Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Saturday, July 26th, 2014

Wherever we go, across the Pacific or Atlantic, we meet, not similarity so much as the bizarre. Things astonish us, when we travel, that surprise nobody else.

Mary Ritter Beard


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

♣6

One of the most interesting play or defend problems from the summer nationals last July in Atlanta confronted Glenn Milgrim, who declared three spades doubled, after some optimistic bidding from both members of his partnership.

Milgrim won the club lead and ducked a diamond to East, Richard Oshlag, who resisted the temptation to play trumps when declarer would have set up the diamonds. Instead, he carefully reverted to clubs to kill the dummy entry.

Oshlag won the heart exit from dummy to play a trump, and declarer could take only two aces and six trump tricks when West, Paul Munafo, ducked his trump king.

Afterwards, Milgrim was kicking himself for missing a beautiful play. The way home at trick four is to play the diamond ace and ruff a diamond, after which you must ruff a club — but take care to ruff with the spade ace.

When dummy next leads a winning diamond, East must ruff in and declarer overruffs. If West discards, declarer will ruff a club in dummy for his ninth trick, so West must overruff and cash a heart. He must then exit with a trump to stop the crossruff, but thanks to that earlier high ruff, declarer can overtake dummy’s spade jack with his queen, draw trumps, and give up a club. He still has a trump to go with his fifth and master club. His nine tricks are four trumps in hand, the diamond ace, two clubs and two ruffs.


Your partner's two-club call is natural and nonforcing. Should you go back to spades here? I think so, though it is very close. Admittedly, your partner could rebid a chunky five-card spade suit, so he is as likely to have clubs equal to or longer than his spades. But you do have only three clubs, and he will be expecting more.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ K 5 4
 A Q 4 2
 7 6 2
♣ K 9 6
South West North East
1♣ Pass 1♠ Pass
1 NT Pass 2♣ Pass
?      

For details of Bobby Wolff’s autobiography, The Lone Wolff, contact theLoneWolff@bridgeblogging.com. If you would like to contact Bobby Wolff, please leave a comment at this blog. Reproduced with permission of United Feature Syndicate, Inc., Copyright 2014. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, July 25th, 2014

The greater the ignorance the greater the dogmatism.

Sir William Osler


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

K

The junior and schools teams championships were contested in Atlanta last summer. When the last board of the Australia-Turkey semifinals started, Turkey had a comfortable lead.

Both tables in the match reached six clubs and the Australian East, led and continued diamonds, forcing declarer, Berk Gokce, to ruff. Gokce played his club ace and saw the trump void in West. He followed with dummy’s small trump to this trick, a slight but fatal error.

He next cashed the top hearts and ruffed the third heart with the trump queen in dummy. Then came a trump from dummy, which East covered with the nine and declarer won with the 10. Now declarer went to dummy with the spade king and led dummy’s remaining trump, the eight.

This time East did not cover, and declarer could not let the eight hold or he would be stranded in dummy, so had to overtake and eventually concede the setting trick to the trump jack.

Declarer had to unblock the club seven or eight under his ace on the first round of trump. Then he would have been left with the club two in the dummy in the ending. He would have finessed in clubs, ending up in his hand.

When slam made in the other room after a diamond lead and spade shift (and yes, the contract should have been defeated after that start), Australia qualified for the finals, where they lost to a strong American team.


It looks simple to bid one spade rather than redouble, since you really cannot expect to defend successfully to both red suits. The one-spade call is simply natural and unlimited except by the original pass. One other possible call is a fit-jump to two spades, though that would typically show five spades and four clubs.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ A K 9 6
 8 7
 7 3 2
♣ Q 8 7 2
South West North East
Pass
Pass Pass 1♣ Dbl.
?      

For details of Bobby Wolff’s autobiography, The Lone Wolff, contact theLoneWolff@bridgeblogging.com. If you would like to contact Bobby Wolff, please leave a comment at this blog. Reproduced with permission of United Feature Syndicate, Inc., Copyright 2014. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, July 24th, 2014

Had I said that, had I done this,
So might I gain, so might I miss.

Robert Browning


North North
Neither ♠ K Q 7 5
 6 4
 A Q 10 8 3
♣ 8 2
West East
♠ 9 8 4
 J 9 7 3 2
 —
♣ 10 7 6 5 4
♠ 10 6 3 2
 K Q 10 8
 K 5
♣ K 9 3
South
♠ A J
 A 5
 J 9 7 6 4 2
♣ A Q J
South West North East
1 Dbl.
Rdbl. 1 Pass Pass
2 Pass 2♠ Pass
3 NT All pass    

3

Kit Woolsey reported this deal to the Daily Bulletin as a missed opportunity from the Grand National Teams event at the Atlanta Nationals last summer.

When North opens a Precision diamond, showing diamonds or a minimum balanced hand, East doubles and you,as South, end up not in the laydown six diamonds but in three no-trump. When West leads a fourth-highest heart three, you have your work cut out to avoid turning your bad board into a catastrophe.

There are two plausible lines that spring to mind. The first is to win the heart ace, unblock spades, lead a diamond to the ace, cash the spades, and play a club to your jack. Now, with no entries to dummy, you will need to find East with a doubleton club king. Not impossible, but unlikely.

The second line is to take the heart ace, play the spade ace, then overtake your spade jack to take the club finesse. Then you can try to guess diamonds. The problem here is that you have only gained your extra entry to dummy at the cost of a spade trick. Both of these lines fail. However, you may feel you should have spotted the winning line when I show it to you.

Win the heart ace, cash the spade ace and jack, then cut loose with a heart. After four rounds of hearts, the opponents will have to lead a spade or a club (West being void in diamonds) and give you the extra dummy entry you need.


I'm fairly conservative on the subject of opening 11-counts, but this is a hand that cries out to be opened. With an easy rebid over partner's likely one-heart response, and all my values in my long suits (with a couple of strategically placed 10s), I would deem this to be a far better hand than a balanced 12-count.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ K Q 7 5
 6 4
 A Q 10 8 3
♣ 8 2
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 2014. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Wednesday, July 23rd, 2014

It doesn't matter if you're born in a duck yard, so long as you are hatched from a swan's egg!

Hans Christian Andersen


East North
Neither ♠ A K Q J
 A J 10
 9 8 5
♣ 6 5 3
West East
♠ 10 9 6 2
 9 7 5 2
 10 4
♣ A Q 2
♠ 8
 K Q 6 4 3
 Q J 7 3 2
♣ 8 4
South
♠ 7 5 4 3
 8
 A K 6
♣ K J 10 9 7
South West North East
Pass
2♣* Pass 2** Pass
2♠ Pass 4♠ All pass

*Natural, 11-15 HCP.

**Inquiry

10

Mark Itabashi and Ross Grabel won the von Zedtwitz Life Master Pairs in Atlanta last summer. The following deal helped their cause.

If the defenders lead a heart against four spades, declarer wins, tests trumps, then plays on clubs. Whatever the defenders do, he can arrange to set up clubs and neutralize West’s trumps to make 10 tricks.

However, Itabashi actually led the diamond 10 to the ace. Declarer thought it would be smooth sailing until he ran into an unexpected surprise middeal. He played two rounds of trumps, revealing the annoying 4-1 split, and now had to go after clubs. Declarer played a club to the 10, which held the trick. Believing that there were 11 easy tricks available at this point, declarer crossed to another trump in dummy and played a club to the nine. Itabashi now produced the queen and led another diamond.

South’s hand was now dead. Whether he drew the last trump or knocked out the club ace first, there was no way to make the contract. The best he could have done was play the heart ace and ruff a heart, but that still yieldeded only nine tricks. He actually cleared clubs, and now Itabashi won to return yet another trump and doom declarer to two down.

Just for the record, the only winning line today after a diamond lead is to play on clubs after drawing just one round of trumps. Then declarer can arrange either to ruff hearts in hand or establish the clubs.


Your partner's double emphasizes takeout. There is some merit in considering going to the six-level, but with no first-round controls, your objective is to reach your best game. You might just bid five hearts at pairs, but you can also show a two-suiter with a call of four no-trump. Partner will assume the minors and you will correct his five-club call to five diamonds to reach the better red-suit fit.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ 8
 K Q 6 4 3
 Q J 7 3 2
♣ 8 4
South West North East
2♠
Pass 4♠ 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 2014. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, July 22nd, 2014

Everyone suspects himself of at least one of the cardinal virtues, and this is mine: I am one of the few honest people that I have ever known.

F. Scott Fitzgerald


North North
Neither ♠ K 5
 K 8 7 5 4
 A 6 4
♣ K 7 4
West East
♠ 7 3
 A 9 3
 J 10 9 3
♣ A 10 5 2
♠ A 10 9 8 6
 Q 10
 K 8 7 5
♣ J 8
South
♠ Q J 4 2
 J 6 2
 Q 2
♣ Q 9 6 3
South West North East
1 1♠
1 NT All pass    

♠7

Sometimes virtue is not rewarded and crime goes unpunished. In this deal from last year's Summer Nationals in Atlanta, one could argue that the result was more humorous than tragic — but it does depend a little on which side of the table you were sitting.

Bobby Levin, West, gave the Daily Bulletin the following deal to see if its readers knew their textbook plays. You lead the spade seven against one no-trump, which goes to the king, ace, and two. East now plays back the spade 10, which goes to South’s jack. Declarer leads the heart two, to your three, dummy’s seven, and the 10. Partner now plays the spade eight to dislodge declarer’s queen. What do you discard?

Levin could reconstruct the whole hand. South’s failure to raise hearts suggested he had a doubleton heart and so East had the Q-J-10. Therefore, to create an entry to his partner’s hand, the right play was to jettison the heart ace. Now declarer could no longer establish hearts without letting East cash out that suit.

Right play but the wrong hand for this maneuver as you will see when you look at the full diagram. After Bobby’s discard, declarer had no trouble in leading a heart to the king, dropping East’s queen, and now ran hearts for plus 120 and all the matchpoints.

Still, at least Levin could be consoled that it got him into the newspaper — and thanks, Bobby, for being such a good sport as to report it!


You are way too good for a bid of three no-trump, and a case could be made for a simple bid of six clubs. But your partner might have stretched to get his clubs in without real extras, so start with a cuebid of three diamonds, planning to find a forcing club raise at your next turn one way or another.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ K 5
 K 8 7 5 4
 A 6 4
♣ K 7 4
South West North East
1♣ Pass
1 2 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 2014. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, July 21st, 2014

I to my perils
Of cheat and charmer
Came clad in armour
By stars benign.

A.E. Housman


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

8

The summer nationals are currently being held in Las Vegas. Therefore all the deals this week come from last year's national championships held in Atlanta.

Imagine that you have reached three no-trump on this deal. (You may not like that first double, but that is what happened at the table, and the options are not especially attractive.) The defenders lead hearts, of course, and can set up their suit while still apparently retaining plenty of entries with which to get in and cash out their suit. Does declarer have any chance now?

As Edgar Kaplan said, where there are eight tricks there are always nine. Declarer can reasonably expect East to be 5-5 in the majors and thus to be the hand brought under pressure.

Declarer simply wins the heart ace and runs five clubs. On the last club, East (who can keep only seven cards) is caught in a triple-squeeze. He wants to hold onto the spade K-Q, his four remaining hearts and the guarded diamond king — but the laws do not permit that.

If East pitches a spade or a diamond, you get your extra tricks from that suit at once. If he lets go of a heart, you can duck a spade and set up that suit, and the opponents will have only three heart tricks to cash before you get in with the diamond ace and take the two further spade winners that you need for your contract.


With a choice of unacceptable alternatives here, on an auction where declarer rates to have club and heart length and partner seems unlikely to have that much in spades, a club is the best shot at a passive lead. A spade seems likely to give up a natural trick in the suit but is hardly less attractive. There might be a case for the diamond ace, but I'm just not brave enough.

LEAD WITH THE ACES

♠ K J 8 5 3
 Q 4
 A 10 6 4
♣ 5 4
South West North East
1♣
1♠ Dbl. 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 2014. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, July 20th, 2014

I know that if I open the bidding and jump to two no-trump over a one-level suit response, it shows 18-19 points or maybe a good 17. Does that also apply after partner responds one no-trump (whether the call is forcing or nonforcing)? I thought that this could be slightly less — maybe 16-17.

Finagler, Newark, N.J.

The values for the two-no-trump call remain the same, no matter what the response — though it depends slightly on your range for the one-no-trump response. Some play the response of one no-trump to one club as 8-10 (not a very popular style anymore) when the raise to two no-trump could be a little lighter.

Could you give me an unbiased summary of what discarding method you would recommend for a beginner to duplicate? Ease of recall should be a factor!

Help Wanted, Nashville, Tenn.

Standard signals, where you throw high cards in the suit you like, are easy to abuse — because one tends to let go cards one cannot afford, often to tell partner something he knows already. The same applies to a lesser degree to reverse signals. There are three equivalent methods I do not have space to discuss in detail: Lavinthal (or suit-preference), revolving discards, and odd-even discards. Each uses a discard in one suit to indicate which of the other suits you prefer. I think odd-even is slightly the most flexible. Check out the Cornhusker Bridge website for more information.

I know about negative doubles by responder at his first turn, but would you clarify what a double by responder on the second round should mean after his LHO comes into the auction. For example, after the auction 1  – Pass — 1 ♠ – (2 ♣) — Pass — Pass, is my hand suitable for a double, holding: ♠ A-Q-6-4,  K-6-5,  Q-9-5-4, ♣ J-3? Or should I simply raise diamonds?

In a Rut, Casper, Wyo.

Here an invitational jump to three diamonds would not be absurd (you may have 12 points, but your hand does not suggest game will be easy your way). If you double, that is for takeout — typically not very short in clubs, though. If you double and subsequently raise diamonds, it would suggest a good hand, though maybe only three-card support.

I have decided to teach an intermediate class on basic bidding. I want them to understand the general rules on what auctions are forcing and what are nonforcing. Just for the record, most of these students don't play 2/1. In current bidding rules, is it true that a new suit by opener is forcing for one round if responder has introduced a new suit at the two-level — and does that also apply by a passed hand?

Faust, Eau Claire, Wis.

Your first statement is true, but there may not be clear agreement in the second instance. The answer is yes, but it is more about partnership agreement than anything else. The logic is that opener is unlimited, and should not have to jump to create a force. I agree that the two-level response by a passed hand shows values, but does not guarantee a second call after opener has shown a minimum hand.

How would you rate the possible courses of action on this unopposed sequence: 1 ♣ - 1  - 1 ♠ - 3 ♣? As dealer I had: ♠ A-Q-10-5,  8-5,  9, ♣ A-Q-10-8-3-2 and passed because I held a minimum in high cards, but my partner suggested I should have reraised to four clubs with my extra shape.

Timid Tim, Lincoln, N.H.

Your hand is worth driving all the way to five clubs. With your extra shape and prime honors in your long suits, there are probably more hands where game is laydown or on a finesse, than where it is not. For example, give partner as little as a black king plus an ace, with a doubleton spade. Respect your extra club length and fine honor structure — this would be a far worse hand with queen-fourth of spades and the bare diamond 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 2014. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Saturday, July 19th, 2014

Diplomacy means the art of nearly deceiving all your friends, but not quite deceiving all your enemies.

Kofi Busia


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

*Strong

3

Sometimes second hand high by the defense will start a completely wrong train of thought for declarer. On this deal, my regular teammate, Hugh Ross, was caught out by the ingenious defense of Vino Bisht of the Netherlands.

The defense to three no-trump started with a diamond to the ace and a low club from dummy, on which Bisht imaginatively rose with the queen! He could see that unless his partner had both the club king and jack, three no-trump was virtually bound to make. He shifted to the diamond 10, and Ross decided to duck this trick. That play would have been correct if he kept West off play and neutralized the diamonds, and the play thus far had persuaded Ross that East had either the club king or jack. By contrast, covering the diamond 10 might have let West duck the trick; now when East got on lead in clubs, another diamond through would spell curtains for the contract.

However Bisht could now clear the diamonds, and Ross took the fourth round of the suit, then played a club to the ace and another club. He assumed that East, the nondanger hand, would take this trick; instead van Oppen won and cashed the fifth diamond for one down.

In the other room, Hans Kreyns won the diamond ace and led a club to the eight and jack. He ducked the diamond return, won the fourth round of the suit, then ducked a club to East and had nine tricks.


This would be a harder problem if your partner were not a passed hand, As it is, you should play the double as takeout and bid two diamonds. Personally, I play that even by a passed hand this is a rare double of one no-trump for takeout, not penalty. Even if partner is strong, either opener or responder will be running to safety — or you won't have your bid. Either way, a penalty double won't get you rich.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ A Q 7 5 4
 Q 6
 Q J 6 5
♣ 8 3
South West North East
Pass 1♣
1♠ 1 NT 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 2014. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, July 18th, 2014

Those whose conduct gives room for talk are always the first to attack their neighbors.

Moliere


North North
Neither ♠ Q
 A K 10
 Q J 9 5 3 2
♣ A 10 7
West East
♠ 5 2
 7 5 3 2
 K 7
♣ J 9 5 3 2
♠ K J 10 7 6 4
 8 6 4
 A 8
♣ Q 4
South
♠ A 9 8 3
 Q J 9
 10 6 4
♣ K 8 6
South West North East
1 1♠
1 NT Pass 3 Pass
3 NT All pass    

♠5

In today's deal both tables played three no-trump, but at one table it was North who was declarer; in the other room it was South.

Where North was declarer, the lead was the spade jack, and declarer won in hand with the queen, and still had two spade guards left, while needing to knock out the ace and king of diamonds. So he had no trouble coming to 10 tricks.

In the other room West led the spade five in the auction shown. Declarer captured East’s king with his ace, and West won the first diamond and pressed on with spades. Now the defenders could set up their spades while retaining the diamond ace as an entry to the suit, beating the game by two tricks. How many mistakes were made here?

The last mistake was declarer’s. If he ducks the spade king, the defenders cannot both set up and cash out the spades, since when West wins the diamond king he will have no spades left. And there is no shift that will help the defenders at trick two.

However, East was also at fault. The opening lead made it clear that declarer held two spade stoppers. With just one side-entry, East should compel South to use one of those stoppers at once, by declining to cover dummy’s singleton spade queen.

Now when West gets in with the diamond king, he can establish the spade suit before East’s diamond ace is removed.


The point here needs to be made occasionally, if only to reinforce it to everyone: Bidding a major over a one-diamond overcall promises a minimum of just four cards. But if the opponents overcall one heart, you double with four spades and bid the suit with five. So bid one spade here, rather than make a negative double, which would guarantee both majors, typically with four cards in each.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ A 9 8 3
 Q J 9
 10 6 4
♣ K 8 6
South West North East
1♣ 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 2014. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, July 17th, 2014

The man who makes no mistakes does not usually make anything.

Edward Phelps


South North
Neither ♠ A 8 3 2
 J 8 7 3
 10 8 6 4
♣ K
West East
♠ 5 4
 9
 9 7 5 3 2
♣ Q 10 8 6 4
♠ Q J 10
 Q 5 4 2
 K J
♣ A J 5 3
South
♠ K 9 7 6
 A K 10 6
 A Q
♣ 9 7 2
South West North East
1 NT Pass 2♣ Pass
2 Pass 4 All pass

♣4

The Italians currently have the world's best team, but bridge is a game of mistakes and they make theirs, just like everyone else, even if not quite so many as other people. See if you can improve on the Italian cardplay on this deal.

Against South’s four hearts, reached after an uninterrupted auction, West led the club four, playing third and lowest leads, to the king and ace, and East switched to the spade queen. The Italian declarer won in hand, ruffed a club, played a heart to his ace, and ruffed his last club with the heart jack. Now he played a diamond to the king and ace, followed by a spade to his ace and another spade, won by East’s jack. East got off lead with the diamond jack, and when declarer played the heart king, he found the bad break, which meant he had to lose two more trump tricks one way or another.

The winning line is to play a spade in the four-card ending. East ruffs this and either plays a trump — allowing the finesse — or a club, which declarer can ruff low in hand and overruff in the dummy, to lead a diamond for the trump coup.

There were good reasons to suspect trumps were going to break 4-1. The 5-2 diamond break looked highly probable, and East was known to have precisely three spades. Moreover, West’s lead of the club four (once East had released the club three) meant he strongly rated to have led from a five-card suit.


On this auction there is a very good case to play three clubs as your second negative and not two no-trump. The logic is that, with three no-trump a very likely final contract, you want the strong hand to be declarer — so the lead runs up to it, rather than coming through it. Therefore, I would bid three clubs here to deny values.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ 5 4
 9
 9 7 5 3 2
♣ Q 10 8 6 4
South West North East
2♣ 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 2014. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.