Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, October 28th, 2014

You have only one life and one chance to do all the things you want to do.

Melchor Lam


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

3

These days bridge has become far more level at the top than it was 20 years ago. And this is especially so in the women's game. This can be seen by the fact that while the top countries (USA, Italy, China, France, England, Netherlands) almost always qualify for the later stages of the world championships, there are many other countries who can upset the seeding books, and frequently do.

Spain is just one of those countries, and Nuria Almirall demonstrated her talents here. She found herself in a pretty awful spot, on this deal from the European Championships, but did not give up hope.

Almirall had reached six clubs as South after an auction where both players might have done just a little too much — though it is hard to criticize either player, North should probably not go past three no-trump with such poor controls.

Clearly one might succeed by finding a singleton heart king, but Nuria did better than that. She won the diamond lead in dummy, cashed dummy’s other diamond, then played the spade ace and king and ruffed a spade. Now she cashed one more diamond, ruffed the fourth diamond with a master trump in dummy and exited with the club queen.

West won her bare ace, and was forced to open up hearts or concede a ruff-and discard. She played a heart, and Nuria was not going to spoil a good piece of reporting by misguessing whether to put in the 10 or queen, was she?


Your partner's call of four clubs is a slam-try, and with your remarkably good trumps you have enough to cooperate with a call of four spades, a cue-bid implicitly agreeing clubs, the last-bid suit. If you had diamond preference, you would probably bid four diamonds over four clubs. Just for the record, a bid of four no-trump by you here would be to play.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ A K 5
 Q 10 7 2
 Q J
♣ Q J 10 8
South West North East
1 1
3 NT Pass 4♣ 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, October 27th, 2014

The people have little intelligence, the great no heart. If I had to choose, I should have no hesitation: I would be of the people.

Jean de la Bruyere


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

♣3

Today's deal has nothing too subtle in it. All you need to do is to concentrate on your opponent's carding.

When West leads the club three against your contract of three no-trump, you win East’s nine with your queen. You play a heart to dummy’s queen and East’s ace, and East continues with the club jack. Plan the play.

East has kindly told you the exact layout of the club suit. If you think about it, you know West is likely to have four clubs, and East’s first two plays in the suit mean he must have the J-10-9, mustn’t he?

You should win the club to leave the suit blocked, and play a second heart. West will win and can play a low club to East’s 10. But since there is no longer any communication for the two defensive hands, you can later take a spade finesse into the safe, East, hand for your ninth trick. If you made the mistake of ducking the club jack, you will go down when East continues the suit.

Of course, one deal doesn’t prove anything, but there is certainly a case that one might make for steering clear of leading from a four-card suit headed by a single honor. Both diamonds and clubs are unattractive combinations to lead from — not that anything else is that much better, though I might well opt for the doubleton spade as more passive.


Before you lead, you should establish if dummy has promised four spades, or if this was the only way he could produce an invitational raise in no-trump (and yes, your opponents should tell you without being asked). Assuming dummy has not promised spades, I would lead one, but if dummy has shown spades, I would lead a club.

LEAD WITH THE ACES

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

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

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, October 26th, 2014

Say you are dealt the following uninspiring collection: ♠ Q-3-2,  6-5,  Q-9-6-5-2, ♣ J-7-4 and are in fourth chair. Would you take action after hearing one club on your left, doubled by partner, and one heart on your right? I passed and the opponents bought the hand in two hearts, while we could have made a diamond partscore.

Stumbling Sam, Orlando, Fla.

Your initial pass is reasonable, but my intention would be to back in with two diamonds at my next turn. In fact, if the opponents bid and raise hearts, announcing a fit, I might even contemplate risking a balance of three diamonds, assuming that they had eight trumps between them.

What is your opinion on opening a strong no-trump with ♠ 8-2,  K-9-6-2,  A-Q-8-5, ♣ A-K-8? While the high-cards are perfect, I believe the small doubleton is a problem because a major-suit lead is the most common lead against a no-trump contract. Am I being too conservative?

Man Overboard, Pittsburgh, Pa.

Any time you have a balanced 15-17 (especially, by the way, 16, where any other treatment of the hand except as a balanced 15-17 looks unacceptable) you must open 1 NT. Even with a five-card major — unless all your values are in two suits — the no-trump call is generally right.

I had a problem on the third round of the auction when I picked up ♠ 10-7-4,  Q-10-8-5,  A-Q-9-5, ♣ A-J and opened one diamond in second seat. My LHO overcalled one spade, my partner made a negative double, and I rebid two hearts, passed around to my RHO, who bid two spades. Should I bid three hearts now or pass?

Fighting Mad, Bay City, Mich.

When you bid two hearts, you showed four hearts and a minimum opening — exactly what you have. Since your RHO's two-spade call might be based on a doubleton spade, your three little spades are not a bonus. I'd pass smoothly and hope partner can find a second call.

When you open one no-trump and partner responds with Stayman, how do you deal with intervention? Can you ever bid at the three-level?

Going for Broke, Peru, Ind.

If the opponents double, then make your normal call, except that redouble shows four or more very good clubs, while two diamonds shows real diamonds, and pass is the default call with nothing to say. Over higher intervention, bid at the two-level if you can, doubling for penalties. Only bid at the three-level with a five-card suit, plus a maximum.

What do you think of giving suit-preference when partner leads an ace and dummy has a singleton — or some other holding where continuation seems unlikely to be right? If not, what should you play?

Smoke Signals, Greenville, S.C.

It is remarkable how often continuation of the suit led is the right defense in such situations. However, to my mind, suit-preference is a simple enough way to go if dummy has two :possible" shifts for partner to make. A middle card therefore asks for continuation of the led suit. If dummy has only one sensible alternative continuation at trick two, then encouraging the opening lead should ask partner not to make that obvious shift.


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, October 25th, 2014

We are all controlled by the world in which we live, and part of that world has been and will be constructed by men.

Burrhus Skinner


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

*Shortage

**Two keycards

K

The Dyspeptics Club recently contacted the Guinness Book of World Records to enter South as the luckiest man in the world, based on the number of honor cards he averages per deal. But as North bitterly remarked, the high-cards he is dealt fall by the wayside, since he never seems to make the contracts that require more than a modicum of care. And today's deal was especially painful, since if one cannot focus one's attention in a grand slam, when can one do so?

After the lead of the diamond king to the ace, South cashed the spade ace, drew trump with the aid of the finesse, and tried to make something of the minor suits. Alas, when clubs were not 3-3 and East could retain control of the diamond suit, the contract had to go down one.

South was extremely unlucky to run into a 4-0 trump break, but since that was his only concern in the deal, he should have taken steps at trick two to cope with a 4-0 break with East having the length.

The correct play is to win the diamond ace, take a diamond ruff, and only then to play a spade to the ace. Now take a second diamond ruff, lead a heart to the king, play a spade to the 10, then unblock the spade king, lead a club to the ace, cash the spade queen, and claim. You make four trumps in dummy and two ruffs in hand, three hearts, three clubs and a diamond.


Whether or not the call of two diamonds is game-forcing or forcing for one round, I am deeply uncomfortable with bidding three clubs on a hand with minimum shape and high cards, plus most of the values in an unbid suit. I could live with rebidding two spades as a temporizing move, or bidding two no-trump, which gets the values across, though it suggests two diamonds.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ K 10 7 6 3
 A Q J
 9
♣ K 9 6 4
South West North East
1♠ Pass 2 Pass
?      

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

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, October 24th, 2014

Standing on the defensive indicates insufficient strength; attacking, a superabundance of strength.

Sun Tzu


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

♠Q

As South, one of my correspondents received the lead of the spade queen against three no-trump in a multiple team event. Do you win or duck? Decide before reading further.

Our first declarer thought for a moment before playing low from the board. East overtook with the king and returned a spade. Declarer won in dummy, perforce, and crossed to hand to take the club finesse, but when it lost, East played a heart through, sending the contract down two.

At the next table, declarer thought for a long time before winning the spade ace at the first trick in an attempt to block the suit. East decided to play low, playing for the layout in spades to look approximately like it did. Declarer came to hand and tried the club finesse, but when it lost, East unblocked his spade king. The heart switch led to two down again.

At table three, my correspondent also won the opening lead, and East correctly refrained from unblocking. Here declarer made the correct move at trick two when he led a heart to his king and West’s ace. West won and reverted to spades, but there was no entry to the long suit, so declarer came home with his game.

But note that if West had ducked his heart ace, declarer would have gone down, whether he played on hearts or clubs. After a second heart, West would set up the suit for his partner, while East still had the club king for an entry.


There are hands with this pattern where you might offer a choice of contracts with a call of two hearts now. If, for example, you had a chunky five-card heart suit headed by the Q-J-10, your hand might play much better in hearts than in spades. The reverse holds true here; your values look just fine for play in spades, so give preference to two spades.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ K 3
 10 7 5 4 2
 4 2
♣ K 9 7 5
South West North East
Pass 1♠ Pass
1 NT 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 2014. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, October 23rd, 2014

Respect was mingled with surprise.

Sir Walter Scott


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

♣J

An early card-play lesson given to beginners is "play the high honors from the short hand first, so as not to block the suit." So a novice might have looked askance at declarer's handling of this six-heart contract, on receipt of a club lead.

South could count on 11 tricks, and courtesy of his diamond holding, appreciated that his best chance of a 12th trick lay in the diamond suit, so long as the missing diamond honors were divided between the defenders; or if West held both the queen and jack.

But he saw another problem: the diamonds might become blocked, with the defenders switching to dislodge the spade ace before diamonds could be untangled. So, seeing the need to keep a late club entry in dummy, declarer won the lead in hand with the club ace. As the only other entries to hand were in trumps, South led the diamond 10 at trick two. East won with the queen and found the spade switch.

Winning in dummy, declarer proceeded to draw trump in four rounds, pitching a spade from North, then advanced the diamond nine. Hoping that East held the diamond eight, West covered with the jack. But on winning with the king, declarer was able to return to his diamond eight, play a club to dummy’s queen, then discard his losing spade on the diamond ace.

All that remained was for declarer to ruff a spade with his last trump and cash the club king for 12 tricks.


If you are playing two-over-one, where two clubs sets up a game force, it is technically correct to play that a jump to three no-trump suggests the values for a strong no-trump but a semibalanced pattern. A call of two no-trump should show 12-14 balanced, or a hand with 18-plus HCP, planning to bid on over a sign-off. If you do not play that style, then jump to three no-trump now, to show 18-19.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ A J 8 2
 A J 5
 A K 4 2
♣ Q 4
South West North East
1 Pass 2♣ Pass
?      

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

The Aces on Bridge: Wednesday, October 22nd, 2014

Good counselors lack no clients.

William Shakespeare


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

3

Today's deal comes from a recent match in the 2014 Grand National Teams heats, to determine which team would represent each district in the knockout teams at the Las Vegas nationals last August.

Both tables reached six spades on relatively blind auctions, and both Wests did well to lead diamonds, setting up a potential winner for their side if they could regain the lead.

Both declarers tackled trumps in predictably unsuccessful fashion by cashing the ace and king. When the trump loser came to light, the key to the deal was to dispose of the diamonds from the South hand on dummy’s club and heart winners.

One declarer followed the uninspired line of playing on hearts first, the suit he had far fewer cards in. West ruffed the third and cashed his diamond for down one. The second declarer recognized the point of the deal. He saw that he needed West to have at least three clubs, so he might as well play clubs before hearts — just in case the defender had his actual pattern of two hearts and four clubs. Had the clubs broken 3-3, South would then have tried to cash the three heart winners before the fourth club. As it was, when East showed out on the third club, it was safe to take the fourth club first, and only then to play on hearts. By the time West could ruff in, the second diamond had already been discarded.


A simple raise to two no-trump here suggests a balanced 18-19 HCP. There is no need to drive all the way to game — that would suggest a fundamental mistrust of your partner's judgment. If he doesn't bid game, you probably do not want to play there. A jump to three no-trump would be based on extra playing strength — typically a very good six-card spade suit.

BID WITH THE ACES

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

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, October 21st, 2014

Whenever a man can get hold of numbers, they are invaluable: if correct; they assist in informing his own mind, but they are still more useful in deluding the minds of others. Numbers are the masters of the weak, but the slaves of the strong.

Charles Babbage


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

*Roman Keycard Blackwood

**Two of the five keycards, counting the trump king plus the spade queen.

2

These days the Jacoby two-no-trump response is a common way to set partner's major-suit as trump, and to find out whether opener has extra values, or extra trumps, or side-suit shortage. The situation is more complicated when the opponents butt in, though. Opener needs to be able to show shortage or control in the opponents' suit — or even to be able to penalize them for their temerity.

In today’s auction, when the opponents intervened over North’s Jacoby two-no-trump, South took the opportunity to show a second suit. North construed this as a decent five-card holding and did not have the mechanism available to check on the quality of the side-suit, so took a shot at the grand slam. Then it was up to South to justify his partner’s optimism.

The heart two was led and ruffed. Declarer cashed the spade ace, king, and queen. Now it would have been natural to assume that the overcaller was short in a specific side-suit, but South saw there was no rush to commit himself.

Next came the diamond ace and king, and a heart ruff to hand and a diamond ruff in dummy. This was the critical play, as it revealed that East had started with only a doubleton diamond, and thus precisely a 1-7-2-3 shape.

It was now an easy matter to cash the club king and then to finesse against East’s club queen. Note: that if declarer discards his diamond loser on the heart ace, he never finds out the critical piece of information.


Some questions are unanswerable without knowing the vulnerability and form of scoring. I would not consider bidding if vulnerable in any form of the game; I suppose I must be getting old. At matchpoints or teams I would bid three diamonds if nonvulnerable, assuming I was playing with an understanding partner.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ 9 7 3
 10 6 2
 Q 10 9 6 3 2
♣ 3
South West North East
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: Monday, October 20th, 2014

Everything has its drawbacks, as the man said when his mother-in-law died, and they came down on him for the funeral expenses.

Jerome K. Jerome


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

K

Larry Cohen, of the "Law of Total Tricks" fame, publishes a free monthly newsletter on the internet, which is well worth checking out. That's where I found today's deal.

First, let’s start by taking the East hand. After two passes, South opens one diamond, and West overcalls with a weak two hearts. When North makes a negative double, it is over to you.

As partner has advertised at least six hearts and you have four, Cohen recommends that you bid four hearts — the level of the combined trump holding, putting maximum pressure on South.

Despite your best efforts, South bids four spades. Time to change seats — now you are South declaring that contract. West leads the heart king, won in dummy. What now? Diamonds need be set up before trumps are drawn. So lead a diamond to the ace and play another diamond to put East on lead.

Back comes a heart, and the crux of the hand has been reached. You need to ruff a diamond in dummy to set up that suit, and if you ruff this heart in hand, you will lose control against a 4-1 trump break. As there is an inevitable club loser, why not lose it now? Instead of ruffing, discard the club six.

A third heart can now be ruffed in dummy. Lead a club to hand for another diamond ruff high, draw trump, taking the 4-1 break in stride, and the South hand is now high.


With neither a heart nor club lead seeming to be in the slightest degree attractive, the question is whether to attack with a spade lead or go passive. The main strike against a spade lead is that it may solve an ace-queen guess for declarer, but then again, to defeat two clubs, we do need to find our partner with quite a good hand, and yet he never bid. I'll opt for the relative security of the diamond sequence.

LEAD WITH THE ACES

♠ Q 7 2
 K 9 6 4 2
 9 8 2
♣ A J
South West North East
1♣
1 Dbl. 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, October 19th, 2014

I opened one diamond with ♠ A-Q-3,  6-5,  Q-10-9-6-5-2, ♣ K-4. I heard my partner respond one spade, and RHO overcall two clubs. How do you rate the merits of a pass, repeating diamonds, or bidding two spades?

Calling Card, Eau Claire, Wis.

I'd hate to pass with extra shape. Bidding two spades seems right — we've told partner about our diamonds but not our spade support so far. And the diamonds are not so impressive that we need to draw attention to them. Of course, a support double to show three-card trump support would be just fine — assuming you play this method.

With only one entry to dummy, what is the best way to play a holding of three to the nine in dummy facing A-J-10-8-3-2 in hand for one loser? Does your play depend on the caliber of your opponents?

Bobby Shafto, Summit, N.J.

Finessing, then playing for the drop on the next round, loses to a singleton honor on your left. Cashing the ace loses to a small singleton on your left. It looks like even money, but in abstract the finesse is better, since that way you pick up the 4-0 trump break on your right. But if you lead the nine from dummy, you might, I suppose, elicit a twitch from a weak opponent who has both honors.

From your earlier comments, you have made it clear that you like to get into auctions as quickly as possible. Would you therefore make a takeout double of one club (or even of one diamond or one spade), holding ♠ Q-10-5,  A-K-7-5,  9-7-5, ♣ A-8-3?

Picking the Spot, Augusta, Ga.

I'd advocate doubling one club or one diamond when nonvulnerable. If vulnerable facing a passed hand, I would probably still double, though not like it as much. And I would double one spade if nonvulnerable too, or facing an unpassed partner. I think direct action much safer than passing and then balancing. And my view is shared by more and more players who prefer winning to style points.

My partner and do not agree about the significance of following with an honor on partner's ace lead; similarly, what is the meaning of the discard of an honor (or the unblock of an honor under declarer's or dummy's play of a higher card)?

Message Bearer, Little Rock, Ark.

My view is that if you drop an honor on partner's lead, it suggests either a doubleton, or a suit solid down from that card, denying a higher honor. Similarly, discarding a queen suggests the jack and 10, without the king. A play of this sort might be suit-preference, or even a wake-up call to find an unusual play, but that would surely be the exception here, not the rule.

I held ♠ Q-7-3-2,  Q-6-5,  A-Q-6-5, ♣ 10-4. I responded one spade to one club, and my partner raised to two spades. Because we were playing teams, I tried three diamonds, getting us to a poor, though makable, four-spade contract. My partner said I needed a fifth trump to make a try with these values. What do you think?

Risk and Reward, Walnut Creek, Calif.

Assuming that your partner has 12-14 points with four spades (if you are lucky), you do not rate to have enough points for game. So to make a try with these values, you need a real fit for his first suit, (imagine he had opened one diamond instead of one club) or extra shape in the form of trump length. Turn your club four into a spade, and you would be worth a try for game with a call of three diamonds.


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.