Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

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

Better mendacities Than the classics in paraphrase!

Ezra Pound


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

6

Since the world championship is taking place this week in China, we’ll be looking at last year’s event all week. Today’s deal is from the quarterfinals of the 2018 McConnell Cup.

When the Russian North-South climbed to the perilous contract of five hearts, it provided the Swedish East-West a fine chance for deception, which they duly took. (In the other room, their teammates Marion Michielsen and Meike Wortel had stopped safely in four hearts.)

West, Ida Groenkvist, started her campaign of deception by leading a diamond rather than the unbid suit, clubs. Had she led a club, declarer would have put in the jack, and the hand would have been over.

After the lead of the diamond six to the queen, king and ruff, Victoria Gromova, the declarer, led a low trump toward the jack — an interesting choice and as good as anything as the cards lay that day.

Groenkvist ducked, so declarer came back to hand with the club king and cashed the heart ace, dropping the 10. Next, she took a spade finesse, and Cecilia Rimstedt, East, ducked very smoothly. Declarer advanced the heart nine; West won and played back a club. Declarer rose with the ace, pitched her losing club on the diamond ace, then played the spade ace and another spade, expecting West to win, whereupon South would be able to claim the balance. But instead it was East who took the third spade, and she then gave her partner a spade ruff for down one. Very nicely done.



You do not yet know where you want to play the hand, five diamonds or three no-trump. It would therefore be premature to raise partner’s second suit. I would temporize with three hearts and pass three no-trump if partner bids it. In all auctions of this sort, where opener jump shifts, give priority to supporting opener’s first-bid suit if you can.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ K 8 6 5
 10 2
 K J 9 4
♣ 10 5 4
South West North East
    1 Pass
1 ♠ 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 2019. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, September 23rd, 2019

Say first, of God above or man below, What can we reason, but from what we know?

Alexander Pope


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

 

*Three spades

9

The McConnell Cup for women’s teams was held in Orlando last September. In the finals of that event, both Souths arrived in four spades.

In the open room, West took the heart nine in hand to try a small spade to the jack, which held the trick. When declarer led the spade king, East rose with the ace and pushed the club nine through. Declarer played small, and East continued the suit, forcing declarer to ruff in dummy. A small diamond to the queen in hand was followed by the trump queen, but declarer still had a trump and a club to lose, for one off.

In the closed room, the same contract was reached, and on the same lead, but on the auction shown here. Karen McCallum won with the king and played a trump to the king, which held. But now she played three rounds of diamonds, and though East could ruff the third round, declarer was in full control.

East switched to the club nine, covered by the king and won by West‘s ace. The club continuation was ruffed in dummy, and declarer continued with diamonds, leaving East no counter. When she ruffed in, declarer over-ruffed and trumped her club loser in dummy, losing just the trump ace.

McCallum reasoned that after West’s double and East’s twoheart bid, hearts appeared to be 4-4 and East had more hearts than clubs. If so, West had to have six clubs and thus probably a singleton spade. This produced a well-earned 10 IMPs to Team Baker, the eventual winners of the gold medal.



Partner has probably opened light in third chair, and you have enough in terms of high cards to expect to gain the lead again. It is therefore more than reasonable to lead your own long suit in preference to a singleton in partner’s. You will need to ready your apologies if you turn out to be wrong, though!

LEAD WITH THE ACES

♠ 5
 10 9 6
 K 8 7 6 2
♣ K 9 8 7
South West North East
Pass Pass 1 ♠ 1 NT
Pass 3 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, September 22nd, 2019

What would be your hopes for the world of bridge in 2020?

Nostradamus, Sacramento, Calif.

Perhaps I should hope for something attainable and not look for pie in the sky. Maybe we might be successful in persuading a few school districts to teach bridge to the pupils, accepting that it is a fine tool to help children understand mathematics and develop concentration?

Holding ♠ K-8-4,  Q-4,  A-10-6-4-3-2, ♣ J-10, I elected to open one diamond rather than two, because at favorable vulnerability I thought I had too much to pre-empt. We reached a hopeless slam, and my partner commented that he did not feel this hand was worth an opener. What do you say?

Hambone, Naples, Fla.

Wolff’s rule for pre-empting No. 1: Never pass with a bad suit — open one or two. This hand doesn’t qualify as a good suit, so you can choose to go high, go low or pass. To me, the pass stands out; with a bad suit — exactly the wrong top honor with which to pre-empt, since if partner is short, you can give him ruffs — and not enough to open, I pass. With the club queen instead of the jack, I might stretch to open.

What is the best way to deal with interference to Blackwood?

Buckaroo Banzai, Mason City, Iowa

DOPI and ROPI aren’t just two of the lesser-known dwarves in Snow White. If the opponents intervene below five of your trump suit, use double or redouble (D or R) for zero (O), pass (P) for one (I) and the next steps for increasing numbers of aces. After higher intervention, doubling for an even number of aces (zero or two) and passing for one is just one of many options here.

If you have agreed to play two-over-one game-forcing, can you suggest how to bid an 11-count with a doubleton support for partner and a six-card side suit? Should you go high via the two-over-one or low via one no-trump?

Clara Cluck, San Antonio, Texas

Assuming that a jump to three of a minor is not this hand (it would be for some), I suggest you decide if you would have opened the hand in question at the one-level. If you would, then bid two-over-one. If you wouldn’t, then bid one no-trump and follow up by bidding your suit at the three-level or making some other quasi-descriptive call (raising partner or bidding two no-trump might be reasonable approximations).

What are the advantages of leading the king from the ace-king? If your partner is void, he won’t know if you are leading from the ace-king or king-queen and so cannot tell if it is right to ruff or not. Wouldn’t leading the ace inform your partner you have it, while leading the king would reveal that you don’t have it?

Clearwater Chuck, Raleigh, N.C.

The more common problem with the lead of an ambiguous king is how to signal with length including the jack, facing a king lead. Compared to that, leading the unsupported ace and having partner know you need a signal for attitude, not count, is more helpful and comes up more often. Having a void facing the king is rare enough that I’ve seen only two disasters along this line in my life. But one was this year, I admit!


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, September 21st, 2019

Consequences are unpitying. Our deeds carry their terrible consequences, quite apart from any fluctuations that went before — consequences that are hardly ever confined to ourselves.

George Eliot


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

*Spades

J

Today’s deal features an approach in which declarer takes his chances in the right order rather than putting all his eggs in one basket.

When South heard his partner transfer to spades, he had no reason to break the transfer, but at his third turn he could show a maximum hand with a source of tricks in his four-club call. Cue-bidding and Blackwood then got him to a slam that would have been excellent if West hadn’t hit upon the heart lead. How would you play it now?

This hand offers a simple choice of approaches. You can cash the spade ace, then take a finesse on the second round. This is an all-or-nothing play, but it will lead to 13 tricks if spades behave. Alternatively, you can cash the top spades and, if nothing nice happens, go after clubs, hoping to pitch your heart from dummy on the fourth club, regardless of whether West ruffs in.

Taking the spade finesse (as opposed to the combination chance) wins when West has four spades to the queen and precisely three clubs, or precisely three spades to the queen and fewer than three clubs. Those combined chances happen about one time in 10. By contrast, playing spades from the top, then relying on clubs, brings the contract home (while the other line would fail) whenever East has a doubleton spade queen or when he has three spades to the queen and three or more clubs. That happens almost one time in three. So, cashing the spade ace-king is a far superior line.



One choice is to rebid two no-trump, even without a heart guard, in order to show the hand type. The second choice is to rebid spades, which might be acceptable even if you play it as promising six. For the record, bidding diamonds might not only mislead your partner, but would also highlight the heart weakness to the opponents.

BID WITH THE ACES

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

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, September 20th, 2019

Truth has no special time of its own. Its hour is now — always.

Albert Schweitzer


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

*Hearts, forcing

♠9

North’s response of two no-trump was a Jacoby-style forcing raise in hearts. South ignored East’s intervention and asked for aces, then, once his partner admitted to three key-cards, he made a grand slam try. After North showed the diamond king, South knew what to do.

West led the spade nine, suggesting an original holding of a singleton or doubleton in the suit, given dummy’s spade eight. When trumps broke 4-0, declarer knew East had started with eight spades and five in the minors. Thus, West had to have at least one card in each minor.

Once East followed to both a top club and a diamond, there were only three unknown minorsuit cards in his hand. Therefore, East could not hold a five-card minor, so it was safe to cash a second top club, then a diamond. When East discarded on the second round of clubs, declarer ruffed a spade with the trump king. After cashing the club queen, declarer led the heart two toward dummy. West inserted the eight, and dummy’s 10 won the trick. Now declarer ruffed dummy’s remaining club with the queen, then led the heart three to the five and seven. The heart ace drew West’s last trump, while South threw a diamond. Declarer ended up with two ruffs in hand, four trumps in dummy, and seven side-suit top cards.

Note that if East had followed twice in each minor, it would have been safe to cash the queens of both minors. Finally, if East had discarded on the second diamond, then a diamond could have been ruffed safely in dummy.



This hand may appear too strong for a simple overcall, and in a way it is. But if elect to double, you are likely to find somebody bidding spades and making it awkward for you to get your values across. Your plan should be to bid hearts, then double an opponent’s spade call at your next turn, if necessary, to show extras. That is exactly what you have!

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ 5
 K Q J 3 2
 Q 7 5 3
♣ A K Q
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.

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, September 19th, 2019

It is folly to expect men to do all that they may reasonably be expected to do.

Richard Whately


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

♠8

In today’s deal, South’s threeno-trump call was an attempt to protect his spade tenace. An alternative would have been a stopper-showing three spades instead, to highlight the danger of the diamonds. After all, if North’s pointed-suit holdings had been interchanged, five clubs would have been far better than three no-trump. Also, curiously, three no-trump by North likely would have made on a low spade lead!

Against three no-trump, West led the second-highest spade eight to deny an honor in the suit. This went to the jack, king and ace. Declarer could see that even taking four club tricks would probably not be enough. The defense would establish the spade suit and come to five winners before he had nine.

So South decided his best chance was to sneak a heart trick first. If the heart king held, he could turn to clubs with the game-going trick in his pocket. Alas, East won the first heart and persevered with spades. Not just any spade, though. South was marked with the spade queen, and if he had started with acequeen-six, the “normal” current count return of the spade three would block the suit, assuming declarer played low.

So East put the spade 10 on the table. Declarer ducked that and won the third round, hoping for a 6-3 split. He then turned to the clubs, cashing the ace first in case West miraculously had the singleton king. But no — East won the second club and had a fourth spade to lead to West, who cashed out for down one.



I would raise to four spades at any vulnerability. Partner likely has a singleton heart, and our own singleton should allow him to cross-ruff the hand. We definitely want to sacrifice over four hearts, so we should do so immediately, making life as difficult as possible for the opponents.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ 9 8 5 4 2
 J 8 5
 J 10 8 4
♣ 6
South West North East
  1 1 ♠ 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: Wednesday, September 18th, 2019

Skill is a function of chance. It’s an intuitive best use of chance situations.

Philip K. Dick


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

*Hearts

Q

When South felt obligated to break his partner’s transfer by jumping to three hearts, North used the excuse of being vulnerable at teams to press on to game.

When West led the diamond queen, South saw that the mirror distribution meant he would need not only to find both major-suit kings onside, but also some sort of endplay for his 10th trick.

Placing all the top diamonds with West after the lead and East’s discouraging signal, declarer decided he would need to eliminate West’s black suits, then throw that player in with the diamond nine. But this would also require cutting the defenders’ communications in clubs.

If the club honors were split, declarer would need to convince East rather than West to take his club entry first. Deciding that leading the club jack from dummy might persuade East to duck his ace, for fear of solving a guess for South, declarer innocently played a low club out of hand at trick two. When West played low, East had to take his ace and could do no better than return a diamond.

Declarer won this, then led a spade to the queen, followed by a trump to the king and ace. South cashed the trump queen, then played a spade to the ace to extract West’s last safe exit card.

Finally, when declarer led a club to his queen and West’s king, that player could cash his diamond winner. However, he then had to lead a minor and let declarer discard a spade loser from one hand or the other.



You could have an eight-card heart fit, but even then, one no-trump might play reasonably. With such poor hearts, you should pass and hope partner can conjure seven tricks. You would not want to play in two hearts opposite a small doubleton.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ A Q 2
 10 9 7 5 2
 8 7 2
♣ J 5
South West North East
    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: Tuesday, September 17th, 2019

Minds are like parachutes. They only function when they are open.

Sir James Dewar


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

Q

It is rarely attractive to upgrade 19-counts in first or second seat to a two-no-trump opening. When investigating a slam, starting the exploration at the three-level is rarely optimal. Also, it can be difficult to locate 5-3 fits after a two-no-trump start. So South was sensible to open one spade. He jumped directly to four spades when he found the fit, since his aces and kings suggested a suit contract.

When West led the diamond queen, South could see 10 tricks via a diamond ruff in dummy, as long as trumps broke 3-2. But what if they broke 4-1?

In that case, the way home would be for South to score his small trumps via heart ruffs, thus coming to six trump tricks to go with his four top side-suit winners. But this would require careful planning.

To start with, South carefully won the diamond lead in hand and continued with the heart ace and another heart. East overtook West’s 10 with the jack and shifted to the club 10. Declarer rose with the ace and played the spade queen and a trump to dummy’s king — discovering the 4-1 break.

Now came the diamond king followed by a heart, ruffed low in hand. A diamond ruff with dummy’s last trump was followed by dummy’s last heart. When East discarded his second club, declarer scored his remaining low trump, with the spade ace still to come, for the 10th trick.

If East had ruffed in on the fourth heart, South would have discarded a club instead of over-ruffing, with two more trump tricks guaranteed.



We do not want to introduce hearts — the last thing we want to do is to play in hearts if partner cannot bid them. Raising clubs may not achieve much and could mislead partner about our defense if the opponents come in. Since our kings suggest defense, not offense, I’d pass now and hope to balance later. I’m tempted to try one no-trump, but a free bid suggests a slightly better hand than this.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ K 6 5
 8 6 5 2
 K 4
♣ 8 4 3 2
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: Monday, September 16th, 2019

The past is the only dead thing that smells sweet.

Edward Thomas


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

A

In today’s auction, South opted for a simple overcall, rather than a preempt. Then West decided on a simple raise, planning to re-compete with a further raise if he had the chance. He didn’t, because North exploited the vulnerability to drive to five diamonds, hoping his clubs would come in handy.

No one had anything further to say, but looking at his high-card values, West sensibly led out ace and another diamond. Declarer realized that there was a spade trick to lose, and now that dummy was reduced to two trumps, declarer could no longer take three heart ruffs.

In order to bring his game home, declarer realized that he needed to bring in dummy’s clubs. At trick three, he played a club to the ace and ruffed a club, bringing down the king from East. If clubs broke 3-3, declarer would have the entries he needed via heart ruffs both to set up and then to enjoy the clubs. But if clubs broke 4-2, he would be an entry short.

South found a neat solution via a variation on the Morton’s Fork. He played his spade king next. If East had taken it, the spade queen would have been the third entry to dummy, allowing declarer to set up clubs. East saw through South’s stratagem and held back the ace, but declarer countered by cashing the heart ace, ruffing a heart and then leading the club jack, on which he threw the spade four from hand. West won with the club queen, but that was the last trick for the defense.



Invitational auctions call for passive leads, but even so, our strong spade suit should surely be led. The problem is that we do not know which spade; a low card could be very silly if each opponent has three cards and your partner has no high card. But if one defender has the doubleton king or partner has the doubleton spade 10 or king, you’d much rather lead a low card. I’d go for the spade queen with minimal confidence.

LEAD WITH THE ACES

♠ A Q J 6 4
 9
 Q 9 2
♣ 10 8 6 2
South West North East
  Pass Pass 1 NT
Pass 2 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, September 15th, 2019

Please explain the philosophy behind cue-bidding aces before second-round controls, as opposed to making the most economical cue-bid. Doesn’t this run the risk of reaching slam with two aces missing?

Roman Candle, Tupelo, Miss.

You can combine cue-bidding with Blackwood to minimize the risk you mention. Cue-bidding is best used when you need to know if partner can co-operate. Often there will be a danger suit where you need help from partner before heading for the stratosphere. These days, the practice of cue-bidding indiscriminately up the line has become the norm.

Recently, at pairs, I held ♠ 10-4,  K-10-2,  A-7-6-2, ♣ A-Q-5-4. I opened one diamond, and after a one-heart response, I could not decide whether to raise hearts, introduce clubs or rebid one no-trump. The heart raise did not work out well when trumps were 5-1! Bring on the Moyse, Saint John’s, Newfound

land

Two points: First, I prefer to open one club, not one diamond, since I’ve seen my partner on lead before and I prefer to have him lead good suits instead of bad ones. Second, raising hearts is fine by me. This way, we make sure to reach our 5-3 fits on part-score hands, and partner can ask if I have three or four trumps when we belong in game.

Is there any point in discussing good or bad results at the table, or is it better to wait until after the game? If you advise against going over unfavorable results immediately, is there anything that is worth discussing?

Well-Tempered Clarence, Wilmington , N.C.

There is little reason to discuss your side’s declarer play. A bidding accident will merit discussion only if you need to ensure it will not happen again in the current set. Defensive cardplay (where the blame is often hardest to assign) may be the toughest to ignore. But very little is gained by debate at the table — unless you have downtime in a set for some reason.

I picked up ♠ K-3,  K-Q-5-4,  A-9, ♣ A-J-6-5-4 and was torn between opening one no-trump and bidding one club, with the intention of reversing into hearts. What should be the deciding factor here?

Locum Tenens, Pueblo, Colo.

I’m somewhat out of step with the “open one no-trump on everything that moves and some things that don’t” faction. To my mind, if a hand can be easily and accurately described by bidding suits, as here, then just do it. With a 16-count, you might feel differently; make the club jack the club three, for example, and this is a clear one-no-trump opener.

I’m curious as to whether the national team for the USA usually has a sponsor. What is your opinion on the subject? Would excluding professionals by having pairs trials make a noticeable difference in our chances of success in world events?

Rumblefish, Manchester, N.H.

While sponsorship allows good players to concentrate on bridge and thus to get better, I’d still like to see a system that allows the three best pairs to make up our team. That said, two or three sponsors are more than good enough to play for USA with no weakening of the team. Marty Fleisher and Nick Nickell, who are captaining the U.S. teams in China this week, are really fine players.


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.