Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Wednesday, July 8th, 2015

Suspicion is the companion of mean souls, and the bane of good society.

Tomas Paine


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

♠K

Both declarers on this deal from a head-to-head match play were awake enough to put the opening leader under maximum pressure. One of them brought home his contract, one of the defenders looked a little deeper and saw through the ruse.

At both tables South opened one club, West overcalled one spade, and both Norths raised clubs. One made a limit raise to three clubs, one cuebid to show a limit raise or better. Both Souths tried the no-trump game, and when West led the spade king to the two and four, South contributed the jack.

Can you see the logic here? If the club finesse is working, the deal is all about overtricks. But if the finesse is wrong, then winning the first trick with the ace may leave the defenders able to cash out spades; while if South ducks at trick one, by playing the seven, then a heart switch may pose a new and equally dangerous threat.

When declarer dropped the jack on the first trick, it looked to West as though South had started with the doubleton spade acejack, and one West was indeed tempted to continue the suit at trick two. But now after winning the second spade, declarer could take the club finesse in complete safety.

The other West thought about his partner’s spot-card and asked himself why, if South held the doubleton ace-jack, East had played the four from a holding of 7-4-3. Coming to the right conclusion, he switched to the heart king to defeat the contract.


If you play a two notrump call as natural here, it wouldn’t be totally wrong to make that bid. But in my view this hand represents a raise to three notrump, not an invitation. Yes it is technically only an eight-count, but your intermediates in your long suit and the likely side-entry mean that game rates to have excellent play, so long as the opponents cannot run a side-suit.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ 8 6 2
 10 5 4
 K 5
♣ A J 10 7 3
South West North East
    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 2015. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, July 7th, 2015

If you were happy every day of your life you wouldn’t be a human being, you’d be a game show host.

Gabriel Heatter


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

J

Today’s instructive deal comes from the 2010 match between the Houses of Lords and Commons in England took place just 10 weeks after the 2009 event. With an election looming and several MPs retiring it seemed a good idea to stage it early. This year’s event ended in a comfortable victory for the House of Lords.

Consider the deal first of all as a declarer-play problem: how would you play on the lead of the diamond jack lead? I wish I could report on the brilliance of the politicians’ play but they all just played it the way one would expect a regular club player to tackle the hand. The diamond jack was covered by the king and ace, the switch to the spade jack went to the queen and king, and a spade continuation was won by declarer. In due course declarer drew trump and lost another spade and a club for down one.

As is so often the case, declarer’s (admittedly pardonable) error came at trick one. By covering the diamond jack, he allowed the defense to succeed. Suppose instead that South breaks all the rules and plays low from dummy at trick one. If East wins his ace anyway, there are now two spade discards available, so declarer will lose just one trick in each side-suit. When East plays low on the first diamond, West cannot lead spades himself. Say he continues with another diamond. Declarer ruffs, draw trump and plays a club, establishing a winner on which to discard one of dummy’s spades.


This is not the right hand on which to pass for penalties, so the real choice seems to be whether to bid two clubs or whether to respond one no-trump — and yes I suppose a choice of one spade is not entirely from out of left field… or maybe it is? Be that as it may, I’ll opt for bidding my long suit with a call of two clubs; I’d need a fifth club to jump to three clubs here.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ J 10 9
 4
 A 7 6 4 2
♣ A 9 6 3
South West North East
  1 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 2015. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, July 6th, 2015

No great improvements in the lot of mankind are possible, until a great change takes place in the fundamental constitution of their modes of thought.

John Stuart Mill


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

Q

It is always irritating (or worse) to go down in a voluntarily bid contract of five of a major. How would you apportion the blame on this outing? South was playing a simple style where his jump to three spades did no more than set up a game force while showing extras. Thereafter everybody cuebid until North applied the brakes, and the auction came to a grinding halt.

When West was dealt a heart sequence to lead, South tempted fate on the sight of dummy by commenting that he had been in worse slams. After winning the lead in hand, he cashed the spade queen and ace to discover the bad break. A third top trump was followed by a losing club finesse, and East thoughtfully returned a diamond to the seven, king and ace. Attempting to obtain a discard for his losing diamond, South played on clubs, but West ruffed the third round and the defenders had a diamond winner to cash for the setting trick.

How should South have dealt with the hand? He should win the lead in hand and take one top club. Then after the three top spades have left the defenders with a master trump, he would have been far better advised to play off the club king and a third club.

Unless West has started with only a singleton club, dummy’s eight is established and South’s losing diamond goes away, while West is ruffing with his sure trump trick. And if West could ruff in prematurely, the club loser would go away.


I’m torn between leading a low spade and starting with the heart king. My choice depends partly on my knowledge if any of the style of my partner and my RHO. The sounder my partner is (or the friskier my RHO might be) the more attractive a heart becomes. Leading a heart has the big plus that it keeps my partner happy — so I’ll go along with that, despite my obvious misgivings.

LEAD WITH THE ACES

♠ Q 10 5 4
 K 5
 10 7 3
♣ Q 8 6 2
South West North East
  1 1 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 2015. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, July 5th, 2015

I am relatively inexperienced, and tend only to play rubber bridge, but I am starting to play duplicate. In your column I saw a response of two diamonds to one no-trump to show hearts. Is this part of Standard American?

Innovator, Boise, Idaho

The two-diamond response is a Jacoby transfer, showing hearts. Opener is obligated to complete the transfer, even with only a doubleton. My readers could reasonably ask me why this was obvious. The simple answer is that most people learning bridge are now being taught transfers, and most intermediate players know of transfers even if they do not play them. Where I have space I try to put in the apprpriate footnote.

You recently ran a deal where an expert threw his opponent in to cash some winners — thereby squeezing his own partner. Do you think that non-experts should always assume that experts play relatively accurately and that lesser mortals would do well to avoid any “Greek gifts”?

Trojan Horse, Bremerton, Wash.

Experts are more than fallible too. They can forget to draw trump or simply mis-estimate the chances of an adverse ruff. By contrast if they deliberately throw you in to cash your winners, you can assume that they have probably worked out the consequences. That does not mean it is always wrong to take the winners, of course. But you would certainly be entitled to check the gift horse’s teeth.

Holding: ♠ K-Q-6-4, Q-J, 10-6-3-2, ♣ A-10-3 how do you feel about the merits of opening in fourth seat – and what call would you select? Would you bid your minor or bid the major to shut out the hearts?

Red Flags, Charleston, S.C.

I would not pass, but much depends on your partnership style. I think the ‘right’ opening bid at Pairs is one spade, cutting out the opponents’ hearts and trying to steal the board. But if your partner is never going to play you for a four-card major, I might consider either opening one club for the lead instead of one diamond. Switch the majors and pass is more appealing, since the opponents appear to have the spades.

I’m trying to improve my defense, and move from an entirely attitude-based system of signaling. How often does the expert player consider suit preference in his carding on defense?

Lost Horizon, Grenada, Miss.

Not every deal is played out, because of claims and concessions. On those that go the distance, an issue of suit-preference (SP) is relevant at least half the time, though a trick may not necessarily be at stake, of course. SP tends to arise on the later round of a suit, or in the discards. Since attitude signals come up on every deal, being able to signal attitude correctly is the priority. Knowing when to signal count or SP is far more challenging – but truly worth the effort.

Today I am going to play bridge for the first time in over 40 years. I used to enjoy the game tremendously during my service years. But after I got out, I never located a bridge club, and eventually gave up looking. I tried teaching my friends, but most didn’t have any interest. What kind of advice would you have for someone like me?

Broadway Danny Rose, The Bronx, N.Y.

By the time you read this you will already have played, but I’ll pass on my thoughts anyway. Bidding has changed a lot. It is much more about having trump fit than having high cards. Get in fast while you can! The play of the cards won’t have changed at all. So maybe take a quick look at one of the books on modern bridge – Larry Cohen might be a good place to start. I’ll suggest a few other authors if you get back to me, and we can talk some more.


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 2015.
If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact
reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Saturday, July 4th, 2015

The artist never entirely knows. We guess. We may be wrong, but we take leap after leap in the dark.

Agnes De Mille


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

*Cuebid agreeing spades

♣A

This was my favorite deal from the Birmingham Nationals, when New York expert Mel Colchamiro cornered me on my way to the elevator and gave me a beautiful hand. Beware; it’s far harder than it looks, even though it is far from complicated.

Without going into too many details as to the auction — we would not want to embarrass any guilty parties — consider the play in six spades. Best defense is obviously to lead two rounds of clubs, but your generous opponents play a top club and shift to diamonds. Obviously they believe you might bid a slam off two aces; it is up to you to punish them for such an insult.

The natural thing to do is to cash the spade ace and the heart king. Then you lead the spade 10 from hand. If West discards, you need the heart queen to fall. If West follows, you must guess immediately whether trumps are splitting or whether hearts behave. That looks pretty good, but it is far from best.

The winning line is to overtake the heart king with the ace at trick three and ruff a heart high. If that suit splits or if the heart queen is bare, you have no problem in drawing trump, ending in dummy. If hearts do not behave, you need 2-2 spades — it’s as simple as that. On this occasion hearts split and spades did not — so if you play spades first, you had better guess very well!


You could tempt me into perpetrating an unusual no-trump if non-vulnerable, because my secondary honors in both minors encourage action. Vulnerable, I would pass, intending to stay silent unless the auction times out to let me back in conveniently. I like to keep my two-suited bids up to strength, and this one doesn’t quite qualify for immediate action.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ 6
 Q 10
 K J 9 5 3
♣ K J 6 5 3
South West North East
  Pass 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 2015. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, July 3rd, 2015

Out of the crooked timber of humanity no
Straight thing can ever be made.

Immanuel Kant


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

K

Today’s deal offers a choice of lines in six hearts. After a top diamond lead, it is easy to count to 11 tricks, but where does the possible spade loser go? One possibility is to draw two rounds of trump and then play on spades. This works if spades are 3-3 or the hand with two hearts has two or fewer spades. This line of play comes in at about a two-thirds chance.

A better line is for declarer to win the diamond lead and play back a diamond. West wins and plays a trump, won in hand. Now comes a club to the ace, a diamond ruff high, a club to the king, and a club ruff high. Now you play two rounds of trumps. If they break, ruff a club with your last trump, cross to the spade queen, and draw the last trump, pitching a spade from your hand. You can take the last two tricks with the ace and king of spades.

However, at trick eight when you draw a second round of trumps, if you find them to be 4-1 all is not lost. You can still recover when trumps do not break, but one defender has four trumps and three or more spades. In the five-card ending you can cash your three spade winners and crossruff the last two tricks. This line comes in at close to an 80 percent chance.

As East may sympathetically point out to his partner, the lead of any suit but diamonds would defeat the slam!


Despite the quality of your diamonds, you do not wish to emphasize them again. Your partner sounds like he is angling for game, and with your spade stopper and minimum you can get your hand off your chest in one go with a call of two no-trump. Let partner take it from there.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ J 9 7 6
 7 4
 K Q J 9
♣ 10 4 3
South West North East
    1 1 ♠
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 2015. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, July 2nd, 2015

Awaiting the sensation of a short, sharp shock,
From a cheap and chippy chopper on a big black block.

W. S. Gilbert


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

*10-12

**Invitational, five-plus spades

5

In today’s deal from the finals of the US trials Paul Soloway declared three no-trump at one of the critical tables. A diamond was led, and when East won the club ace he returned a diamond, letting through 10 tricks.

In the other room (on the auction shown) David Berkowitz followed an invitational sequence facing a mini no-trump, and Larry Cohen drove to game. He had eight quick tricks on a diamond lead, but the clubs had to produce a ninth. He correctly won the opening lead and attacked clubs at once. Even if the club ace was on his right there was always the hope that the defense would not know what to do next. When Eric Rodwell took the club ace, all he knew was that his partner had a singleton club, so he was able to reconstruct that declarer had the club king-jack and diamond queen.

Since the likelihood was that he had a second top diamond, there was no room for declarer to have the heart ace, so his shifting to the heart jack gave the defense two chances. At the table, Cohen ducked the jack, so it was easy for East to continue hearts and cash out the suit. But had the trick gone to the heart queen and ace, Jeff Meckstroth would have returned a high heart from a remaining holding of three small, and a low heart from a remaining holding of 10xx.

If a high heart had come back, Rodwell would have reverted to diamonds and hoped for better luck there.


I can offer two approaches here, depending on whether you play two over one as game forcing or not. If you do, this hand is a minimum (though some would say sub-minimum) for a jump to three spades, which simply shows a semi-solid or better spade suit. I’d take that action because of the club fit. If two clubs is not forcing to game, simply rebid two spades.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ A K Q J 4 2
 7 6 3
 7
♣ Q 4 3
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 2015. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Wednesday, July 1st, 2015

‘Which road do I take?’ Alice asked. ‘Where do you want to go?’ responded the Cheshire Cat. ‘I don’t know,’ Alice answered. ‘Then,’ said the Cat, ‘it doesn’t matter.’

Lewis Carroll


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

♣K

In today’s deal, after his partner shows a balanced 12-14 at his second turn, South’s two club rebid is known as “New Minor Forcing”. It is the equivalent of delayed Stayman, showing at least invitational values, and asks opener to introduce an unbid major or to show three-card support for responder. On the sequence shown, North reveals three-card spade support, making it easy for South to select the spade game.

West leads the club king against four spades. Rightly or wrongly, you elect to duck the trick and win the club queen continuation. Meanwhile, East plays high-low, consistent with jack-third of clubs or a doubleton. What should you do next, after cashing the heart ace?

If you take the diamond finesse and it loses, you may well find the defenders cashing a club, after which you will need the spade finesse to succeed. Alternatively, you can rise with the diamond ace, and take two discards on the heart winners. If so, which discards should you make from your hand?

If you discard your club losers, then take the spade finesse, or even play the spade ace and another spade, you might lose out to a diamond ruff. A far safer line is to pitch your diamonds on the top hearts.

After disposing of your diamonds, simply play a third club, and ruff the fourth club with dummy’s spade nine. You give up a trick to the spade king, directly or indirectly, but have the rest.


In this column I frequently offer the sacrilegious advice that opener should be both able and willing to raise responder with just three trump. This hand is on the cusp of what is an acceptable hand for a raise. With such a balanced shape, but no stopper in either black suit, I can see both sides of the coin. I would bid one no-trump with as little as jack-third in either black-suit. Here I raise, but I’m conflicted…

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ 9 3 2
 K Q J
 A Q J 4
♣ 8 5 2
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 2015. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, June 30th, 2015

Our brightest blazes of gladness are commonly kindled by unexpected sparks.

Samuel Johnson


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

♠Q

In today’s deal the optimal contract is six clubs, but it is often hard to locate a 4-4 fit when the auction gets high in a hurry. After North-South had a quantitative auction, it proved impossible to find their minor-suit fit.

When West led the spade queen against the slam, declarer could see that his route to 12 tricks involved getting three tricks from the diamond suit, and to do so he needed to take three finesses in the suit. As this required three entries, declarer played the club ace and king at tricks two and three. Then he took the club jack and played a fourth club to dummy’s queen.

Next he led a diamond to his jack and West’s king. He won the spade return and crossed back to dummy by leading to the heart ace. This was the entry to dummy to run the diamond nine, and he could remain in dummy for the third diamond finesse. In the end, declarer took two spades, three hearts, three diamonds and four clubs.

As an aside, note the effect of West ducking the first diamond. Wouldn’t declarer now have considered crossing to dummy to repeat the diamond finesse? When West produced the king and diamonds broke 4-2 South would have had a cardiac arrest. (For the record, declarer could lead a low diamond from hand after the first finesse succeeds, planning a later finesse – but that might lose out if West had ducked from an original holding of king-third or king-fourth.)


It feels right to reject the game-try – you are at the very minimum of your one no-trump response. The only question is whether to retreat to three clubs, and I say no. Your partner’s auction is entirely consistent with a balanced 18-count, with only three clubs. (Switch your minors, and had partner opened one diamond, then reverting to three diamonds with four-card support would be far more attractive).

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ 9 5 3
 A 5 3
 9 4 2
♣ Q 5 3 2
South West North East
  Pass 1 ♣ Pass
1 NT Pass 2 NT Pass
?      

For details of Bobby Wolff’s autobiography, The Lone Wolff, contact theLoneWolff@bridgeblogging.com. If you would like to contact Bobby Wolff, please leave a comment at this blog. Reproduced with permission of United Feature Syndicate, Inc., Copyright 2015. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, June 29th, 2015

There are no second chances in life, except to feel remorse.

Carlos Ruiz Zafon


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

Q

Would you make a try on the South cards after your partner had raised your major-suit opening? And would it matter if you had overcalled one heart and been raised to two?

Curiously, although the diamond king has become a more useful asset when you hear an opening bid of one diamond to your right, I’m not sure I would try again after partner had only raised my overcall to two. The fact that he had not produced a cue-bid raise might suggest game is unlikely to be more than a long shot.

Today, however, your game-try leads to your reaching a slightly pushy four hearts, against which West leads the diamond queen to East’s ace. East returns the club king. Plan the play.

If you win the club ace and find the king to be a singleton, you can be sure West will later get in with the club jack and switch to a spade, through dummy’s king-jack. But duck the club king, and you guarantee your side 10 tricks: one diamond, five hearts and four clubs. That is the winning play today.

Incidentally, while a spade lead would have beaten your game outright, can you see how the defenders could still have prevailed, even after the normal lead of the diamond queen? East simply ducks the opening lead and lets West win the next diamond to find the killing shift. Should East find this defense? I think so. West cannot have five diamonds, or he would have raised pre-emptively at his first turn.


Today’s problem comes from “Larry Teaches Opening Leads,” a new book by Larry Cohen. He advises that even though your clubs and hearts are better than your diamonds, you should lead the unbid suit when in doubt, as you certainly are here. This is good advice; declarer might easily have only one diamond stopper.

LEAD WITH THE ACES

♠ 3
 Q 5 4 3
 J 7 6 5
♣ K 9 3 2
South West North East
    Pass 1 ♠
Pass 2 Pass 2 ♠
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 2015. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.