Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, January 18th, 2016

One change always leaves the way open for the establishment of others.

Niccolo Macchiavelli


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

Q

In today’s deal, when North hears his partner open one heart he uses the forcing no-trump then jumps in hearts. This shows invitational values, in a hand unsuitable for an immediate jump to three hearts.

Typically this suggests 10 to 12 points; with less, North would make a simple raise. With more, North would make a two-over-one bid or use the Jacoby two no-trump.

In four hearts on a top diamond lead South can see that he will probably lose one diamond and as many as three spades. All will be well if East has the spade ace, but South should not rely on an even-money chance. If the club king is onside he has significant additional chance against the three-three or four-two break in clubs. (They break this way more than five times in six.)

South must go after clubs before drawing trump, since dummy’s hearts represent critical entries to the board. After finessing in clubs, cashing the club ace and ruffing a club, the heart nine is an entry to dummy to permit South to ruff a second low club, and the heart ace gets him to dummy in time to cash the last club.

South eventually discards a loser on dummy’s last club and then leads a spade towards the king. If East has the spade ace, South will make an overtrick. The ace, as it turns out, is wrong, so South would have failed in his game if he had not managed to develop the clubs efficiently – and if trumps had been drawn prematurely, the clubs would not have been established.


It is hard to look beyond hearts, the suit partner is most likely to hold, for your opening lead. But you want to avoid giving the impression of length or strength in the suit. So lead the heart seven and hope partner can work out to shift as and when appropriate.

LEAD WITH THE ACES

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

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, January 17th, 2016

At teams with nobody vulnerable I held A-K-J-9-8 of clubs in a balanced 11-count with four small hearts. I passed in first seat and heard my LHO open one diamond and my RHO respond one spade. I doubled to show a maximum pass, and eventually we defended to three no-trumps, which made when my partner led a heart. Afterwards he said that I should have opened one club with such a good suit.

Hot Foot, Grenada, Miss.

Passing initially is fine, even with such nice clubs, since you were going to have an awkward rebid. However, I might open with five clubs and four spades, knowing I could describe my hand at my next turn. I can see both sides of the argument at your second turn. You want to get partner off to the right lead if you can, and overcalling is the right way to do it, but who is to say you do not belong in hearts?

Do you have some simple advice on how to play when a cue-bid gets doubled? Would it matter if the call was a probe for no-trump as opposed to a clear-cut slam-try?

Mister Coffee, Cedar Rapids, Iowa

Yes it does matter. When a cuebid is doubled, use redouble from both sides as firstround control. I suggest the cuebidder’s partner pass with a second-round control, with anything else denying a control. Anything but redouble from the cuebidder denies a first-round control. However, when the cuebid is a probe for no-trump, bid no-trump if you can, redouble with the ace, pass or make a descriptive call with less than a full stop.

At duplicate pairs with ♠ 10-7-4-2, K-10-8-3, 9-4-3, ♣ K-2 LHO opens one diamond, partner overcalls one heart, RHO doubles, and you raise to two hearts. LHO passes and partner bids three clubs. Should you sign off in three hearts or bid game?

Rising Damp, Salt Lake City, Utah

Bid four hearts. Although you have a minimum in high cards, your partner has asked for help in clubs and you have the perfect holding to cover any problems he might have. Your fourth trump is a real bonus too. Indeed some might have done more at the first turn to speak. If you played a jump cue-bid to three diamonds as 6-9 with four trump, this hand would be perfect for that approach.

With both sides vulnerable I had the following interesting collection: ♠ Q-8-6-4, A-Q-10-9-7-6-5, 10, ♣ 2. The bidding started out with my LHO opening three spades, and RHO bid four diamonds. I risked a four heart call and RHO balanced with five clubs, converted to five diamonds by LHO. I chose to lead a trump to cut down the ruffs and this was not a success, but what would you have chosen?

Simple Minded, Rockford, Ill.

Dummy surely won’t fit diamonds or he would have acted at his second turn. I’ll try to cash the heart ace and find out what I should have led when I see dummy. My singleton club argues that a trump lead is likely to be unnecessary.

What do you recommend as the best approach when your partner’s opening bid or overcall of one notrump has been doubled for penalty? What if the double is artificial?

Dud Check, Tucson, Ariz.

Ignore an artificial double altogether and play ‘system on’ but redouble to go head-hunting. This sets up a force through two no-trump. After a penalty double, one simple option is to play redouble as a puppet to two clubs, based on either a club or diamond onesuiter (you will correct two clubs to diamonds with the latter) and keep your regular system in place, so two clubs is still Stayman.


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, January 16th, 2016

No matter what there always seems to be something clouding my existence, nothing is ever clear.

Emilyann Girder


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

♣9

In today’s deal from the NEC Cup at Yokohama there is a choice of games between three no-trump and four spades. Four spades looks better, and is indeed makeable – but there are some subtle wrinkles in the play.

After a club lead, found at most tables, it seems declarer can succeed by leading a trump to the jack. In the match involving the Hackett team, the eventual winners, both tables played four spades on a club lead. Gunnar Hallberg won the club lead in hand, then unblocked clubs to lead a spade to the king. (In general terms this seems a sensible approach, since leading a spade to the jack and ace would not guarantee you were out of the woods, while if the spade king held declarer could almost claim 10 tricks.) Not today though, since after the spade king lost to the ace, a diamond shift would have set the game. However, West passively exited in trumps, and Hallberg had regained control, and made his game.

At the other table his teammate Brian Senior as West led a club to the jack and king, and back came a club to the ace. Now declarer guessed to lead a spade to the jack. When Senior ducked smoothly, declarer elected to lead out two more rounds of clubs, pitching diamonds from dummy. This was not absurd, but it let East ruff in with his bare spade queen. The defenders still had two trump tricks and a diamond to come, for down one.


The normal thing to do here is to transfer to hearts and offer a choice of games. I’m not sure that is wise; do you really want to play a 5-3 heart fit here? I say no. Use Stayman, and unless you find a heart fit, bid three no-trump, since with all your honors in the side suits, three no-trump rates to be your best game. With a small doubleton spade and the heart queen, the equation is completely different.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ Q 5
 J 8 7 3 2
 K 10 7
♣ J 7 6
South West North East
    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 2016. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, January 15th, 2016

Life’s full of tricky snakes and ladders.

Steven Patrick Morrissey


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

2

Today’s deal sees a fine combined effort on defense against a three no-trump contract from the NEC tournament from Yokohama, one of the world’s strongest invitation teams events.

Fu Zhong as West started well by deceptively leading a fourth highest diamond from his four small cards. Declarer finessed, quite reasonably, and Jerry Li as East won and returned the textbook club 10 to pin dummy’s nine, covered by the jack and queen. Seeing the danger in the hearts, Fu played back a diamond to disrupt declarer’s communications.

Declarer took this, played the spade king, ducked, then the heart ace, and heart jack, ducked again, and a third heart. Li won his king, West pitching a diamond. At this point the defenders had taken a diamond, heart and club. Now Li played a spade to his partner’s ace for a third diamond play, the killing defense, since whichever hand South won this in, he was toast. Declarer could win in dummy and surrender a spade at the end, or win in hand and be left with a club loser.

The defense was basically forced from trick one onwards. Declarer could have succeeded at double dummy by rejecting the diamond finesse or by rising with the club ace at trick two. And because East had the club eight West could have continued playing on clubs earlier. However, his defense covered all the bases, since it would have prevailed against the actual lie of the cards, whether East had the club eight or not.


Partner has shown 18-19 but he may have only one spade stopper. I’m not sure if three clubs by me would be forcing, and I’d be unhappy about raising to three no-trump directly. It feels better to try three diamonds, bidding the opponents’ suit in which you have values. You can bid three spades over a three heart call from your partner, giving him one more chance to play no-trump.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ —
 Q 9 5 4 3
 J 9 3
♣ A J 7 6 2
South West North East
    1 ♣ 1
1 1 ♠ 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 2016. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, January 14th, 2016

If you are out to describe the truth, leave elegance to the tailor.

Albert Einstein


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

*Weak with one major

♠4

In this deal from last year’s NEC tournament in Yokohama Jason Hackett played three notrump as South, after East had opened two diamonds to show a weak hand with one major. One can hardly blame West for failing to lead a heart. While the logic of leading a diamond is obvious, West decided from the lack of a Stayman enquiry to try a major. He led a low spade and Hackett guessed extremely well at trick one to put up the jack (perhaps because the lead might have been from queen-third?).

Now came a low heart from dummy, East inserting the nine. Declarer won the ace, led a club to the king, and a club back to East’s queen. He took the diamond shift and led a third club, catching the defenders in a very unusual position.

If West played low, then he would be known to win the fourth club, since he still had the ace. So declarer would cash the heart king and throw West in with the third diamond. West would be able to cash his minor winners but would then have to lead a spade into the tenace at trick 12.

If West flew up with the club ace, then East would be sure to win the fourth club. Declarer could win the diamond return, cash his spade winner, remove East’s exit in diamonds and run the heart eight, letting East win and cash his master club but lead a heart into the tenace at trick 12. This line would work equally well if the defenders cash the fourth club at once.


Your partner has suggested a hand with more values than a direct jump to three clubs, so you have too much to pass now. Since he clearly does not have a diamond stopper or he would bid no-trump himself, you do not want to suggest no-trump (a three diamond call might show jack-third or an equivalent half stopper). It feels best to raise to four clubs; if partner passes, you probably won’t have missed game.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ J 9 7 3
 K J 7 5
 8 7 4
♣ K 3
South West North East
    1 ♣ 1
Dbl. Pass 2 Pass
2 Pass 3 ♣ Pass
?      

For details of Bobby Wolff’s autobiography, The Lone Wolff, contact theLoneWolff@bridgeblogging.com. If you would like to contact Bobby Wolff, please leave a comment at this blog. Reproduced with permission of United Feature Syndicate, Inc., Copyright 2016. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Wednesday, January 13th, 2016

If you don’t read the newspaper, you’re uninformed. If you read the newspaper, you’re misinformed.

Mark Twain


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

*Three of the five aces counting the trump king as an ace

♣9

In last year’s NEC Cup qualifying tournament more than half the field bid slam here and went down. The editors of the daily bulletin glossed over the play in six spades on a club lead, but Gopal Venkatesh persuaded them to revisit the deal. So how would you play the hand?

After a club lead won in the South hand, it looks natural to play spade ace, spade queen, then two more clubs, pitching the losing heart. Next lead the diamond ace, and a diamond. East does best to discard, then overruff dummy on the next diamond, and force declarer with a heart. You can ruff in the South hand, but now cannot both draw trump and get back to run the good diamonds. In fact, there’s no line of play that works after you cash both of South’s top spades at trick two and three. The idea of picking up West’s trumps when he holds jack-fourth is an illusion — unless diamonds split threetwo.

Can the hand be made if both pointed suits split four-one? Yes; after a non-heart lead, declarer must cash one high spade in the South hand and then lead a low trump to the king. Now come two more rounds of clubs, to pitch the losing heart, followed by ace and a second diamond. East cannot usefully ruff in, so he discards a heart.

So you win the diamond king and ruff a diamond, setting up the suit. If East over-ruffs, win his return and claim the rest. If he pitches, cross to the other high trump in hand and run diamonds. East can score only his trump trick.


How can you catch up after the initial pass, given that a jump in spades doesn’t do your hand justice? You cannot bid no-trump, and if you cuebid you seem poorly placed over anything but a twospade bid from partner. If you settle for the jump to two spades, partner may pass with a minimum opening bid. So you have to choose between two flawed options. Put me down as a pessimist.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ K 10 5 3
 10 5 3 2
 A 3
♣ A J 6
South West North East
      1
Pass Pass Dbl. Pass
?      

For details of Bobby Wolff’s autobiography, The Lone Wolff, contact theLoneWolff@bridgeblogging.com. If you would like to contact Bobby Wolff, please leave a comment at this blog. Reproduced with permission of United Feature Syndicate, Inc., Copyright 2016. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, January 12th, 2016

It’s not the surprise that matters, it’s how you react to it.

Innocent Mwaksikesimbe


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

♠K

This week’s deals all come from the NEC teams tournament held in Yokohama last year. When the Japanese team SARA met India in the last qualifying match, a place in the knockout phase was on the line, with the winner very likely to advance to the knock-out phase, while the loser would be eliminated.

Both East-West pairs did their best to get into their opponent’s auctions, but neither North-South pair tried to defend against a spade contract. In one room Tadashi Teramoto for SARA ended in a partscore in no-trump, losing just the four top tricks in aces and kings. With three no-trump very playable, would this be a small pick-up or a small loss for SARA?

In the other room Gopal Venkatesh for India reach three notrump. Takeshi Niekawa led a top spade and worked out from his partner’s signal to shift to a heart. Had declarer played for 3-3 hearts he would have won in dummy to preserve his entry to hand. Instead Venkatesh won his heart queen and led out his top clubs. East, Shugo Tanaka ducked twice, and now declarer could not afford to run hearts, since this would squeeze his hand in the process.

He therefore played a third club; Tanaka won and shifted back to spades, letting Niekawa win and get off lead in hearts, locking declarer in dummy to lead diamonds from the board, for down one. Nicely defended: this was the only table where three no-trump was defeated. Half the field bid and made game.


Your partner’s redouble was for blood, tending to deny heart support (and he would surely have raised hearts if he did have anything in that suit). Double three clubs, expecting that declarer will have very few tricks on repeated trump leads – or that you can get spade ruffs after a heart lead.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ 10
 A K J 7 6
 K 9 8 7
♣ 5 3 2
South West North East
  1 1 ♠ Pass
2 Dbl. Rdbl. Pass
Pass 3 ♣ Pass Pass
?      

For details of Bobby Wolff’s autobiography, The Lone Wolff, contact theLoneWolff@bridgeblogging.com. If you would like to contact Bobby Wolff, please leave a comment at this blog. Reproduced with permission of United Feature Syndicate, Inc., Copyright 2016. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, January 11th, 2016

Everything that is beautiful and noble is the product of reason and calculation.

Charles Baudelaire


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

*16+, any shape

♣6

This week’s deals all come from last year’s NEC tournament in Yokohama.

This deal came up in the semifinals both declarers reached three no-trump here. Where David Bakhshi was declarer as North, he won East’s spade lead and played a diamond to the 10. West won his king to press on with spades, but declarer covered the nine and his spade intermediates now meant that he had nine top tricks, with a free heart finesse as his try for a 10th winner.

In the other room after a strong club and Stayman sequence, Andrey Gromov, South, ducked the club lead, won the next and led a diamond to the 10 and king. When he won the third club, he knew he needed to establish a spade trick, and he needed the ace to be offside, or the defenders would cash out the clubs.

A spade to the king scored, and now when he cashed a top heart and played two more rounds of diamonds he had squeezed East down to two spades and two hearts. He chose to finesse in hearts, letting East win and return a heart, leaving dummy with two losers for down one.

Had declarer led a spade to the jack, queen and ace in the four-card ending, he would have ensured the contract (unless East had failed to overcall a strong club when holding A J 10 6 2 of spades). East’s four last cards had to be the bare spade ace and three hearts, or two spades and two hearts. Either way, leading a spade would earn declarer the ninth trick from the subsequent forced heart play.


The auction sounds as if declarer has a singleton spade and dummy a chunky five-card spade suit or longer, probably with little outside or it will be hard to beat this contract. My best guess would be to lead the spade nine, hoping to put partner in for a lead through declarer’s diamond king.

LEAD WITH THE ACES

♠ 9 8 7 6
 6 2
 A J 7 4
♣ J 6 2
South West North East
      2 ♣
Pass 2 Pass 2
Pass 2 ♠ Pass 3 ♣
Pass 3 ♠ 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 2016. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, January 10th, 2016

When your partner makes a double for take-out, are jumps weak, invitational or forcing? I held ♠ A-9-6-4, Q-10-6-3, K-9-2, ♣ A-7 and heard my partner double one diamond. Is a cuebid from me forcing to game or would a jump be forcing?

Lillibulero, Taos, N.M.

Immediate jumps in response to a double show 9-11. With both majors and extra shape, you will surely drive this hand to game and start with a cue-bid. Since cuebidding and then simply raising your partner’s major-suit to the three-level is invitational, you will need to do more than that at the next turn. Arguably, you should simply bid game in whatever suit he picks, but I suppose three no-trump might be a better game, so going slow via a second cuebid might be wiser.

My partner and I have agreed to eliminate our two club opening as a strong bid – and to try keep the bidding open at all costs. My hand was ♠ A-K-7-2, J-8-6, J-7-2, ♣ Q-73 and responded one spade to one club. My partner jumped to three clubs and I raised to four, then passed my partner’s five club call … and found him with a 22-count. We both blame each other for missing slam – can you help in the apportionment?

Macaroni, Doylestown, Pa.

I really don’t like the idea of not using a strong two clubs. By all means limit it to, say, balanced or one-suited hands, if you want, but don’t tie one hand behind your back unnecessarily. And it is truly unplayable to use opener’s jump rebid as forcing. It shows extras but 16-18, not more. So I’m happy to count you relatively – but not entirely – blameless; you did agree to play with him after all.

At duplicate pairs my partner was dealt ♠ K-10-8-4, A-9-8, 5, ♣ A-Q-9-6-4. He doubled one diamond and heard me bid one heart. Opener rebid two diamonds. What would you do now, and what would you do if you passed and partner reopened with a double?

Awkward Silence, Marco Island, Fla.

Passing over two diamonds is clear. The first double was correct but you have no more shape, high cards or trump than partner might expect. Your partner’s double asks you to bid, rather than being based on a trump stack, and he won’t have spades or he would have bid them by now. I will try three clubs, expecting maybe a 3-4-3-3 eight or nine count opposite.

We were playing teams, and I had: ♠ J-7-2, Q-9-7-3, A-10-4, ♣ J-8-2. My LHO opened one heart and my partner doubled, over which my RHO bid one spade. I passed, thinking we would beat them, but they ended up in two clubs and it made. My partner said I had to take some action with an eight-count. What do you think?

Pot Luck, Staten Island, N.Y.

Bid one no-trump at your first turn. When you have your LHO’s suit well stopped you should rely on your partner to produce something in spades – his double promises the other suits, remember? Doubling one spade with nothing in trumps is a very speculative maneuver – but I’m not saying it couldn’t work.

My partner and I play fairly aggressively, with the understanding that most low-level doubles are take-out. But we want to define exceptions to that. Could you give us a few areas to define when doubles become penalty? One particular problem we find is when we respond one no-trump to an opener, and then the opponents butt in.

Mad Axman, Newark, N.J.

In simple terms, play opener’s doubles, whether under or over the trumps, as take-out. Play responder’s doubles as extra values without clear-cut support or a long suit. So, say you respond one no-trump to one heart and the opponents bid two spades. If opener doubles, that shows short spades, and may not be extra values. If responder doubles, it suggests 8-11 HCP, maybe 2-2 or 3-2 in the majors.


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, January 9th, 2016

Forget your opponents; always play against par.

Sam Snead


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

Q

Given that the solution to today’s deal feels a touch artificial, you may not be entirely surprised to discover that it derives from a very old par contest problem. In those deals you rarely run into a favorable break or a winning finesse, so be warned that if your intended solution might fail, it probably will!

When West leads the diamond king, you can do better than taking the club finesse immediately, planning to ruff a club in dummy. That is a perfectly reasonable line; after losing the club finesse you would regain the lead and would draw two rounds of trump with the ace and king then hope to ruff out the clubs. But the lie of the cards is very hostile to that approach, and today you would go down like a stone.

Instead, the solution is to focus on dummy’s delicious spade spots. At trick two your shortage of entries to dummy means that you must cash the second diamond winner, unblocking your spade ace. Next lead out the spade queen and discard a club from hand. It will not do West any good to duck this (there are lies of the cards where if West had four spades it might help to duck the first two spades then win the third and lead a fourth to kill a discard, but not today). As it is, he wins the spade king at once but cannot stop you coming to 12 tricks via three spades, six hearts and three minor suit winners.


Whether the opponents have intervened — with a bid or a double — or stayed silent, responder’s jumps at his second turn are invitational. Your singleton heart is not a bad holding given your fourth trump, and partner must have shape or he would have passed the double. So you are worth a jump to three clubs now.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ K 3 2
 4
 Q J 10 8 2
♣ K 10 8 4
South West North East
    1 ♣ Pass
1 Dbl. 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.