Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, December 29th, 2019

Yesterday, my opponent held ♠ —,  Q-10-7-6-4-2,  9-7-2, ♣ Q-10-8-3. At unfavorable vulnerability, he heard his right-hand opponent open one spade. He passed, and his left-hand opponent raised to two spades, back to him. Would you act? The player in question bid three hearts and was raised to four, making five!

Bowled Over, Spartanburg, S.C..

I would probably pass, albeit unhappily. At these colors when partner is known to hold spade length, the real risk is that your side will end up defending against a doubled (and making) spade contract. Certainly, bidding hearts is better than doubling two spades, because partner rates to pass a double, expecting much more defense from you.

How far forcing should one play the sequence of opening two clubs and bidding two spades over a waiting two-diamond response?

Bygone Age, Great Falls, Mont.

I play this as forcing for one round, but not to game. After a second negative response (a bid of three clubs over two spades), repeating opener’s suit is non-forcing. For the sake of completeness: After a strong and artificial two-club opening, opener’s rebid of two no-trump after a negative two-diamond call shows 23-24 balanced, non-forcing.

When you have a hand like ♠ K-4,  J-9-2,  A-7, ♣ Q-10-9-8-4-3 and hear a suit bid opened to your right, would you make a jump overcall, as opposed to a two-level overcall? Would the vulnerability matter?

In the Action, Flagstaff, Ariz.

When vulnerable, I prefer my jump overcalls to be closer to intermediate than weak (so I’d need the club king instead of the three in this example). Nonvulnerable, I’d be concerned this hand had too much defense for a pre-empt. I’d settle for a simple overcall at any vulnerability, except perhaps in third seat nonvulnerable.

I picked up ♠ K-10-8-2,  8-6-5,  J-9, ♣ A-J-8-7 on my most recent jaunt to the local club. With no one vulnerable, my left-hand opponent opened one club, my partner overcalled one heart and my right-hand opponent bid two diamonds. I raised to two hearts, and my left-hand opponent competed to three diamonds, passed around to me. I bid again, but got doubled and went two down for a bottom. Was I wrong to act again?

I Fought the Law, Lakeland, Fla.

It is rarely right to over-compete with a balanced hand, especially with poor trumps and a doubleton in the opponents’ suit. I would definitely not bid three hearts here. Give yourself a singleton diamond (or a fourth trump), and now competing with three trump and a decent hand is certainly not unreasonable.

One of my opponents held ♠ Q-J-7-5,  A-10-9-6-4,  9-4, ♣ Q-7. He heard his partner open one diamond, and he bid one heart, then passed the one-no-trump rebid. They missed their 4-4 spade fit when declarer was 4=2=4=3 and could not make one no-trump. What went wrong?

Came in Spades, Danville, Ill.

Some players avoid rebidding their spades with a balanced hand and 4-4 pattern. To me, though, this seems sufficiently shapely to rebid at a suit — unless all your values are in your short suits. Responder might have been reluctant to repeat his hearts, but his good heart spots might point toward the suit rebid.


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, December 28th, 2019

I have seldom known anyone who deserted truth in trifles that could be trusted in matters of importance.

William Paley


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

Q

At Shanghai in the 2007 World Championships, what seemed to be a routine diamond slam proved not always to be so easy to make. When Jeff Meckstroth and Eric Rodwell played Argentina, they bid to six diamonds (though not on this auction), and Pablo Lambardi led his singleton heart. Of course, Meckstroth won the ace. He led a diamond to the king, and Luis Palazzo dropped the queen!

Trusting this card, Meckstroth assumed Lambardi was left with a sure diamond trick. If that was the case, the slam could still be made if declarer could avoid a heart loser by throwing all three hearts from dummy on the winning clubs, then ruffing the heart two.

A possibility that would have succeeded today would have been to unblock the club queen, then cross to hand with a diamond to play winning clubs. However, that line would fail if West held only three clubs with the four diamonds. He would ruff the fourth club with the diamond nine and return the diamond 10, to draw dummy’s last trump and leave declarer with a heart loser.

Meckstroth instead crossed to hand with the spade ace after cashing the club queen. Now, should West ruff the fourth club and return a trump, there would still be a trump in dummy to ruff the heart.

But now, although dummy’s hearts duly went away on the clubs, Palazzo ruffed the fourth club with his surprise trump. When he played a heart, Lambardi could ruff in front of dummy with the diamond nine for down one.



You should double here, which I recommend you play as take-out. You certainly have enough to compete the part-score, but I admit this could easily be the wrong thing to do. Still, partner will surely bid a major unless he has a defensive hand. And if partner passes, the club queen and diamond king should be pulling their weight in defense.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ Q 9 4 3 2
 J 9 8 3
 K 8 3
♣ Q
South West North East
    1 NT 3 ♣
?      

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, December 27th, 2019

It is always a paltry, feeble, tiny mind that takes pleasure in revenge.

Juvenal


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

♣K

Continuing from yesterday’s report of the face-off between Norway and USA1 in the 2007 World Championships, held in Shanghai, Zia Mahmood got his own back on this deal. A swing was guaranteed when the Norwegians bid up to three no-trump, since Garner and Weinstein had settled in three diamonds in the other room.

Zia’s (West) two-spade call was wide-ranging facing a passed partner. You or I might not bid it on this hand, but I suspect the partnership agreement for East-West here was that it would always be a decent hand at this form of scoring when vulnerable.

So, how would you rate declarer’s chances in three no-trump? The match was being broadcast in front of a live audience, and the Vugraph commentators had noticed that the contract would be simple on a spade lead. After either a low club lead or an unlikely heart lead, declarer would almost be forced to rely on the heart finesse, but there was no doubt that declarer would take it and bring home his game.

However, they had not counted on Zia’s ability to occasionally conjure IMPs out of thin air. He did indeed lead a club, but he selected the king! Do you blame declarer for assuming that West had started with the club kingqueen?

Declarer won in hand, took six rounds of diamonds and played a club. Zia had already disposed of the club 10, so East took three tricks in the suit and played a spade. One down, minus 100 and a remarkable six IMPs to USA1.



How bold do you feel? I advocate a call of three no-trump here. A call of four diamonds would preclude three no-trump. To bid the no-trump game directly is risky, especially since you may have to knock out the diamond ace, but you can hold up one round of spades, which is likely to cripple the defensive communications. This call has a big upside, plus you can run to four diamonds if doubled.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ K 8 4
 Q
 K Q 10 9 7 2
♣ A 8 2
South West North East
      3 ♠
?      

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, December 26th, 2019

Life is a very sad piece of buffoonery, because we have … the need to fool ourselves continuously by the spontaneous creation of a reality … which, from time to time, reveals itself to be vain and illusory.

Luigi Pirandello


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

♣5

At the Bermuda Bowl in Shanghai in in 2007, the end of the RoundRobin match between USA1 and Norway featured two good reporting opportunities for the assembled reporters.

In the first, North felt his hand was far too strong to splinter in spades at his first turn, so he jumped in his side suit, then decided to bid slam over the value-showing rebid by his partner.

As you can see, despite the 4-1 trump break, six hearts is cold because the club king is onside. Say West leads a diamond. Declarer can win the ace, draw two rounds of trumps to uncover the split, ruff a diamond and throw two diamonds from dummy on the high spades. Then he finesses the club jack, ruffs another diamond to hand and repeats the club finesse. That produces 12 tricks; two of dummy’s four diamonds are ruffed in South, and two pitched on the winning spades.

However, Tor Helness (West) had his own idea about that. He gave declarer a difficult guess when he led the club five! After much internal cogitation, declarer went up with the club ace, and down went the contract. Only the bad trump break would have defeated him, so it is hard to criticize him unduly.

Although the Norwegian North-South failed to derive the maximum benefit from their teammate’s excellent lead, as they had rested in game, Norway still picked up 11 IMPs.

Curiously, on the very next deal, USA1 had a chance to turn the tables, but this time the opportunity arose in the other room. More tomorrow.



Two hearts. You must force to game, and the most economical way to start getting your values across is with a twoheart reverse. To jump to three clubs would take up too much space and perhaps lose the heart suit. If partner bids three clubs over two hearts, you can raise to four clubs. This gets your shape across — though at the risk of going past three no-trump.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ —
 A K Q 5
 A 6 5 4 3
♣ A Q J 7
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: Wednesday, December 25th, 2019

If one learns from others but does not think, one is still at a loss. If, on the other hand, one thinks but does not learn from others, one is in peril.

Confucius


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

♠10

At the World Championships in 2007, Chip Martel reported this play, found by Ralph Katz in the round six match of USA1 against India.

Both tables played four hearts, Katz defending in the West seat after a strong no-trump and Stayman. After a low spade lead, one might have thought that the natural line was to win in hand and lead a trump to the queen, guarding against a significant trump singleton with West. It is not so clear who might be short in hearts on the lead of the spade 10. As the cards lie, this line would almost certainly lead to success.

Both declarers actually chose to win the spade ace and lead a heart to the king, ducking a trump on the way back. At one table, West won his jack and exited with the diamond jack, but it did not matter what he did at this point. Declarer could strip away the spades and diamonds, exit with a trump and claim. When East won the trick, he was forced to open up clubs for declarer, thereby ensuring the defenders could take only one trick in that suit.

Katz was defending in the other room, where he threw a wrench in the works for declarer by unblocking the heart jack under the king. Now when declarer played a second trump, the unblock meant that Katz’s partner, George Jacobs, was able to draw two rounds of trumps and exit with a diamond. Declarer was forced to find the club jack to make his game, and it was poetic justice that he guessed incorrectly and went down.



Bid four spades. You must raise to game, making it as hard as possible for the opponents to find their fit. Who knows — you might even make it! Anytime you have a problem like this, ask yourself what you would do if the opponents bid to their most likely game — here, four hearts. If you don’t know whether you want to save or not, give them the problem first by raising to four spades.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ Q 8 7
 A 10 9
 7 5 3 2
♣ A 7 5
South West North East
    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 2019. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, December 24th, 2019

I am driven Into a desperate strait and cannot steer A middle course.

Philip Massinger


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

*Spade raise

J

At the 2007 World Championships, Sweden lost its round robin meeting with Brazil, but right at the end of the encounter, Fredrik Nystrom got to show off as declarer — and his teammate Anders Morath had a chance for a crafty defensive play.

Against five spades, Miguel Villas Boas started with the diamond jack. Nystrom won the ace and put the spade jack on the table. Villas Boas won perforce and continued with the diamond king, then a deceptive club queen. Nystrom took the club ace, ruffed a club, played a spade to dummy’s king and ruffed a diamond. He then cashed two more trumps. The key to making the contract was figuring out how to play hearts for no losers, if indeed it was possible.

The bidding did not eliminate the possibility of West holding a doubleton heart queen. Nystrom eventually played a heart to dummy’s king, following it up again after some thought, with the jack. When Gabriel Chagas followed low, Nystrom ran it. That was good for plus 650.

Morath started with the club king, and play followed a line similar to that in the open room. (Morath played the diamond 10 when in with the spade ace.) At the critical point, however, when declarer played a low heart from hand, Morath produced the heart 10, pretending that he had started with queen-10 doubleton. Indeed, declarer fell for it, winning the heart king in dummy and playing the jack to his ace. When the queen did not fall, it was one down and 13 IMPs to Sweden.



Bid three clubs. Despite not really having extra values in terms of high cards, our shape is enough to justify taking a free bid. This describes our hand well, suggesting our nine or more cards in the minors. You hope it will help partner judge what to do if your left-hand opponent raises to four spades. If partner passes, you will too, of course.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ A
 10 2
 K J 10 6 5
♣ K Q 9 8 2
South West North East
1 Pass 1 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, December 23rd, 2019

But war’s a game, which, were their subjects wise, Kings would not play at.

William Cowper


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

*Negative

**18-20

♠7

This week of tournament deals is taken from the 2007 Bermuda Bowl, held in Shanghai. Today’s deal was played in an early round-robin match between Italy and Poland.

The contract is uninspiring here, since unless the major-suit kings are well placed, you are not favored to make your game — and maybe not even then! Four spades by South is more challenging than by North, where East is likely to lead a diamond and clear up your problems. On Vugraph, declarer (who shall remain nameless for reasons that will become apparent) received a trump lead.

After drawing trumps in three rounds, the correct technical play is obvious — you need the heart king onside, so lead a heart to the ace, then another back toward the queen. You can then strip away the hearts before exiting in clubs. The defenders will then have to open up diamonds. This gives you a 75% chance to avoid a loser, as opposed to the 50-50 chance you would have without their help.

Declarer missed this and instead exited with a low club after the third round of trumps. East won this trick cheaply and could have set the hand by returning a club. But he assumed declarer needed discards for heart losers, so he shifted to the heart jack — close, but no cigar!

Declarer could now revert to the winning line. This resulted in a flat board because the Italian pair in the other room had reached the superior three no-trump.



You have a control card in the trump suit and not much in terms of high-card strength, so you can expect partner to have an entry or two. This is the ideal time to lead your doubleton in search of a thirdround ruff. A seemingly passive spade will probably cost a trick as often as a diamond.

LEAD WITH THE ACES

♠ 10 8 7 2
 K 8 4
 7 5
♣ K 10 7 6
South West North East
      1
Pass 2 Pass 4
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, December 22nd, 2019

Recently, I picked up ♠ A-Q-J-6-3,  —,  K-2, ♣ A-K-J-9-4-3. Would you have opened one club or forced to game with a call of two clubs? Then, assuming you went for the latter option, would you introduce the major first or bid clubs?

Full to the Brim, Greenville, S.C.

Both bids make sense, I suppose. However, even if the opponents stay silent over two clubs, you may still find it hard to describe what you have. And if they come in, you may not be able to describe your hand at all. If your diamonds were the doubleton ace, a two-club call might be right. But as it is, put me firmly in the one-club camp.

How hard do you find the seniors’ game compared to the open? I see you have played in seniors’ events in the past.

Aged Annie, Vancouver, Wash.

To do well as a U.S. team at the Senior World Championships, you need to beat plenty of former world champions to qualify in your zone. At the world events, you will find that more than half the squads consist of players who previously represented their countries at the open level. There are no free rides anymore,

Please help us with this bridge question: What is the name of this famous bridge hand: ♠ A-K-Q,  A-K-Q-J,  A-K, ♣ K-J-9-7?

Fell off My Chair, Holland, Mich.

This is the Duke of Cumberland’s hand from a famously rigged deal in the 18th century. With small variations, you can find details on the internet under that name. At whist, played for high stakes, with clubs as trump, the Duke (a son of George III) led a trump. The cards lay in such a way that he could not take a trick! Compare the Mississippi Heart hand for a similar rigged deal.

My left-hand opponent opened one diamond, and my partner doubled. My right-hand opponent raised to two diamonds. I passed again, and my partner backed in with another double. The question is, was this second double for take-out? I assumed this was optional rather than pure take-out. Was I wrong?

Curious George, Chester, Pa.

Once you start by showing one sort of hand, you can’t change it at your next turn. Such second-round actions are take-out, simply promising extras. Most low-level doubles facing a partner who has not acted are assumed to be for take-out. The only time you double with strength in the opponents’ suit, you will have 18-20 or more, and you will bid no-trump at your next turn.

Lately, a player at my local club has taken to criticizing his partner’s and his opponents’ play. Is he wrong to do this? Can we ask him to stop?

Kicking Up a Fuss, Waterbury, Conn.

You certainly can. It is important that everyone feel comfortable at bridge; if not, it is the surest route to losing players. Constructive criticism is a good way to learn, but only when it is done politely and away from the table. If it is unwanted or during play, it is not acceptable and contrary to normal ethical practice.


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, December 21st, 2019

And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.

Roald Dahl


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

♣K

This was the most intriguing flat board from the 2001 World Championship match between Italy and USA, where in each room South reached an apparently hopeless slam. Consider how it came home at both tables before I let you in on the secret.

Lorenzo Lauria and Alfredo Versace bid the hand as shown here. North first showed a sound spade raise. Then the auction escalated fast, with Lauria’s final jump to slam on the pushy side — but why shouldn’t partner have had the diamond 10?

As you can see, making 12 tricks requires you to lose just one diamond trick. Playing for both the king and queen to be onside seems obvious — but will not work today.

However, both Versace and Bob Hamman had heard West bid clubs. Both won the club lead and led a diamond at once. When West followed low, they decided to go up with the diamond ace. Then, they cashed the top hearts and ruffed a heart, ruffed a club, ruffed a heart, and ruffed a club. This eliminated the clubs and hearts from both hand and dummy.

At this point, both declarers drew precisely one round of trumps and exited with a diamond. In the three-card ending, West was left with only clubs to lead. On the forced ruff-and-discard, dummy could take the ruff, and declarer the discard. Contract made, for a remarkable flat board.

Had either West managed the spectacular play of unblocking the diamond king on the first round of the suit, the slam would have been defeated.



This may seem controversial, but I advocate doubling for take-out here. You may still catch them if it is partner with the trump stack, and of course, if it is you who has the penalty double, partner might reopen with a double to show a defensive hand, and you can then pass. You plan to bid two hearts over two diamonds from your partner to show a better hand than a direct call in hearts.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ A K 6 5 4
 A K 8 4
 4 3 2
♣ A
South West North East
1 ♠ Pass 1 NT 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: Friday, December 20th, 2019

Just when we’re safest, there’s a sunset-touch, A fancy from a flower-bell, someone’s death, A chorus-ending from Euripides.

Robert Browning


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

3

On today’s deal, suggested by Michael Rosenberg, North-South reach the normal spade game, but even with the hands fitting well, finding a “sure tricks” line is difficult.

You might reasonably assume this was one of those textbook hands where after cashing the spade ace, you cross to dummy in hearts (which the defenders must duck), then lead a spade to the jack when East follows. This way, you have a re-entry to dummy in spades for the 13th heart if trumps are 2-2, or trumps will play for no losers if they are 3-1.

Alas for you, it is West who has the spade length. Now, when the heart ace is held up, you will have no way to pick the club suit, since the defenders can exit in diamonds at their every opportunity. A slight improvement would be to ruff a diamond at trick two and follow the same plan, which might give you a chance to make on the actual layout.

The best line, though, is to win the diamond ace and ruff a diamond, take the spade ace, lead a heart to the jack (which must be ducked) and ruff a diamond. Next, lead the heart king. If the defenders duck, play another heart. Should they take a heart ruff at any stage, you have a sure discard coming on the hearts, plus a trump entry to reach it.

As the cards lie, East has to choose between providing you with an entry to dummy’s long heart and being endplayed to lead into the split tenace in clubs or give you a ruff-and-sluff via a diamond exit.



You should double. You have support for all the other suits and a hand that is good enough to compete with. The lack of a fourth heart is not a problem; a three-suited hand should be treated as such — especially when it is really only worth one call. Two clubs would both be inflexible and exaggerate the quality of the suit while possibly missing a red-suit fit.

BID WITH THE ACES

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