Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, June 30th, 2014

Variety's the very spice of life,
That gives it all its flavor.

William Cowper


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

K

Pablo Lambardi of Argentina has been a fixture on his country's international team for a couple of decades — remarkable for one who looks so young! He found an ingenious position in this deal from the finals of a major Pairs game in a recent Australian championship.

He held the South cards and declared one spade after opening one diamond and hearing one heart to his right, doubled by his partner, over which his call of one spade ended the auction. This bid can often be made on a three-card suit, since if opener does not have a heart stop or a rebiddable minor, this may be the least of all evils.

The defenders led four rounds of hearts, dummy pitching a club, with East ruffing in with the spade nine. Lambardi overruffed and led a spade to dummy and a club to the king. West ruffed and played ace and another spade.

As the third spade was led, and won in dummy, what was East to discard? If he pitched a diamond, declarer would come to hand in clubs, ruff a diamond, and take two more club tricks in the ending, since both North and East would be down to just clubs. When East chose instead to throw a club, Lambardi discarded his blocking club ace, and simply set up clubs for one loser.

Making one spade was a near top for him — the field was going down in clubs on the North-South cards, often doubled.


Leading a club (whether you choose the ace or a small one) seems far too committal. Partner's failure to raise clubs suggests he is not loaded for bear in that suit, and there seems no reason to broach diamonds either. My instincts are to lead a heart rather than a spade, since dummy may well be very short of spades and entries. Leading a heart won't do much for declarer that he could not do for himself.

LEAD WITH THE ACES

♠ 8 6 2
 Q 8 4
 K 9 4
♣ A 10 9 7
South West North East
1♣ 1♠
2♣ 2 Pass 2♠
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 2014. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, June 29th, 2014

I'm eager to experiment with some home-grown conventions. If any convention is explained to the opponents, should it be allowed? We are talking "club" level, but I am curious at why some conventions might be banned at regional tournaments. How can a convention give a partnership an advantage if the opponents are aware of it?

Rocket Scientist, Bay City, Mich.

There are different degrees of license; general and mid-chart are two such categories, the latter being more wide-ranging. In essence you cannot play any gadget until it is licensed. Most clubs will let you do what you like in your own constructive auctions, but won't let you open or overcall with a bid that requires defensive methods to be discussed. And that is how it should be.

I held ♠ A-Q-4-3-2,  Q-5-3,  K-10, ♣ Q-4-3. My partner opened one club, and I responded one spade. Now my LHO overcalled two diamonds, passed around to me. We play support doubles, so my partner had denied holding as many as three spades. I chose to double (do you agree?) and heard a two-spade response. What now?

Lumpfish, Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

What an unexpected rebid! Your double looks fine, and I suppose your partner rates to have a 2-3-5-3 pattern with the doubleton spade king. I'd guess to jump to three no-trump now, hoping partner hasn't forgotten to make a support double at his previous turn.

When responder raises opener's second suit, the call seems to have an awkwardly wide range. Holding ♠ K,  K-Q-10-7-3,  K-10-2, ♣ K-J-3-2, I heard my partner respond one spade to my one-heart opening, then raise my two-club rebid to three. Was I supposed to pass, drive to three no-trump, or explore further for hearts?

Outlier, Cedar Rapids, Iowa

Partner sometimes issues a courtesy raise with four trumps and slightly less than an invitational hand, but you should not necessarily assume that to be the case. You have too much to pass, but rather than going directly to three no-trump, you might temporize with the fourth suit, three diamonds, hoping partner can produce heart support or bid three no-trump himself.

Recently my partner opened one club, and I held ♠ —,  A-5-3-2,  A-K-J-9-5-3, ♣ K-8-4. In a noncompetitive auction should I bid one diamond, intending to reverse to hearts, or bid hearts, intending to jump-shift to diamonds? I chose to bid one diamond, and my LHO pre-empted to two spades. My partner bid two no-trump, and I bid three hearts, over which partner dutifully bid four hearts, which I passed. However, we were cold for slam. Where did we go wrong?

Missed Connection, Albuquerque, N.M.

Any time you have game-forcing values, bid your long suit first. So far so good, but your partner showed 18-19 with her two-no-trump bid. That means you should drive the hand to at least a small slam — indeed, you might well be cold for a grand slam on a good day.

Recently in Bid With the Aces, you advocated a two-club rebid after opening one heart and hearing a one-spade response, with ♠ 5-2,  Q-J-10-9-7,  A-K, ♣ K-J-8-2. Might not a rebid of one no-trump keep you comfortably low, and isn't your hand closer to balanced than unbalanced?

Balancing Act, Muncie, Ind.

One can make a case for rebidding one no-trump to get across the basic nature of the hand (minimum balanced). However, the intermediates in the long suits argue to me for the simple rebid in clubs. Whatever anyone tells you, a hand with 5-4-2-2 pattern is more suited to play in suits than in no-trump, all else being equal. At the very least, suggest your shape and let partner decide.


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 2014. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Saturday, June 28th, 2014

The sharp thorn often produces delicate roses.

Ovid


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

K

Today's deal shows two expert players handling a delicate grand slam from the Open Teams at Ostend last summer. In the auction shown, South (Per-Erik Austberg) knew his side had all the keycards after the five-no-trump bid, and his solid clubs looked like enough for him to accept the invitation.

Austberg won the heart lead and took two top trumps to test the suit, then cashed the club ace and ruffed a club. Now he ruffed a heart to reach hand to draw the last trump. On this, dummy discarded a diamond, but what should East throw? At the table he chose to discard a heart. Austberg crossed to the diamond ace and ruffed another heart. That left only West guarding the hearts, so when declarer took his two winning clubs, West was squeezed in the red suits.

Declarer had done the best he could, but was there a better defense against the grand? When Petter Tondel declared seven spades, Agnes Snellers as East pitched a small diamond on the third spade. Tondel now carefully played the diamond jack to the ace, felling East’s queen, ruffed a heart, then cashed the two remaining top clubs. East followed suit, but West had to throw a heart and a diamond. Correctly reading East as having the winning heart and club left, declarer triumphantly finessed the diamond eight at trick 12 to make his grand slam.

If declarer does not unblock his diamond jack early, he no longer has the option to finesse in diamonds.


You have no reason for the time being to assume that East is playing games. So ignore your spade suit now and bid two clubs. As the auction progresses, you can reassess the position and think about bidding spades if the opportunity arises.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ K 9 8 4 3
 5
 J 4
♣ A K Q 9 3
South West North East
1 Pass 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 2014. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, June 27th, 2014

A throw of the dice will never abolish chance.

Stephane Mallarme


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

A

This deal was played in the Pairs Championships at Ostend last summer. The deal does not exemplify any great technical theme, but it was so much fun for the defenders that I thought it worthwhile to show my readers.

If you focus solely on the North and South cards, you would expect North to open a strong no-trump and be transferred into two spades. You’d expect declarer to bring home his contract unless trumps were hostile. In fact, the spades are quite friendly, but things did not work out as expected.

Where Waseem Naqvi and Lee Rosenthal were defending, they pushed their opponents to the three-level, then showed how to maximize their trump holdings.

Rosenthal, West, started with the diamond ace, continuing with a diamond to Naqvi’s jack. Naqvi switched to his singleton club, then took a club ruff to play back a diamond. Declarer ruffed optimistically with the spade eight, overruffed by Rosenthal with the nine. A third round of clubs was ruffed with the spade king and overruffed by East with the ace.

Now Naqvi played another diamond, and declarer had to decide if the remaining spades were as in the diagram or the other way around. When he guessed wrong by ruffing with the spade 10, it was overruffed by the jack. Now a fourth round of clubs promoted Naqvi’s spade seven. The defense was finally out of ammunition, but they had made all five of their trumps for four down, and virtually all the matchpoints.


If you trust your partner to deliver the right shape for his takeout double, you should compete to two spades now. Yes, partner does not rate to have four spades unless he is very minimum, but he could easily be suitable for spades, while holding only three trumps. More to the point, when each side has at least an eight-card fit, don't give up too early.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ 10 8 6 5 4
 K Q
 5 2
♣ J 10 3 2
South West North East
1 Dbl. Pass
1♠ 2 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 2014. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, June 26th, 2014

If thou must choose
Between the chances, choose the odd:
Read the New Yorker, trust in God,
And take short views.

W.H. Auden


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

*A pre-empt in either hearts or spades

8

Even the experts sometimes lose their way. In today's deal declarer had two chances to make a doubled partscore, but missed both.

In one room West had made eight tricks in clubs, but in the other room South was playing for bigger stakes. Against two hearts doubled, Ricco van Prooijen led his singleton heart to the three, two and king. Now declarer misguessed by playing a spade to dummy’s jack at trick two. East, Marion Michielsen, took the spade queen and played the diamond five. Declarer went up with the ace and cashed three more spades, fatally discarding one of dummy’s clubs instead of the lone diamond. Michielsen ruffed the 13th spade and continued with the diamond queen, then switched to clubs. Van Prooijen could win the second club and play a killing third round of diamonds. Declarer ruffed this diamond low, but Michielsen overruffed and still had a trump trick. The defenders took one trick in each side-suit, plus three trump tricks.

If declarer discards dummy’s diamond on the fourth spade, Michielsen could ruff the fourth spade and play her diamond, but dummy then ruffs and plays a club. East can duck to allow West to win, but declarer discards dummy’s remaining club on the diamond continuation. A further diamond can then be ruffed with the heart jack. If East overruffs, that is the last trick for the defense. If she discards her last nontrump, declarer leads a low heart from dummy, endplaying East in trumps.


There are not many positions where I turn into a coward, but this is one of them. With limited values, I am facing a passed partner, and I have the sort of suit I don't really want to command my partner to lead. So the prospect of making an overcall that takes up no space is not an inviting one. I will pass, and let my partner lead what he likes, if necessary.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ Q 5 4
 Q 9 7 4 2
 Q 5
♣ K Q 6
South West North East
Pass 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 2014. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Wednesday, June 25th, 2014

The moment a man begins to talk about technique that's proof that he is fresh out of ideas.

Raymond Chandler


East North
Neither ♠ 9 7 6
 9 4 3
 A K Q 3
♣ A 9 8
West East
♠ K
 5
 10 9 8 6 5 4 2
♣ Q J 4 2
♠ 10 8 5 3
 7 6 2
 J 7
♣ 10 7 6 3
South
♠ A Q J 4 2
 A K Q J 10 8
 —
♣ K 5
South West North East
Pass
1 Pass 2 Pass
2♠ Pass 3♣ Pass
3 Pass 4♣ Pass
4 NT Pass 5 Pass
7 NT All pass    

10

Today's deal shows one of the world's best technicians at work on a grand slam. Geir Helgemo sat South, and when he heard about his partner's two aces, he immediately jumped to seven no-trump. This was for him the last board of an eventually unsuccessful attempt to qualify for the mixed pairs final at Ostend last summer.

West led the diamond 10 to dummy’s ace, and at this point, Helgemo could see 12 top tricks. The working spade finesse might bring in the 13th trick in a pedestrian way but, of course, the first thing Helgemo did was to have a look at possible squeezes. So he went on to cash the other two top diamonds, discarding two more spades and getting the interesting news that East could not follow to the third diamond.

Helgemo followed up by taking his six heart winners, reducing to a five-card ending where East kept three clubs and two spades while West had one diamond, one spade and three clubs.

On the last heart West has to discard a club, to keep his singleton spade honor, while East has to throw a spade to keep clubs guarded. So no matter which opponent has the spade king, declarer should make the hand by leading a spade to the ace. That line would fail only if West has stayed silent with 7-5 distribution.

Note that in seven hearts, an initial club lead destroys the entry position, as declarer cannot cash the three top diamonds safely.


It is tempting to rebid one no-trump to show the basic nature of the hand, but I'd prefer a somewhat more robust heart stopper. Since my partner has guaranteed five spades (with four he would have made a negative double), I can raise spades, knowing we have an eight-card fit. It may not be elegant, but it serves the purpose.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ 9 7 6
 9 4 3
 A K Q 3
♣ A 9 8
South West North East
1 1 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 2014. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, June 24th, 2014

The greatest obstacle to being a hero is the doubt whether one may not be going to prove oneself a fool.

Nathaniel Hawthorne


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

♠K

Sometimes the best stories have a sting in the tail. England international Barry Myers reported this deal, in which he had simultaneously played the hero and the goat.

Myers had experimented at his third turn with two hearts, meaning it as a lead-directing’ club raise; but he found his partner could not take a joke. Against three hearts the defenders led a top spade and shifted to trumps. Myers won the queen in hand and knocked out the club ace. The defenders forced dummy with a second spade, and Myers led the club king, ruffed by West, giving declarer the blueprint to the whole deal. The next spade was ruffed in dummy, and now it was up to declarer to find the legitimate route to bring home six of the seven last tricks.

The winning line is to play ace, king and a third diamond, ruffing with the heart jack, as Myers did. Now you play ace and a second trump, endplaying East with his heart eight to lead clubs into dummy’s tenace. If East ruffs in on an earlier diamond, you can instead overruff and draw trump, then concede a spade.

Very nice — so where’s the catch? As Myers discovered later on, on the third round of spades West had led his jack (squashing his partner’s 10), rather than a low spade. Accordingly, Myers’ remaining spades were now high, and he could simply have ruffed a diamond to hand and drawn trump. His hand would then have been high, and he would have had an overtrick.


Simplest here might be to pass, but you'd like to try to find your side's best minor-suit fit and to stop the opponents from getting together in spades. One route would be to rebid two clubs. Then if either opponent bids two spades, you can bid again with two no-trump to suggest the minors, not an attempt to play there. If you wanted to play two no-trump, you would have let partner play one no-trump.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ 8
 10 9 4
 A K J 5
♣ K Q J 9 5
South West North East
1♣ 1 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 2014. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, June 23rd, 2014

He played the King as though under momentary apprehension that someone else was about to play the ace.

Eugene Field


South North
Neither ♠ 10 8 4
 Q J
 K Q 6 3 2
♣ 5 4 3
West East
♠ Q J 9 7 5 2
 8 4 3
 10 8
♣ 10 7
♠ 3
 K 10 9 7 5
 J 9 5 4
♣ A Q 9
South
♠ A K 6
 A 6 2
 A 7
♣ K J 8 6 2
South West North East
1♣ 2♠ Pass Pass
2 NT Pass 3 NT All pass

♠Q

Aces are made to take kings, they say. Up to a point, but there are always exceptions, as this deal from last year's European Open Championships in Ostend demonstrates. In fact, all the deals this week come from that event, marking the fact that the European championships are starting now.

In the auction South’s one-club opening was Polish, showing either a minimum balanced hand or 18-20 high-card points, and the two-no-trump rebid showed a balanced hand with extra values — but not necessarily any real club length.

Against three no-trump, West (Sue Picus) started with the spade queen, taken by declarer’s ace. She played four rounds of diamonds, and when Alex Kolesnik got in with the diamond jack, he put the heart king on the table. Had declarer ducked, she would have remained in control. But when declarer won the heart ace, the only way for her to get to the good diamond in dummy was to play a heart. Now Kolesnik was poised with the club ace and good hearts to cash, so declarer ended up a trick short.

Had declarer ducked the first heart, she could have won the heart continuation in dummy, cashed her diamond, and led a club toward her king to score her ninth trick sooner or later.

Conceding nine tricks in three no-trump would have represented an average result for East-West, but defeating the game was a near top.


When dummy is known to be very weak, your target is not only to set up tricks for your side, but also to avoid giving declarer tricks to which he is not entitled, or to give him finesses he might find hard to take. Since your partner did not act, I'd be inclined to avoid a spade lead. And because a club lead feels too committal, I guess a small diamond is all that is left.

LEAD WITH THE ACES

♠ Q 7 4
 K 9 3 2
 J 4 3
♣ A 8 6
South West North East
Pass Pass 1
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 2014. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, June 22nd, 2014

My partner and I had an expensive misunderstanding when I opened one heart and he responded one no-trump over my LHO's one-spade call. My RHO raised to two spades now, and I doubled, negative, holding ♠ 9,  K-Q-10-8-3,  K-J-4, ♣ K-Q-3-2. This did not work out well when my partner mistook it for a penalty double!

Judge Dread, Mitchell, S.D.

Sometimes when the opponents bid and raise a suit, doubles simply show extras, requesting partner to act. However after you or your partner has bid no-trump over opposition intervention, your subsequent doubles tend to be penalties. Here, I would expect your double to be real high-card extras, or trump length. With your hand, I would simply pass two spades or compete to three clubs.

This hand appeared in our paper, showing South opening one spade. West, who held ♠ —,  A-9-2,  Q-J-9-5-3, ♣ 9-8-6-5-4, passed, allowing his LHO to close out the auction with four spades. The next player passed with a strong hand that included five diamonds to the ace-king. He would have bid five diamonds and made it if West had come in with the unusual no-trump. Is there a recommended strength requirement for the unusual no-trump in various circumstances?

Friendly Fred, Wilmington, N.C.

Thank you for your very challenging question. It feels wrong to bid with a weak hand and bad suits, but move the heart ace into the clubs and one might bid at favorable vulnerability. My suggestion is clearly wrong on the actual hand. That at least proves I don't qualify as a results-merchant. At equal vulnerability I might bid with the actual hand and the club king instead of the nine, maybe.

Some of our opponents play third and lowest (or third-and-fifth leads – are they the same?). How does the rule of 11 work now?

Fingers and Thumbs, Bellevue, Wash.

Third and low means you lead third-highest from a six-card suit, while in third and fifth you might lead fifth-highest. The rule of 11 is changed to the rule of 12 if the card led appears to be third from four, and to the rule of 10 if the card is fifth highest. So when what appears to be a fifth-highest three is led, the other three hands have seven cards higher than the three between them.

Against silent opponents, my partner opened one spade. I held ♠ A-Q-J-9-3,  10-9,  A-K-5-3, ♣ 6-4, and responded two diamonds, game-forcing. My partner now bid three clubs. Should I play my partner for extras and bid three spades, four spades, or even five spades? If I bid three spades and partner bids four spades, what next? (At the table I passed, missing a laydown slam.)

Puzzle Maven, Corpus Christi, Texas

I assume you could not set spades earlier with a Jacoby two-no-trump call. That said, I play that three clubs promises extra shape or high-cards or both. You might try a jump to five spades, but bidding three spades and respecting partner's sign-off is pessimistic but certainly possible. A jump to four spades would be right only if you play that bid to show good trumps and diamonds, no heart control — but some people do.

I saw what was quite clearly a light-hearted reference to the beer card in a bridge magazine recently. Would you explain what this term means?

Pale Ale, Milwaukee, Wisconsin

The tradition of rewarding a player who won a deal's last trick with the diamond seven when diamonds were not trump has been around for a couple of decades. I believe it started in Denmark. But whether anyone actually does so or just gives nominal credit, I do not know.


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 2014. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Saturday, June 21st, 2014

In Switzerland they had brotherly love, they had five hundred years of democracy and peace. And what did that produce? The cuckoo clock.

Orson Welles


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

♣9

One of the world's greatest players never to win a world title was Jean Besse of Switzerland. Whether as a player, an analyst, or a commentator, Besse was a master of his profession.

Today’s deal was deemed interesting (by him); an indication of its difficulty and elegance. Besse was sitting in the South seat.

Declaring six spades, Besse won the club lead in dummy, led a spade to the ace, and a spade to the nine. The good news was that he had no trump loser, the bad that he could not ruff a heart in dummy without giving up on the trump finesse.

When the diamond king and queen revealed the bad news there, he led a club to the ace, on which West had to throw a heart. Next came the top hearts and a heart ruff in dummy. The diamond ace then reduced everyone down to three cards.

South and West each had two trumps and a diamond, West having the master diamond, while dummy had a spade, a diamond and a losing club.

Now, with the lead in dummy came the coup de grace; Besse led the club six, and discarded his diamond loser, as did West. East could now take his pick between a heart and club lead; either way, declarer would ruff in with the spade eight, and West’s sure spade trick was smothered. Whether he underruffed or overruffed, he could no longer score a trump trick.


I'm not completely averse to the idea of rebidding one spade with diamonds and spades, but only if the suits are so good (or the club guard so weak) that I want to avoid suggesting suitability for a call of two no-trump. With only four diamonds, I really have a balanced hand, and this is what a jump to two no-trump suggests.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ K 9 3 2
 A 2
 A 7 4 3
♣ A K 6
South West North East
1 Pass 1 Pass
?      

For details of Bobby Wolff’s autobiography, The Lone Wolff, contact theLoneWolff@bridgeblogging.com. If you would like to contact Bobby Wolff, please leave a comment at this blog. Reproduced with permission of United Feature Syndicate, Inc., Copyright 2014. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.