the defenders a chance to err. After taking the spade ace, he led the heart nine from dummy, a play that would pin a bare eight in West and would also allow East to fall from grace with a knee-jerk cover. East did precisely that by putting in the 10, and South won, collecting West’s queen in the process.

Declarer now led a diamond to the king and played a second trump, ducking East’s eight. East returned a diamond; declarer won his ace, crossed to the club ace and took the trump finesse, then drew the last trump. Then he played the club king and another club, conceding a club trick, after which his hand was high.



I would be unhappy about bidding either two or three clubs here. First, I might not have as much of a fit as I expected. Second, one call is an underbid, and the other overstates my offensive possibilities. I’d settle for a slightly flawed two-no-trump response, despite having only one diamond stopper. I’m the diamond jack short of my action — sue me!

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ A 9 4
 9 5 4
 K 6 2
♣ A 9 3 2
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 2019. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Wednesday, May 22nd, 2019

Lars Porsena of Clusium
By the Nine Gods he swore
That the great house of Tarquin
Should suffer wrong no more.

Lord Macaulay


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

*Spades

♣10

Our themed deals this week all feature tackling suits where we are missing both the queen and the jack. Often the subsidiary cards influence our line of attack, and today’s deal is no exception.

Bringing home three no-trump after the lead of an interior club won’t be easy; we need to overcome not one but two hurdles. The first essential move is to duck the initial club lead. There is no shift we are particularly afraid of, but if clubs are 5-2 (as they are here), we may find we need to cut the defenders’ communications with a duck on the first round.

Winning the club continuation in hand, we then need to consider which major suit to go after, and the decision is pretty close. In favor of playing on hearts is the presence of better intermediates. But (and it is a big but) we need to exploit those intermediates to the fullest by leading to the heart nine. This succeeds not only against any 3-3 break, but also whenever West has both heart honors, and critically when he has a doubleton heart honor.

Today, east will win his heart honor, but has no third club to lead. The best he can do is shift to a high diamond spot, to the 10 and ace. In due course, we can unblock hearts, come back to hand in spades, and run the hearts. That brings us to four hearts, one diamond and two tricks in each of the black suits, nine in all.

Notice that playing the king of hearts, then the nine, will see us lose two heart tricks.



Your partner is virtually certain to have four spades and longer clubs. (With a balanced hand, he would bid one no-trump; with three diamonds, he would surely double one heart for takeout.) So don’t panic: Revert to two clubs, giving partner preference back to his first suit.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ Q 7
 J 8 6 4
 J 7 6 3 2
♣ J 8
South West North East
    1 ♣ Dbl.
Pass 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 2019. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.