Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, February 1st, 2018

When the loo paper gets thicker and the writing paper thinner, it’s always a bad sign at home.

Nancy Mitford


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

5

The solution to today’s problem may be slightly counterintuitive, but once you’ve seen it, you’ll know it is clearly the best play.

The deal was played a few months ago in the Common Game all around the U.S. When I checked the frequencies, remarkably few players had brought home their game.

At the table I was watching, South declared three no-trump after an auction that strongly suggested that bad breaks could be expected, since East-West had bid to the three-level on a wing and prayer while vulnerable.

West led the heart five to East’s ace. Back came a second heart, which declarer won, discarding a spade from dummy. He led a club to the king and ace, won the next heart, pitching a second spade from dummy, and visibly gulped when diamonds broke 4-0 on him. He tried cashing out the clubs, but East simply threw away his small spade and a heart winner, and declarer could set up — but not reach — his spade winner in hand.

The winning line is to test diamonds at trick three. When the 4-0 break comes to light, South knocks out the club ace, wins the heart return, pitching a diamond from dummy, and then runs the clubs. He comes down to a five-card ending where both he and dummy have three diamonds and two spades and he has lost only two tricks so far.

East must keep three diamonds and one spade winner, so he can keep only one heart. Declarer draws out the spade ace, pitches the diamond loser on East’s heart winner, and has the rest.


While it looks normal to respond two clubs, I have been around off-shape doubles enough to be suspicious of introducing feeble minor suits when I don’t have to. Here, I prefer the call of one no-trump, since when nobody bids the majors, I expect to find partner with both majors and 3-2 in the minors. If West has six running diamonds, he may yet bid the suit again and take me off the hook.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ K 7
 K Q 6
 8 5 4 3
♣ 9 8 7 4
South West North East
Pass 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 2018. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Wednesday, January 31st, 2018

My mind was always very cluttered, so I took great pains to simplify my environment, because if my environment were half as cluttered as my mind, I wouldn’t be able to make it from room to room.

Leonard Cohen


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

*Hearts

♣10

Today’s deal is from the Bridge with Larry Cohen Newsletter, which Cohen mails out free, three times a month. It contains articles, lessons and quizzes.

Today’s deal was played at a high-level IMP game in Boca Raton, Florida. North opened with an off-shape no-trump, but recovered by cue-bidding in support of diamonds to steer South to the diamond slam.

West led a club, and declarer rose with dummy’s ace, then led a low diamond and captured East’s jack with the ace. South knew that East had started either with the jack alone, or king-jack bare. So, with a sure trump loser, he set about disposing of his club loser by playing three rounds of spades. West ruffed and had the diamond king for down one.

Cohen advocates playing on hearts rather than spades, which should succeed as long as hearts aren’t 5-1 or 6-0. West seems to have begun with either 7-2 or K-7-2 of diamonds. When a heart to the queen and another one back to the ace both pass off peacefully, you can safely play the heart king. If West follows, dummy’s club loser departs — and even if East trumps, it will be with the king. But if East is out of trumps, what can West do? He can trump with the king, when you pitch dummy’s club loser, or if West ruffs low, dummy will over-ruff. Then declarer plays on spades to throw his club loser from hand. The diamond king will be the only trick for the defense.

You can find details at www.larryco.com.


You may think you know what contract you wish to end up in, but blasting three no-trump achieves nothing except making sure you are declarer (possibly in the wrong contract). You can always get to three no-trump later, and it is much better to explore with a call of two diamonds, the fourth suit, setting up a game force. Why tell partner what he has when you can ask him?

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ K 2
 A K 7 6 4
 A 10 8 3
♣ 6 3
South West North East
  Pass 1 ♣ Pass
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 2018. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, January 30th, 2018

We are using resources as if we had two planets, not one. There can be no ‘plan B’ because there is no ‘planet B.’

Ban Ki-Moon


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

♣Q

When South opens one no-trump, North uses Stayman and sets the contract in four hearts. On the lead of the club queen, East flies up with the ace and continues the suit. Declarer wins the king and has to decide on a plan. What would you do in his position?

You appear to have a loser in each red suit and two in clubs. How are you going to reduce four losers to three? Your best bet appears to be the spade finesse. After winning the club king, cross to the diamond ace and take the spade finesse. If it loses, you may go two down in your game, but this is a risk you should be prepared to take. When the finesse wins, you unblock spades, cross to the heart king, pitch your club loser on the spades and lead a second trump. If East follows low, you can afford the safety play of the finesse, since if this loses to the queen or jack, you can regain the lead and draw the last trump. If East splits his honors, you win the ace and play the king and another diamond, and the defenders score only one diamond and one trump trick.

Well played, but have you noticed an unusual resource available to the defense? If East ducks his club ace at the first trick, the defenders retain the upper hand. If declarer embarks on the same line as above, East still has an entry to keep South from scoring his trumps separately. No matter what declarer tries, the defense has a countermeasure.


Does it shock you to bid a second time with “only” 5 points? I hope not, because balancing over two hearts with a call of two no-trump to show the minors looks very reasonable to me. Your partner must have been prepared to hear you bid at least one of the minors when he doubled. You may not buy the perfect dummy, but if nonvulnerable I think the potential reward is clearly worth the risk.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ 10 8 6 3
 6
 Q 9 8 2
♣ Q J 10 2
South West North East
Pass 1 ♠ Dbl. Pass
2 ♣ 2 Pass 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, January 29th, 2018

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

Douglas Jerrold


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

*Transfer to spades

Q

Andrew Robson’s latest book, “Counting and Card Placement,” deals with many critical aspects of card play. As Robson says, tallying your quick and slow losers can be essential in determining the best line of play. For example, plan the play in four spades here, on the lead of the diamond queen.

While you have four spade, two heart, two diamond and two club winners, the problem is that you may also have four losers. (Effectively, you will take the tenth and last of your winners at trick 14!)

Say you win the first diamond and lead a spade. The opponents will win the ace and lead a second diamond. You will win the ace and draw trump to lead a heart. But the opponents can win and cash their third-round diamond winner, plus the club ace, for down one.

Agreed, you have to lose the three aces, but you can do something about that pesky slow diamond loser. It can be discarded on a heart, but you must set up the discard quickly — leading a trump loses a vital tempo. Instead, you must lead the heart at trick two.

There is a final wrinkle. If you win the diamond king at trick one to lead to the diamond queen, the defenders can duck, win the second heart and lead a second diamond. You will then have no way back to hand to cash the third heart and eliminate the diamond loser. Instead, win trick one with the diamond ace, then set up hearts, with the diamond re-entry to hand still in place.


It feels right to lead spades rather than clubs. (The club lead is by no means safe, while the worst a spade can do is lead a suit that declarer could not play for himself.) If you are going to attack spades, the right card is the nine, since you have raised spades and already shown three cards in the suit. Had you not raised, you would lead low.

LEAD WITH THE ACES

♠ 9 6 3
 K 3 2
 K 4
♣ J 9 7 4 2
South West North East
  Pass 1 ♠ Dbl.
2 ♠ Pass Pass 3
All pass      

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

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, January 28th, 2018

I happened to see your column recently, as a retiree living in Bentonville, Arizona. I have a lot of time on my hands. Do you have any suggestions as to where I might go to learn bridge? I played for a little while in Vietnam, when it helped to keep our mind off other things.

Green Giant, Bentonville, Ariz.

I think the best (and cheapest, and most efficient) way to explore your options is to call 1-800-264-2743. This is the telephone number for ACBL. You can reach a real person who will tell you about clubs in your area. But I also googled Bentonville bridge clubs, and I suspect you may find your answer if you do the same.

In fourth chair, I held ♠ A-J-4,  Q-10-6-3,  Q-J-3, ♣ Q-7-4 at pairs. My partner opened one club, and I responded an invitational two no-trump, figuring I had no ruffing values and hoping to conceal my hand from my opponents if we ended in no-trump. Should my partner with 3-4-3-3 shape and 14 points bid on? The opponents allowed me to take nine tricks, while the rest of the room made nine tricks in hearts (mostly in game).

Lumberjack, Detroit, Mich.

Your partner should surely have accepted the invitation with a good 14. I do not blame you for bidding two no-trump — it may be against the field, but it might still be right (as here), even facing four hearts. As you can see, matchpoints often involves non-bridge considerations.

I notice you play an extremely simple convention card in comparison to most of the world’s other experts. If we were to rewind your clock some 40 years, would you adopt a more sophisticated system? The reason I ask is that I have a hunch that most of today’s conventions work well only half the time. In the long term, there is no gain, no loss. In other words, we’re just as well off without them as with them.

Mike Drop, Albuquerque, N.M.

Even top players who may basically feel the same way about the game itself often differ on specifics in incalculable ways. If given a chance, and I were 40 years younger, I would play a sophisticated relay system, but only with a player who was willing and able to work to learn the methods and iron out all the kinks.

I’d welcome your opinion on a recent deal. I held ♠ A-4,  Q-4,  A-10-9-8-6-5-4-3, ♣ 2, with neither side vulnerable. I heard my right-hand opponent open one club in second seat. Would you pre-empt in diamonds, and if so, to what level?

Aces and Spaces, Levittown, Pa.

Non-vulnerable, a jump to four diamonds seems about right. Vulnerable, a call of three diamonds seems sufficient, but it is a blind guess! In situations like this, you do not know if you want the next hand to bid on or not, so it is hard to judge in which direction to try to push them.

I have just formed a new partnership with a player who is somewhat older than I, and to whom I feel I should pay respect. We have a few occasional disasters like everyone, I suppose. The problem is that when we have one or two bad or unlucky hands, my partner loses discipline. What would you tell him? I’m sure this happened to you once or twice, so what did you do in such a position?

Learning Curve, Mitchell, S.D.

I tell my partners: “I don’t mind a disaster, but I do mind the second disaster when you were still thinking about the first. You can’t change the past result, but you can influence the next one!”


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, January 27th, 2018

To consult the statistician after an experiment is finished is often merely to ask him to conduct a post mortem examination. He can perhaps say what the experiment died of.

Ronald Fisher


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

K

In the Grand National Open Teams at the New South Wales Bridge Association, two strong Australian teams met, and both declarers passed the test they were set.

Against four spades, West led the heart king, then the queen, which East overtook. He returned a club, won in hand by declarer, Andrew Peake. Then came the spade two. West inserted the 10, and East showed out when the ace was played from dummy. Peake now played a diamond to the king, then the 10, covered with the jack and ace, then a further diamond was ruffed in hand. A club to the queen followed, then a second diamond was ruffed.

South cashed the club king, on which dummy’s last diamond departed. He continued with his low club, and with nothing but trumps left, West could make just one further trick.

Incidentally, had East followed to the third diamond, declarer would have played four rounds of clubs, ruffing in dummy, then ruffed a diamond with an intermediate trump to achieve the same ending.

The same line was taken by Paul Gosney at the second table, which was even more impressive, since he wasn’t doubled.

A better defense would have been for East to lead a third heart at trick three. When declarer ruffs in hand and West pitches a club, declarer will have to take care not to play trump at all. Instead, he strips off two clubs and four diamonds, and in the four-card ending leads a club from hand, under-ruffing West’s trump honor and endplaying him to concede the rest.


Your partner has invited game, suggesting about 11 HCP and three spades. Your great controls and nice honor structure suggest you have enough to accept the invitation. Your points in your long suits mean that only your weak spade spots might give you a moment’s pause before bidding on.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ K 8 6 3 2
 9 2
 K 10
♣ A K 5 2
South West North East
1 ♠ Pass 1 NT 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 2018. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, January 26th, 2018

How many things we held yesterday as articles of faith which today we tell as fables.

Michel de Montaigne


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

♠2

This column has recently reported back on the exploits of Goldilocks and the Three Bears at the Ursine Bridge Club. Today’s deal saw Goldilocks toiling over the repair of a broken chair at home, when the Bears returned from their foray into duplicate. It didn’t take long before Papa Bear prepared to regale her with his performance on this challenging deal.

On the auction shown, Papa had reached six no-trump, a contract that appears to depend on the play in the heart suit. When asked what line he had followed, Papa revealed that he had cashed the king and led up to dummy. When only small cards appeared, he worked out that the only doubleton that would help him was the doubleton nine in East, so he put up the 10 and lived happily ever after.

“You were lucky,” remarked Mama Bear bitterly. “I also played six no-trump and won the spade lead to play a heart toward my king. When East put up the nine, I now had the losing option of playing East for a doubleton jack-nine or queen-nine. I misguessed and went down a trick.”

Baby Bear had seemed close to exploding but was finally allowed to get a word in edgewise. “I didn’t have to guess hearts,” he remarked. When asked to explain, he said that his partner as South had bid four spades over four diamonds, agreeing diamonds, and that led to a contract of seven diamonds. Even after a trump lead, it was easy to ruff out the hearts and take 13 tricks without any problems.


The jump to four clubs is not Gerber but a splinter, setting diamonds as trump and showing short clubs. You cannot use Blackwood since you might need to find a heart control to make a small or grand slam, but you can temporize with four diamonds and hope to hear your partner show a heart control.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ Q
 A 10 8 7 5
 A K 10 9 4
♣ 7 3
South West North East
1 Pass 1 ♠ Pass
2 Pass 4 ♣ 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, January 25th, 2018

I inherited Rome as brick and left it Marble.

Emperor Augustus


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

♣J

Today’s deal comes from a bridge magazine and was created more than 60 years ago. Put yourself in South’s seat and see if you can find a way to conjure up a 12th trick from the remarkably few straws that can be put together to make a brick.

You declare six no-trump on the lead of the club jack and can see at once that you have 12 easy tricks if diamonds break. Your best subsidiary chance comes at trick one: If East wastes his ace, you will have a finesse position in clubs to allow you to come home. But no, East thoughtfully plays low, and you win your club king. You then cash the diamond ace to get the bad news. Are you going to take your ball and go home?

The winning line requires a misdefense, but when you see it, you might ask yourself if you would have fallen for it. You cross to a spade in dummy and advance the heart jack. When East covers — wouldn’t you? — you win, unblock your last heart winner and run the spades.

You reduce to a four-card ending where West needs to keep his heart 10 and three diamonds, or concede at once. You exit with a heart, and West must win, only to be endplayed into giving you the three diamond tricks you need for your slam.

Because covering the heart jack with the king is probably right if declarer began with three hearts, it is hard to criticize East too much for failing to find the winning defense of ducking the heart jack.


You may be able to construct hands where four spades plays better than three no-trump, but most of those hands are ones where your partner might have raised spades, with three-card support and an open suit. In practice, you will belong in game here most of the time, and the right game will be three no-trump to protect partner’s tenaces on opening lead. So go ahead and bid three no-trump right now.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ A K Q J 10
 J 9 4
 6 5 2
♣ 4 3
South West North East
  Pass 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 2018. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Wednesday, January 24th, 2018

Only a Hungarian can go into a revolving door behind you and come out in front of you.

Anonymous


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

♠5

This year marks the centenary of the birth of a bridge player who was better known as a prose writer, translator and mathematician. His name was Geza Ottlik, and he classified many hitherto unrecognized positions in bridge. “Adventures in Card Play” is one of bridge’s more fascinating and complex books.

Here is a deal he created for the Budapest 1977 Junior Camp. He called it “Find the Lad,” in contrast to “Find the Lady.”

Against four hearts, West leads the spade five, and East plays the queen. With inevitable spade and club losers, you would like to hold your trump losers to one. It helps to be a good guesser, but are there are any clues or other pieces of information you need to process?

If you go after trumps on your own, you will surely lose two tricks in the suit today. Instead, you should try to avoid guessing trumps altogether. If the club king is onside, you may not need to open up the trump suit at all.

Return a spade at trick two, win the diamond shift at trick three, then play the second top diamond and ruff a diamond with the heart seven. Next you ruff a spade, as East pitches a diamond, then you advance the club jack and run it if West does not cover. But let’s say he does cover: If so, you ruff yet another spade, cash your remaining club honor and cut loose with your last club. In the three-card ending with just trumps in both hands, the opponents must find the trump jack for you.


You may not have any guarantee that acting is safe, but your shape suggests that it is sensible to balance now with a call of two no-trump. This shows the minors, just as it would if you had bid directly over one heart. Whenever the opponents have a decent fit, as they appear to have here, your side should have at least an eight-card fit as well, so bidding two no-trump carries very little risk.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ K Q
 4
 Q 9 7 5 3
♣ 10 9 7 4 3
South West North East
      1
Pass 2 Pass 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: Tuesday, January 23rd, 2018

Against the disease of writing, one must take special precautions, since it is a dangerous and contagious disease.

Peter Abelard


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

♣K

Today’s deal might appear straightforward at teams, but at matchpoints you can imagine there would be a temptation to put your contract at risk. Let’s look at teams play. You declare four hearts on the defense of repeated club leads. You ruff the second, and I assume you cash the heart ace, with both opponents following. What would you do now? No peeking at the opponents’ cards!

If trumps are 3-2, almost any approach will lead to 10 tricks. But today, if you cross to a top diamond and take the trump finesse, West will win his doubleton queen and lead a second diamond to give his partner a ruff.

So is the solution simply to cash both top trumps? Not at all, since your secondary concern should be managing a 4-1 trump break. If you take the two top trumps and find an opponent showing out, you cannot prevent the other opponent from scoring both his small trumps, and eventually a spade as well.

So after both opponents follow to the first trump, the best line is to play a low trump from hand at trick four!

The point is that when West wins, then even if trumps are 4-1, the best he can do is play a third round of clubs. But you can simply discard a spade from hand. You can then ruff a fourth round of clubs in dummy and cross to hand with a spade to draw the remaining trumps.

While the chance of each unfriendly lie of the cards is small, why not protect against both?


Although you are at the lower end of the range for this call, this hand is clearly worth a raise to three clubs, a bid that is somewhere between a courtesy raise and a genuine invitation. The raise covers both hand types, but you can easily see that a hand 5-5 in the minors should offer decent play for 11 tricks.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ Q J 6 2
 6 4 3
 8
♣ A J 7 6 2
South West North East
  Pass 1 Pass
1 ♠ Pass 2 ♣ Pass
?      

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