Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, May 27th, 2018

In duplicate bridge, when should third hand (the partner of the opening leader) break the rule of third hand high? Is there a simple set of guidelines to follow?

Gasoline Alley, Grand Forks, N.D.

You must try to avoid finessing against partner unnecessarily, so when dummy has nothing, third hand must almost always play high to keep declarer from scoring a cheap trick. But say, for example, in a suit contract, dummy has J-7-2 in the suit partner leads and you have K-9-3 or Q-9-3. When dummy plays a small card, you should surely follow with the nine (which is the right play whenever partner has the 10). Of course, if your holding were Q-10-2 or K-10-2, you’d insert the 10 without needing to think about it.

I was dealt ♠ K-10-9-7-2 ,  K-J-5-3,  A-8, ♣ 9-4, and my partner opened one diamond, which was doubled on my right. I redoubled to show 10 HCP, thinking that I could bid my suits later on, but my LHO jumped to three clubs, meaning it as pre-emptive. I could still bid my spades, but we never got hearts into play. What are your thoughts on our bidding?

Quick Fix, Syracuse, N.Y.

It is a good rule to bid out a one-suiter after a double, regardless of strength. Only redouble when you can handle all likely actions by your LHO in response to the double. Having said that, I do have sympathy with redoubling here, since the opponents tend to bid the majors after this start.

In a suit contract, what factors should I consider when faced with the choice of leading the top of a small doubleton or leading from four to an honor?

Just the Fax, Bay City, Mich.

I tend to be slightly more in favor than most of leading from the doubleton here, regardless of my trump holding, if I think passive defense is called for. Four to an unsupported honor is less appealing, but give me a suit headed by a two-card sequence, and I tend to go for that instead. Of course, a ruff may be counter-effective if I surrender a trump trick, or trump control, in the process.

I was in third seat when my partner opened one heart. The next hand bid two hearts to show spades and a minor, and I had ♠ K-5-4,  A-K-10-9-2,  8-5, ♣ 10-8-3. What were my bidding options?

Rocking Rooster, Phoenix, Ariz.

The logic here is that a bid of three hearts is competitive, not a limit raise. This means that you have to use the cue-bid of two spades to show a good hand with hearts. Double by you shows a good hand, typically without real fit, but that wouldn’t be suitable in this case. The real issue is whether you will stay out of game if partner signs off over your cue-bid. I’m on the fence!

My partner explained to me that all jump bids by opener at his second turn are forcing to game. If the bid is a jump-shift, then I can understand it being forcing to game; but if the jump is in a bid suit, I don’t believe that rule applies. Do you? Also, is the jump shift in a new suit forcing for one round or game forcing?

Truly Scrumptious, Shreveport, La.

A jump-shift shows a game force. But as opener, it is important to distinguish such a thing from jump rebids either in your own suit or in support of partner’s suit, neither of which is forcing. Once responder has shown limit-plus values, perhaps by something like a two-level response, these auctions do become forcing. One further caveat: In response to a negative double, jumps in a new suit show extras, but are not forcing. A cue-bid sets up the game force.


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.

he Aces on Bridge: Saturday, May 26th, 2018

All things that can be known have number; for it is not possible that without number anything can be either conceived or known.

Philolaus


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

*Majors

♠K

The vulnerability persuades you as South to look for a vulnerable game rather than to play for penalties — a correct strategy since even four spades doubled might have been a cheap save against a game here.

When West leads the spade king, the defenders have immediately set up their long suit. After you have won the spade ace on either the first or second round of the suit, what is your plan to take the further eight tricks you need for your game? You can see seven tricks in clubs and hearts, but if you lead a diamond, the defenders will cash out for down one. So, you must find a fourth trick from the hearts.

You can do this if West has exactly five hearts and East’s singleton is the jack, nine or eight. When that singleton is the jack, a low heart to the queen will establish the 10, and you have straightforwardly achieved your goal. But since it is twice as likely that East’s singleton will be the nine or eight, as compared to the jack, you should play for that eventuality.

After taking the spade ace, lead the heart 10 from your hand. West will surely cover with the jack, and dummy’s queen will win the trick. Once the heart eight appears, you will cross to the club ace and lead the heart two to the seven. Next, you unblock hearts and run your nine tricks.

Incidentally, you cannot take any club winners before advancing the heart 10, as it would leave you short of an entry to your hand.


When the opponents intervene and you can see the possibility that they will raise their suit, it is a good idea to support your partner, assuming you have the option to do so. Here, I prefer to cue-bid two spades to show a club raise rather than bidding diamonds. The latter would be natural and forcing, but would not promise support.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ 5 3
 A Q 7
 K 8 6 3
♣ K J 8 4
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 2018. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, May 25th, 2018

I’ve been in office and I’ve been out of office. And if I were to choose, I’d rather be in office.

Jerry Brown


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

*Spades

6

The England women have been consistently successful over the last decade fielding a partnership still in their 20s. Fiona Brown is originally from Australia, but has been living in the U.K. for over 10 years. She played with Susan Stockdale first in junior events, then in women’s events.

Here is Stockdale at work. Declaring four spades, she won the heart lead in dummy to play a spade to the ace (not best, but far from silly), and led her diamond. West won and continued diamonds, letting Stockdale finesse the jack. Next came dummy’s diamond king, on which East pitched her heart. (It would have been better to pitch a club, then shift to hearts at her next turn.) Stockdale discarded a second club on the diamond king and now led a trump. East won the spade queen and played back a top club, which Stockdale ducked. She won the next club, then played the last trump to squeeze West in the red suits for her contract.

For the record, declarer might have cashed the spade king and played a second trump after winning the diamond jack. When East wins and returns a spade, it squeezes West down to one club. Then declarer cashes the club ace, leads the heart seven to the ace, takes the heart queen and leads the heart three to West, forcing a diamond return into dummy’s king-10.

If South forgets to play the heart seven early, West can unblock in hearts to leave South on lead, to concede two club tricks to East.


You may have a dead-minimum hand, but you do have extra shape, and your partner has volunteered a call, so he won’t have a complete bust. Even if you are outgunned on high cards, you may still make a surprising number of tricks, since you have aces, and you may be able to engineer a cross-ruff. So raise to two spades.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ A J 4 2
 Q 7 3 2
 4
♣ A 9 6 3
South West North East
      1
Dbl. 1 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 2018. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, May 24th, 2018

Evil communication corrupts good manners. I hope to live to hear that good communication corrects bad manners.

Benjamin Banneker


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

♠K

Here is a deal from the ACBL’s Senior Pairs simultaneous event played in April, rotated 90 degrees. The accompanying commentary suggests that some Easts may open four spades, but those defensive tricks suggest a one-spade bid instead. West will respond one no-trump, and when North doubles, East can rebid two spades. Now South will want to compete, but how?

Depending on your partnership agreements, South’s options may include a take-out double, an artificial two-no-trump call or a simple three-heart bid. When West competes to three spades, par will have been achieved … but if North now bids on to four hearts, the defenders may have their work cut out to set it.

After West leads the spade king, this deal emphasizes that when dummy has a singleton, standard methods of signaling really aren’t good enough. The default method these days appears to be to use suit preference; in other words, a high card from East suggests playing a diamond, and a low spade maybe asks for a club. But here, East wants to encourage a spade continuation, and middle cards are often hard to read. Perhaps if East calls for a club, West can work out that that play can wait?

West can defeat the game by playing another spade. Then East wins the first heart to play the spade ace, forcing dummy to ruff again. East can now follow up with a fourth spade when in with the heart ace, to promote a trump for West.


Your double of four spades is card-showing, not penalty. Your partner’s four-no-trump call suggests two places to play; and when he corrects five clubs to five diamonds, he is showing the red suits. You should bid five hearts now, to play the longer, if not necessarily stronger, trump suit.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ 3
 J 5 4 2
 A K 7
♣ A Q J 6 3
South West North East
      4 ♠
Dbl. Pass 4 NT Pass
5 ♣ Pass 5 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, May 23rd, 2018

If the waiter in the restaurant stumbles and spills a gill of coffee down the back of your neck, he says, ‘For lagniappe, sir,’ and gets you another cup without extra charge.

Mark Twain


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

6

Today’s deal sees you overcall in spades, then try three no-trump over your partner’s cuebid, since it is fairly typical here that partner is looking for a heart stopper for no-trump. When he bids on, he shows that he is cuebidding for spades, and once you cooperate, East is off to the races. Blackwood sees him put you in slam, and when West leads the heart six, the auction has told you that that suit will be breaking 6-1. You might as well play low from dummy, and capture East’s nine with your ace.

Drawing trumps seems logical, and East pitches a low heart. It now looks obvious to take the club finesse to dispose of one loser, but you actually have two alternative approaches. One line succeeds when East has exactly two diamonds (strip out the clubs, then play three rounds of diamonds, pitching a heart to endplay West). However, that is a relatively remote possibility.

A far better approach is to strip away the diamonds, ruffing the third round in hand. Then play the ace and king of clubs, planning to lead the club jack and pitch a heart. If West wins the trick, he will be forced to give you a ruff-sluff by playing a minor, since you know he is out of hearts. This line succeeds whenever the club finesse would have worked, but also adds on the slim (but not irrelevant) chance that East has the doubleton club queen. Since this line works whenever the club finesse would have succeeded, it is your best play.


You already denied four hearts when you bid two spades over two diamonds. (Yes, you could be 7-4, but in practical terms, you would surely never bypass even a moderate four-card major when in a game force). So you can bid three hearts to temporize and let partner support spades or try for three no-trump.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ A K J 9 5 4
 A 6 2
 4 2
♣ 6 3
South West North East
1 ♠ Pass 2 ♣ 2
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: Tuesday, May 22nd, 2018

Greed is all right, by the way. I think greed is healthy. You can be greedy and still feel good about yourself.

Ivan Boesky


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

♠2

One of the most common questions I receive from rubber bridge players who want to learn duplicate is how the approach differs from one game to the other. Today’s deal is a fine example of that difference.

Against three no-trump at both tables, the spade two was led. The first declarer played low from dummy (yes, playing the jack would have had some deceptive effect, but declarer wanted to be in hand), and East won with the king and thoughtfully switched to the heart queen. South ducked two rounds of hearts, but won the third to continue with the diamond queen. East was able to win and cash out for down two.

The second declarer saw the potential problem and rose with dummy’s ace at trick one. She had noticed that her contract would be safe unless diamonds were extremely unfriendly. She came to hand with a top club and led the diamond nine, which held. West showed out on the continuation of the diamond queen, but declarer let it ride, and East had to take the king now or lose it forever. Nine tricks made.

This hand would have been far more difficult to play in a matchpointed duplicate pairs tournament. Declarer now has a very awkward guess at trick one. If West has led a low spade away from the king, then by playing low from dummy and winning with the queen, declarer will end with at least 11 and maybe more. Unless both the spade and diamond finesse lose, the contract will be safe.


Whether or not you think this hand is too good for a two-diamond opener (I could go either way), over your partner’s forcing two-heart call you should bid two spades now. This is natural in principle, suggesting either a four-card suit or a holding like this one.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ A J 5
 9 7
 A J 10 8 6 5
♣ 8 6
South West North East
      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 2018. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, May 21st, 2018

If one man can be allowed to determine for himself what is law, every man can. That means first chaos, then tyranny. Legal process is an essential part of the democratic process.

Judge Felix Frankfurter


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

*Quantitative

♠2

In the readers’ letters last month I was asked about how to identify deals on which a squeeze might be relevant. I don’t want to get into Felix Frankfurter’s dictum that you will know it when you see it. Instead, I’ll be trying to show examples over the course of the next month or two.

Typically the possibilities for a squeeze exist when declarer has top winners rather than top losers, and is one trick short of his target. Without being unusually devious, let’s take a hand that lends itself to a squeeze in six hearts. At teams, you wouldn’t really care about the overtrick; but at pairs, the question is how to avoid a diamond loser in six hearts.

The defenders lead a spade against six hearts. You win the ace, and after playing to ruff a club low in hand, you lead out the heart king and jack. When the bad break comes to light, you cross to the diamond king to draw trumps, pitching two diamonds from hand.

The fourth trump puts West under pressure: In the five-card ending, dummy has two diamonds, a spade and a heart, while you have three spades and the bare diamond ace in hand. If West pitches a spade, the spades ruff out; if a diamond, then trick 13 will be won with dummy’s long diamond.

Note that if we change North’s spades to Q-J doubleton, we have a fast loser but no slow losers. So we change our approach: We drive out the spade ace, then ruff a club in hand and pitch dummy’s diamond on the spade winner.


While a club is as likely to cost a trick as a diamond, I can see good logic in trying to set up clubs fast (before they go on dummy’s spades) and possibly force dummy, in an attempt to build extra trump tricks for myself. So I would lead a low club, not a diamond.

LEAD WITH THE ACES

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

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, May 20th, 2018

As a club director, I am occasionally faced with the problem of how to make rulings that involve pairs who may never return to the club if I rule against them! Is it acceptable to give average to one or both sides in such cases? What about late-play penalties?

Tic-Tac-Toe, Panama City, Fla.

You have to make a living, I admit, but you must weigh that need against the integrity of the event and the objective of being fair to everyone. If that means administering the occasional average minus, so be it. There is no room for negotiation in the laws on revokes, penalty cards or insufficient bids. Where you can be tactful is with unauthorized information, where you can discuss the players’ obligations after the event.

I’ve been told that when my partner opens one club and North overcalls one diamond, the bid of a major shows four; but when partner bids one club and the next hand overcalls one heart, bidding one spade shows five or more. What is the thinking behind these bidding rules?

Champion the Wonder Horse, Salinas, Calif.

The logic is based on the number of unbid majors. In the first instance, you can bid either hearts or spades with one suit but not the other, and double with either. If bidding a major showed five, you would have no way to introduce a four-card major. When one major has been bid, the double takes care of some hands with the unbid major; bidding the suit takes care of the rest. Thus, over one heart, since you double with four spades, one spade shows five.

I held ♠ Q-7-2,  A-K-3,  Q-8-7-5-4, ♣ 10-3, and my partner opened three spades. The next hand passed without a flicker, and I had to decide whether to raise at once or pass and reconsider if they bid four hearts. We were non-vulnerable, and my partner is relatively disciplined, by the way.

Tightly Wound, Montreal

You might easily go down three in four spades or find that game had decent play. So it is a toss-up, but since you want the opponents to have the last guess, not you, I would raise to game and give them the hardest decision I can.

I’ve been out of bridge for a while and need clarification on the niceties of what to do when making a jump-bid. I thought it was right to say something or use a card when jumping. And I thought it was right to pause after a skip bid whether or not you intend to bid. I’ve been told the rules have changed; is that right?

Sitting Duck, Dayton, Ohio

You are still right in some regards, even though the rules have changed for reasons that remain unclear to me. The original idea was to draw your LHO’s attention to the jump to prevent him acting prematurely, and to force him to pause whether he had an easy action or not. Now, even though the ‘stop’ card has been dispensed with, the next player should still pause for 10 seconds whether you intend to bid or not.

I held this hand: ♠ K-5,  7-2,  K-Q-10-8-7-4-2, ♣ 9-7. My partner opened one spade, and I felt I did not have enough to force to game or to invite game with three diamonds. So I responded one no-trump, and since my partner had a small doubleton diamond and no spade ace, we ended up going down. But three diamonds would have been easy. What went wrong?

Fox and Grapes, Seneca, S.C.

If your partnership style is to use three-level jumps as invitational, you must bid one here. It may not be perfect, but it is hardly an overbid at all. If that tool is not in your kit, you may have to bid one no-trump and play there. Not such a great recommendation for the methods!


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, May 19th, 2018

In our tenure on this planet, we’ve accumulated dangerous evolutionary baggage — propensities for aggression and ritual, submission to leaders, hostility to outsiders — all of which puts our survival in some doubt.

Carl Sagan


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

*Forcing spade raise

7

On this deal from the Cavendish pairs, it was demonstrated that the downsides of opening light are not limited to getting too high once in a while. Where I was watching, Amos Kaminski passed the South hand, and a transfer auction to four spades saw Piotr Gawrys (North) have no problems on a club lead.

By contrast, both Geir Helgemo and Fred Stewart opened the South hand, the former fueled by youthful exuberance, and the latter by a strong club system. After a game-forcing trump raise, both played four spades on a diamond lead to the jack.

It looks normal to go after clubs now as East, doesn’t it? Think again — there is no hurry to lead clubs. Partner’s tricks in that suit won’t go away, so now is the time to look for something better.

Both Alain Levy and Roy Welland, at their respective tables, found the devastating trump shift. Declarer took his ace (if he finesses, he is sunk on a second diamond play), but in doing so, lost his only fast entry back to hand.

Each South now tried the club king from hand, but both Wests continued the good work on defense. They ducked the first club, won the second and played a second diamond. Declarer rose with the ace and now only needed to return to hand in order to discard the diamond loser on the clubs.

So they played the heart ace and king, and ruffed a heart high as their hand entry. No such luck! The defense could over-ruff and cash the diamond king for down one.


The sensible way to play in this auction (if not using three clubs as the Wolff signoff) is to make all calls forcing, except a pass. So you can bid three hearts to show five hearts and a forcing hand. If your partner had opened one club, you might have simply raised to three no-trump, but that small doubleton spade is a danger signal.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ 6 5
 Q J 9 8 5
 K J 8
♣ 10 8 6
South West North East
    1 Pass
1 Pass 2 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: Friday, May 18th, 2018

Who dares nothing, need hope for nothing.

Friedrich Schiller


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

*Limit raise with three trumps

♠5

Zia Mahmood achieved his first reportable coup of the 2001 Cavendish Invitational pairs competition on the very first deal. (And what took him so long, you might ask.) Zia, as South, opened one heart, and his partner, Billy Eisenberg, jumped to three clubs (systematically, to show a limit raise with four trumps or an unbalanced three-card limit raise). Zia tried a delicate six hearts, and Espen Erichsen, as West, led a spade to the king and ace.

When Zia advanced the club queen, Erichsen won with the club king to play a second spade. At this point, Zia had to find the heart queen. He reasoned that Erichsen’s decision to win the club king and return a spade (instead of a trump, or as opposed to letting his partner win the club ace) meant that he must have the heart queen.

Accordingly, Zia, who has never lacked the courage of his convictions, ruffed the spade return and ran the heart jack to make his slam.

I was lucky enough to make the slam against world champion opponents after the defense cashed the club ace and tried to cash the spade ace. Now there were enough inferences for me to negotiate the trump suit, though it was by no means a foregone conclusion to get it right.

While I was happy with my result, I will not name the declarer who made a more expensive play. At another table, Ishmael Del’Monte and Neville Eber got to defend against six diamonds doubled, but declarer misguessed hearts, turning a huge potential gain into a huge loss.


East’s double of one club should not significantly influence your choice here. With a six-loser hand, you certainly have enough to try for game. The question is whether you should jump to four spades or make a game try of three diamonds. I could go either way on this hand.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ K Q 6 4 2
 K 7 2
 Q 10 8 6
♣ 8
South West North East
  Pass 1 ♣ Dbl.
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.