Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Wednesday, August 3rd, 2016

It’s always about timing. If it’s too soon, no one understands. If it’s too late, everyone’s forgotten.

Anna Wintour


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

♠6

This deal occurred in the 2015 Spingold tournament, but I have modified the spot-cards to make the point more elegantly.

West kicks off with the spade six against five clubs, so you have avoided the killing heart lead. You win the spade in hand, and start out on clubs. Both opponents follow to the first trump, but West pitches an encouraging heart on the second trump. Plan the play.

Without drawing any more trump, you must cash two more spades (surely East is not ruffing in yet). As it happens, West began with the doubleton 6-4, so you can take your heart discard on the spades without drawing the last trump. You now get to play diamonds to best advantage by leading twice, rather than once, from dummy.

West is surely 2=8=2=1 or 2=7=3=1. If the latter, considering that East probably has the heart king, West is a heavy favorite to have the diamond ace (rather than the diamond Q-J-x, or he might well have led that suit).

If West does have the diamond ace, your choices in diamonds are initially to lead low to the seven, or low to the 10. In other words, East’s critical holdings are Q-J-x, Q-9-x and J-9-x. Since there are twice as many holdings with one honor as two, you must lead a diamond to the seven. If it loses to an honor, West will surely try to cash the heart ace. Ruff, cross to the club queen and lead a diamond to the 10. When that forces the ace, you can claim the rest.


The days of 16-18 notrumps are no longer with us. You are too good for a 15-17 no-trump, despite your awkward bunching of honors; does that mean you should open one diamond? I guess so…but I truly have a hankering to open one club here. After all if we have a spade fit I’d like to find short diamonds, opposite not long diamonds, and I want partner to appreciate club length if he is in doubt.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ A K J 3
 J 7
 8 6 5 4
♣ A K Q
South West North East
      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 2016. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, August 2nd, 2016

The art of being wise is to know what to overlook.

William James


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

K

Today’s deal came up in the ACBL simultaneous pair game in support of the Canadian Olympiad this June.

The commentary indicated that West was likely to pass initially, then back in with two hearts after hearing one club to his left and one spade to his right. North should not repeat his clubs – that would show at least a trick more than he has — but South can reopen with a double, which is primarily for take-out.

North has an obvious rebid of three clubs now, and this lets South bid three diamonds at his next turn, which is clearly natural and forcing. The absence of a heart stopper should now be apparent. North should eventually give preference to spades, and South can raise to game.

West’s target will be to build extra trump tricks for his side by leading hearts at every turn. After three rounds of hearts, ruffed in hand, South will cross to dummy to take the spade finesse. When West wins his spade queen and leads a fourth heart, would you as declarer remember to ruff in dummy with the spade six? That play might seem irrelevant – but just look at the spot cards. You will find that East cannot overruff, and now you can cross to hand with the club queen and draw the remaining trump. If you forget to ruff in dummy, West scores an extra trump trick, to defeat the game.

Making 10 tricks in spades will surely score North-South well, since many pairs will misjudge the bidding or the play here.


The two diamond call shows a club raise, and after the double your weakest action is to bid three clubs – but I think your quick tricks make your hand too strong for that. I would redouble to show the diamond ace, trying to right-side no-trump if your partner has queen-third or even jack-third of diamonds.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ 6 3
 10 7 6
 A 5
♣ A K 6 4 3 2
South West North East
      1
2 ♣ Pass 2 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 2016. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, August 1st, 2016

Confess yourself to heaven;
Repent what’s past; avoid what is to come.

William Shakespeare


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

♠10

In response to a minor-suit opener there is no unanimity as to the meaning of responder’s jump to two or three no-trump. Many play the jump to two notrump as invitational, so that North can pass with a minimum opening bid. So here South jumps to three no-trump to suggest a balanced minimum game force, tending to deny a biddable four-card major. That ends the auction.

After the lead of the spade 10 (top of a sequence, not denying a higher honor such as the ace, king, or queen) South captures East’s queen with his king and must develop the diamonds to make his game. But he can see that he needs to do so without allowing East to gain the lead for a potentially fatal second round of spades. If East is allowed to lead a spade through declarer’s jack, West may be able to run the spade suit on defense and defeat the contract.

The solution is very simple – once you see the problem. South crosses to the heart jack and leads the diamond 10 from dummy, planning to duck this around to West. If East covers, South captures the queen with his king, goes back to the heart king, then leads a diamond to his seven. He does not care if West wins the trick, since he is in no danger if it is West who leads the second spade for the defense.

This line of play ensures South can run the diamonds without letting West in, and thus make overtricks in his game.


A spade lead seems to accomplish nothing; but should we simply go passive, perhaps trying to tap out declarer, or find an active defense or play for a ruff? As far as I can see, either a club lead or diamond lead might work. But equally those leads might throw away a trick for no reason. So I will simply lead a spade; my second choice would be the club queen.

LEAD WITH THE ACES

♠ J 9 7 3 2
 9 6 3
 Q 7 6
♣ Q 5
South West North East
  Pass 1 ♠ Dbl.
3 ♠ Dbl. 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 2016. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, July 31st, 2016

Holding ♠ Q-7-3, Q-4, K-Q-9-6-3, ♣ K-10-3, I heard my partner open one club and the next hand overcalled one spade. I bid two diamonds, and my partner joined in with two hearts. Is that a reverse, showing real extras, or does it not define my partner’s range? In any event, what should I bid now?

Vexed Question, Mason City, Iowa

This is not a reverse; it shows clubs and hearts but it might be only 4-4 and minimum. The fact that your partner bids hearts here under pressure just says he has four (he might simply have planned to bid one heart over one diamond). So I’d just bid two no-trump now and not be too concerned if partner passes…even if your side has 25 HCP you have not made game yet – or even two no-trump!

In second seat, vulnerable against not at Matchpoint Pairs, you hold: ♠ —, 4-3, Q-J-10-6-5, ♣ A-K-10-8-4-2. When RHO opens one spade do you bid the unusual no-trump or overcall with two clubs? Would your view change if your diamonds were weaker – or if you had 0-1-5-7 pattern?

Dumbledore, New Haven, Conn.

On your actual hand two no-trump seems right, but with weaker diamonds I would bid clubs at whatever level you think appropriate. With the 5-7 pattern would five clubs be overly aggressive? Possibly yes, I admit!

I was dealt ♠ A-Q-7-3, 2, K-J-6, ♣ K-10-9-7-3, and after a pass from my partner I heard an opener of one heart to my right. I imagine it is right to double, but when that was redoubled and passed back to me am I supposed to sit it out? If I run, what should I bid?

Call to Action, Boise, Idaho

Your partner’s pass has been described graphically as the Pontius Pilate pass; “You got us into this, you get us out of it”. Start by escaping to one spade and gauging the severity with which this gets doubled! You can always remove yourself to two clubs – but running to two clubs at once is less flexible.

One of my partners, with whom I qualified as life master, had a question on one of our bidding sequences. Holding ♠ A-J-7-5-2, 5-4-3, K-Q-6, ♣ A-4 I opened one spade of course. My LHO over called two clubs and my partner bid two diamonds, which I raised to three diamonds. Now my partner bid three hearts; what would you do now?

Close Harmony, Vancouver, British Columbia

When the suit orders are inconvenient, as here, I’d read partner’s call as a try for three no-trump — so with a club stopper I would bid three no-trump now. Of course partner could be 5-6 in the red suits, but then I’d expect him to bid on, knowing I didn’t bid two no-trump at my second turn.

Your readers know of your passionate belief that bridge should be included in North American school curricula. This raises a question of how bridge could or should be presented for students just starting out. Obviously the mechanics of how it works and maybe even the scoring is a must. What are your thoughts?

Problem Solver, Monterey, Calif.

Beginning with mini-bridge, whereby the bidding is far less important than the play, is a good start. I think learning by experience is the right way to go. Answering the players’ questions and giving a few suggestions is enough to start with.


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 2016. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Saturday, July 30th, 2016

You know how often the turning down this street or that, the accepting or rejecting of an invitation, may deflect the whole current of our lives into some other channel. Are we mere leaves, fluttered hither and thither by the wind, or are we rather, with every conviction that we are free agents, carried steadily along to a definite and pre-determined end?

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle


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

♣K

How should East defend against four spades, when partner leads the club king to trick one? At the table East played low at trick one, and West continued with the club ace.

Now, not wishing to open up either red suit, West switched to a trump. Declarer still doesn’t seem to have a 10th trick, since diamonds do not break and the heart ace is offside.

However, many-time world senior champion John Holland won the spade ace at trick three, and without testing the diamonds he ran all the trump, discarding hearts from dummy.

He reduced to a five-card ending where dummy had the bare heart king and four diamonds, while he had two hearts and three diamonds in hand. What was East to discard on the last trump? A diamond would give declarer four tricks in that suit, while if East reduced to the bare heart ace it would allow declarer to establish the heart nine for his 10th trick.

West certainly had an awkward problem at trick three. His best chance to beat four spades is to find East with two tricks in a red suit, or perhaps one red ace and a trump trick (in which case nothing matters). I would have switched, though probably to switch to a diamond than a heart.

However as East, since you know West is surely going to continue with a top club at trick two, whatever you play, maybe if you play the queen first, partner will continue with the ace, and will read your carding as suit-preference?


Your partner has suggested a non-minimum with six diamonds and three hearts. I’d guess that your best game, by some margin, rates to be four hearts. Assuming trumps break 3-3 or 4-2, you may take the same tricks in both contracts. The likelihood of three fast black-suit losers is high enough to gamble hearts will be the only makeable game.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ J 10 4
 A Q J 8
 10 9 7 2
♣ Q 7
South West North East
  Pass 1 Pass
1 Pass 2 Pass
3 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 2016. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, July 29th, 2016

There is always a countermove, always an escape or way through. No one said it would be easy and of course the stakes are high, but the path is there for those ready to take it.

Ryan Holiday


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

*Hearts

♣Q

Let us look at the contract of four hearts after the lead of the club queen to the ace. At trick two declarer must play a spade, to preserve entries for the elimination that is to come. East takes the spade king with the ace, and a diamond shift is surely the only chance to set the game.

If declarer wins this and draws trump, he will surely go down, since he will strip the hand and play a diamond, and West will cash out three diamonds for down one.

So say South ducks the diamond. If East is left on play he can do no better than exit in a black suit. Declarer draws trump, cashes the remaining black winners, and takes the diamond ace to find the bad news. Then he takes his one remaining chance when he exits from hand with the spade 10, pitching a diamond from dummy. East can win, but must now surrender a ruff-sluff, and dummy’s remaining diamond loser goes away as declarer ruffs in hand.

West should maybe find the defense to beat the game at trick three. Once his partner produces the spade ace and diamond queen, declarer must have all the missing high cards, and four hearts. The only chance for the defenders is for West to overtake the diamond queen and give his partner a ruff. With three tricks in the bag, a passive exit from East leaves West with a diamond winner, and East with the spade jack, to counter declarer’s pressure in the endgame.


After you have transferred to hearts and partner has obediently completed the transfer, you want to offer a choice of games. Today diamonds is highly unlikely to be the right spot, so simply bid three notrump and let partner pick where he wants to play. If your diamonds were better, and your spades worse, you might feel differently about bidding your second suit.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ K Q
 K Q 10 5 3
 7 6 4 2
♣ 7 5
South West North East
    1 NT 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 2016. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, July 28th, 2016

How you think when you lose determines how long it will be until you win.

G. K. Chesterton


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

Q

Today’s deal originally arose in a home countries international match between England and Northern Ireland (and was subsequently recycled into the Lords versus Commons match).

After a strong two-club opener, South ended as declarer in three no-trump. West led the heart queen, won perforce by South. Rate your chances.

The club blockage is extremely aggravating, and with only one heart stopper remaining, it might seem that, after cashing the top clubs, you will only be completely safe if West has both the missing aces. Equally, if West has just one of the aces, it may be a matter of guessing which, in order to reach dummy before the hearts are established.

Curiously, though, declarer can always get home if he plays the hand correctly. When the hand was originally played, after unblocking the clubs, both declarers continued with the diamond king at trick five. Naturally, East ducked; but now with a diamond trick in the bag, the declarers abandoned diamonds and knocked out the spade ace, to come to nine tricks without breaking a sweat.

The second time around, Lord Hamilton and Lord Kalms were defending three no-trump on the lead of the heart queen. After cashing the top clubs, South advanced a sneaky spade jack. But Lord Kalms wasn’t fooled – he ducked, and now declarer was toast. A second spade would see the defense win and shift to hearts, while declarer had only eight tricks. So declarer tried a diamond to the queen, and East won his ace and cleared the hearts to set the game.


Your partner’s double followed by a minimum action in no-trump shows more than a one no-trump overcall (with a balanced hand and less than 15 HCP, he would pass initially). You have a straightforward raise to three no-trump. Your partner may not make it — but he should be allowed to give it a try.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ A 9 7 4
 9 5 4
 A 7 6
♣ 10 7 3
South West North East
Pass 1 ♣ Dbl. 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 2016. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Wednesday, July 27th, 2016

Shallow men believe in luck or in circumstance. Strong men believe in cause and effect.

Ralph Waldo Emerson


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

8

Not all finesses are created equal. Sometimes the timing of the play dictates that one suit must be broached before another.

The explanation for the bizarre auction here is that North responded two clubs because he thought he was a passed hand and was bidding Drury to show a strong spade raise! If you think this can only have occurred at a local club, it came up in a topbracket knockout final, and North was a famous player. Luckily, the contract reached was a reasonable one.

When West led his diamond, it might appear that declarer needs two out of three finesses in spades and clubs (and probably to find trumps breaking 3-2) to succeed. However, dummy’s shortage of entries means care is required. Declarer wins the opening lead, crosses to the heart ace, and takes the club finesse. If West wins the king, declarer must find East with K-J or K-J-x of spades. He leads the club 10 to the jack and a spade to the 10, then ruffs the club ace to play a spade to the queen.

If the club queen holds, declarer leads a spade to the 10, then ruffs the third club in dummy to lead another spade. If East covers with the club king, the club jack and the club ruff are declarer’s two entries.

Taking the spade finesse first fails today, because the early club finesse creates two additional entries. Also, be careful not to discard a club on the heart king – that loser has an important role to play!


The choice is between a simple raise to two spades and a three-card limit raise (going via one no-trump if that is your style). I prefer the simple raise, especially if you play this as constructive. Yes, you have 10 HCP and a doubleton, but your spades are tiny and the queenclub jack are not pulling their full weight. Additionally, we might belong in hearts.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ 6 4 3
 A K 9 4
 9 7 6 4
♣ Q J
South West North East
    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 2016. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, July 26th, 2016

Observe due measure, for right timing is in all things the most important factor.

Hesiod


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

*Forcing relay

♣Q

Although it can often be right to play in three no-trump when you have a 5-3 major-suit fit, it helps to have strength or length in all the side-suits. On this deal from a team of eight contest two pairs went down in three no-trump after a top club lead. The other two pairs played in the right strain, spades, but the bidding subsided at the two-level.

However, what line of play would give the best chance of making four spades? It seems right to assume that trump will break 3-2. The total of winners is nine – so from where will the 10th trick materialize?

The suit to go after should be hearts. They might break 3-3, but one trick must always be lost. However, even if they don’t break so helpfully, the fourth heart can perhaps be ruffed on the table – so long as you time the play correctly.

West will surely lead the club queen against four spades. The best way forward, which caters for most eventualities, is to win, then play a low heart, ducking in hand. The opponents will doubtless cash their club trick, but their next play puts you in control. Win, play off the spade ace and king, then take the two top hearts and if necessary ruff your heart loser with dummy’s last trump. The defenders will make a trump trick, but that is all.

Note: if you cash either one or two top hearts early, then whether you play trumps or not, you will no longer be able to find a winning line, as the cards lie.


You have enough to make a try for slam. As three notrump is natural and implicitly a minimum for the auction thus far, you could make a quantitative raise to four no-trump, or bid four clubs, as a cuebid for hearts, showing three trumps, and planning to follow with Blackwood. You’d surely have raised clubs directly if you wanted to play that suit. I think I prefer the latter approach, despite your bad trump.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ K 5 3
 8 5 2
 A K 7 5 3
♣ A 4
South West North East
  Pass 1 Pass
2 Pass 3 ♣ Pass
3 Pass 3 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 2016. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, July 25th, 2016

For all your days be prepared, and meet them ever alike. When you are the anvil, bear — when you are the hammer, strike.

Edwin Markham


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

*12-14

4

Since the defenders have the advantage of being on lead to trick one, they can strike the first blow, even if that blow is often wrongly aimed.

When the board first appeared in a head-to-head match, one table had a relatively easy time of things in three no-trump. When after South opened one diamond, it deterred West from leading a diamond. After a club lead, declarer could dislodge the heart king in safety.

However, a minority of duplicate players espouse the 12-14 one no-trump opening, which was the case at the other table. Now West led a low diamond to the king, and back came the diamond eight. Now put yourself in declarer’s position. If diamonds are breaking 4-4, there will be no problem. The defenders can come to at most three diamond tricks, plus the heart king, if that card is poorly located. The distribution to guard against is running into 5-3 diamonds, with the heart king over the ace.

If you rise with the queen or jack at trick two, West will duck. When the heart finesse loses, the diamond return through South’s remaining jack-nine will give the race to the defenders.

The solution is to play the nine on the second round of diamonds. West wins with the 10, but the defensive communications have been cut. The defenders can take three diamonds and the heart king, but no more.

Incidentally, if the heart king and ace are interchanged, the problem for declarer of whether to play a diamond honor at trick two is considerably more complex.


You can be almost certain that dummy is going to have short diamonds. Declarer rates to be 5-5 or so in the minors, and will need diamond ruffs in dummy, so lead a trump and rely on being able to kill the ruffs. Declarer may be able to pitch his heart losers on dummy’s spades, but if so the tricks rate to come back in the form of slow diamond winners.

LEAD WITH THE ACES

♠ 10 6 5 2
 Q 7 5 3
 Q 9
♣ K 5 3
South West North East
Pass 1 ♠ Dbl. 2
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 2016. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.