Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, July 23rd, 2017

How should I play the trump suit of four small cards in dummy facing five cards to the A-J-9-4-2 in my hand for one loser? Should my policy change if my RHO follows with the 10 as opposed to the eight on the first round?

Number Cruncher, Hamilton, Ontario

If the eight appears on your right, in abstract low to the ace guards against the singleton honors on your left, while losing to the singleton 10 to your left. So it looks best. But if your RHO follows with the 10 at his first and would ‘never’ play the 10 from honorten-eight, play the jack on the first round.

Holding ♠ K-7-5-2,  K-2,  Q-10-7-4-3, ♣ A-K, would you open one no-trump or one club? What are the rules for treating 5-4 hands as balanced?

Stumbling Stan, Detroit, Mich.

I feel strongly that you should try to avoid opening one no-trump with 5-4 pattern and a five-card major, if you can. With five of a minor and four spades, and either 15 or 17 points, I normally upvalue or down-value my hand out of a one no-trump opener and open the minor so I would happily open one diamond here. With the other patterns I always try to upgrade 17-counts out of the no-trump opener, but if my values are in the doubletons you might twist my arm into a no-trump opening bid.

Would you overcall, double or pass in third seat with ♠ A-J,  J-9-4-3-2,  Q-7-4, ♣ Q-6-4, after hearing one club to your right? If you would pass, how much more would you need to act?

All Gall, Houston, Texas

This is not a one heart overcall by any sane person’s valuation (that doesn’t mean everyone will pass of course). To overcall, you want to have a decent hand or a suit you want led. Not this hand, though make the diamond queen the heart queen with the same shape and you might yield to temptation.

You recently ran a deal where one of your opponents had shown a long diamond suit and commented that “the chances of finding either major suit breaking 3-3 seemed slim (my emphasis).” Isn’t there more than a 50 percent chance that one or both suits will break for you?

Indian Ink, Durango, Colo.

In abstract this would be so, but for the fact that on the actual hand where I was writing, your LHO had preempted to the three level in clubs and had shown at least two cards in diamonds, and possibly more. Now the chance that he had three cards in either of the two critical suits becomes far lower. But to go back to the original question: in abstract were the long suit not indicated, you would indeed expect a 3-3 break in one of two suits nearly sixty percent of the time.

In first position, with no one vulnerable, my RHO opened one club, and when I passed, the auction ground to a stop. I held ♠ 7-2,  K-Q-10-6,  A-8, ♣ A-10-6-5-4. Should I have overcalled with one heart? My partner had a 3-3-4-3 11-count and we could make three no-trump, though defeating one club by three tricks scored well enough for us.

Mona Lisa, Atlanta, Ga.

I would have acted with a one heart overcall, even if this promises five. My length in my opponents’ suit is not entirely a negative here, and if I don’t bid now I may never be able to persuade my partner that I have a decent hand and a good suit. I might overcall one heart over one diamond also, and I suppose I might double one spade – though without too much enthusiasm.


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 2017. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Saturday, July 22nd, 2017

The way in which the world is imagined determines at any particular moment what men will do.

Walter Lippman


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

*one key card and a heart void

2

In today’s deal from a matchpoint pairs event South’s three diamond call was natural and forcing, and asked North to raise spades if he could. Having found the spade fit, South was able to show his heart void in response to the key-cards ask. After hearing the response, North assumed diamonds would run, and gambled on locating a 13th. And yes, it would have been wiser today to bid the grand slam in diamonds, where 13 tricks would have been easy.

While a club lead would have worked well for the defense, at trick one there was no reason for West to work that out. South could count 12 tricks, and appreciated that East was likely to hold both the heart ace and club king; but the menaces for a squeeze did not seem well-placed.

Still, all declarer could do was run his winners and hope for the best. After ruffing the opening lead South drew trump, then played a fourth round, discarding the club two from dummy. Now came the diamonds, and when the last diamond was played, East was caught in a dilemma.

If he threw the club 10, dummy’s club ace would be cashed and a heart ruff would allow the established club queen to score. Alternatively, the heart 10 discard would permit a heart ruff to establish the king, with the club ace as the means of access.

This position is called a trump squeeze, and it is the see-saw element of such positions that makes it especially attractive, I think.


While there is nothing to be ashamed at about this hand, you could argue for a jump to three hearts to take space away from the opponents. The logic is reinforced when facing a passed hand, since you expect it to be their hand not yours. The counter-argument is that it will help the opponents guess spades and diamonds. I am sufficiently persuaded of this that I would just bid two hearts.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ 8
 A Q 10 9 8 3
 6 2
♣ K 10 9 8
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 2017. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, July 21st, 2017

If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.

Romans, New Testament


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

♣8

On this hand from the 1995 World Junior Championships the two instructive themes are firstly to try to cherish your partner, and secondly that you may be able to protect him from the consequences of his error, if you do not allow emotion to get in the way.

When West led the club eight, (third highest from three or four cards) Andrew Moss as East won his queen and had to decide what to do next.

He saw that if the defense could play three rounds of spades it would promote a trump trick for the defense. So Moss switched to the spade queen; when he followed up with the spade king, he made it easy for his partner to work out to overtake and play a third spade.

Arguably, this is no more than routine good technique. But what if (as happened at some tables) your partner, having overdone the Sunday lunch, supinely plays low on the second spade?

As East you know declarer has all the top red-suit cards, and that he cannot ruff any spades in dummy. Since you can see at least two club tricks for him, declarer must have a 4-5-2-2 shape for the play so far to make any sense. Switch back to a club now, to break up a squeeze on your partner in the black suits.

If you play back a diamond for example, declarer takes his seven red suit winners and the last trump forces your partner to concede. By breaking up a squeeze on your partner, you should earn plenty of brownie points.


In third seat this hand surely qualifies for an opening bid. There are some hands where you would bid the major, planning to pass the response, but here since neither a one club nor one heart opener stop the opponents from bidding spades, I would open my best suit and thus bid one club. I’d plan to rebid one no-trump if my partner responds one spade – this is not a hand to be ashamed of.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ 8 5
 K 10 9 3
 K 7 3
♣ A J 10 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 2017. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, July 20th, 2017

Life is not a problem to be solved, but a reality to be experienced.

Soren Kierkegaard


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

3

One of the arts in defense is to know when to be an optimist. If you need partner to have a specific card to beat a hand, then assume he has it and defend accordingly.

Here, when West led the heart three against three no-trump, East won his king and returned the heart 10 to dummy’s ace. South continued with a low club from dummy. East let declarer win in hand and South now switched horses by leading a diamond to the king and ace. At this point, the defense could do nothing to defeat South’s game.

However, at trick one East should have worked harder on his addition and subtraction. Since he and dummy hold 24 HCP between them, and South has admitted to at least 15 HCP, that leaves West with at most one point. To have any chance to set the game East must assume this is the heart jack.

Since East can see his partner has no more than five hearts, and that he needs to maintain communication with partner within the heart suit, East must follow with the 10, breaking a cardinal rule and finessing against partner.

Unless declarer has superhuman powers he will win his queen, and go after a minor. East should rush up with his ace and complete the unblock in hearts by returning his king to dummy’s ace. East will take his remaining ace as soon as he can, and revert to hearts to set the game.

And if declarer ducks his heart queen at trick one? Then find an easier game to play in.


Just because you have a minimum hand and only three spades does not mean you have to commit yourself to an action when you have no idea what is right (you might not feel the same way were your hearts kingqueen doubleton, for example). Pass, and let partner decide what to do next rather than making that decision for him.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ K J 10
 A 4
 K J 7 5
♣ J 10 8 2
South West North East
      1
Dbl. 4 4 ♠ 5
?      

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 2017. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Wednesday, July 19th, 2017

The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation. What is called resignation is confirmed desperation.

Henry David Thoreau


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

*forcing

♠K

Today’s deal demonstrates how to have your cake and eat it too. When playing teams you want to ensure making your contract if you can, or defeating it if humanly possible. Overtricks and undertricks are the lifeblood of the pairs game, but basically irrelevant at teams.

So let’s look at a pairs deal, where you declare four hearts on the defense of three rounds of spades, ruffed in hand. Your target is to make as many tricks as possible, while not going down if you can avoid it.

If you play hearts from the top and find the 4-1 break, there is nothing you can do to recover, against competent defense. West will ruff the third round of clubs, then exit with the heart jack, if declarer has drawn only two rounds of trump, or exit in spades if declarer drew three rounds of trump.

So what can declarer do to sidestep this outcome? You could play ace and a low heart, giving up a trump trick to settle for 10 winners. But if hearts break, you would then have sacrificed a trick for nothing.

A better line, which combines safety with excellent chances for 11 winners, is to cash one heart, then cross to dummy with a club to lead a second round of trump. When East discards, you put in the 10, and can claim the rest after West wins the jack. If East follows to the second trump, win the king, and unless West shows out, you have the rest. If West discards, try to cross to a top club to finesse in trumps.


This isn’t the right place to tell you which form of transfers to use over one no-trump. However, whatever scheme you have in place you should transfer to diamonds, since your hand is useless in no-trump and you want to keep the opponents out. Transfers do NOT promise values — as opposed to suit length.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ 9 3 2
 4
 10 9 7 6 4 2
♣ 8 7 2
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 2017. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, July 18th, 2017

Do not speak of your happiness to one less fortunate than yourself.

Plutarch


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

♠J

My wife Judy was previously married to the late Norman Kay, one of the strongest players never to win a world title. He declared this deal, from the semifinals of the 1968 Olympiad.

Norman was always a deliberate player, and when West led the spade jack, he took considerable time before committing himself. Eventually he won, tested the hearts and, when they broke 3-3, took the diamond finesse for an overtrick.

Was his line of play the best? It fails had hearts divided 4-2 with the diamond finesse wrong. As against that, playing on diamonds first might work if that suit divided evenly. But if the diamond ace is followed by a diamond to the queen, which is allowed to win, does declarer now risk a third diamond, or does he try the hearts?

Once you have identified the problem, maybe you can spot the best play for declarer. This would have been to try a low diamond towards the queen before releasing the ace. If the queen wins, you are still in control in the diamond suit and can even cope with a bad heart break by coming to hand in spades and leading a low heart to the 10. This loses only to the bare heart jack in East. And of course if the diamond queen loses to the king, there is still time to test both red suits.

So were the US lucky here? Not exactly; in the other room the Dutch declarer was in seven no-trump — which simply needed both hearts 3-3 and the diamond finesse to work.


This redouble is for take-out – your partner would sit back and let you enjoy yourself in one diamond doubled if he were happy to play there. You should expect him to have short diamonds and both majors, so you should be very happy to bid one spade — since in context you are quite suitable for play there.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ A Q 5
 10 5
 Q J 6 5 3
♣ K 10 5
South West North East
      1 ♣
1 Pass Pass Dbl.
Pass Pass Rdbl. 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 2017. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, July 17th, 2017

When the sun sets, shadows, that showed at noon But small, appear most long and terrible.

Nathaniel Lee


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

♣5

Wash your mouth out with soap and water if you even thought of opening today’s North hand one no-trump. After North opens one diamond and jumps to three diamonds, South has to decide between passing and trying for the no-trump game. He has only an eight-count, but the diamond jack may be useful in establishing the diamonds. It seems right to me to take a shot at three no-trump.

Now let’s switch to the defenders; as West, would you consider leading the club queen? It is certainly the right suit to lead, but the queen is unquestionably the wrong card. The most likely way to beat the hand is by finding partner with a top honor in clubs, but if that is so, it can’t be wrong to lead a small club. It may be necessary to unblock the suit in several scenarios, for example if partner has the doubleton ace, king or 10 of clubs.

OK, let’s switch back to declarer’s seat. When West leads a small club, which club should you play from dummy at trick one?

If the clubs are 4-3, your play will be irrelevant; but the clubs pose no danger, since there are only three tricks for the defenders to cash. If the clubs are 5-2 with East having two honors doubleton, you must play the ace to block the clubs. Try it out — and you will see that it works. You win the ace, drive out the diamond ace, and the defenders cannot run clubs whether East unblocked his club king at trick one or not.


Declarer rates to be 4-5 in the black suits, and dummy will be weak with four spades. Since a trump lead rates to cost a trick (and partner might be over-ruffing clubs anyway) the real issue is whether to lead the diamond ace and continue the suit, trying to force declarer, or lead a heart. I vote for the latter.

LEAD WITH THE ACES

♠ K 5
 Q 3 2
 A 10 8 7
♣ J 8 7 4
South West North East
      1 ♣
Pass Pass Dbl. Rdbl.
1 Pass Pass 1 ♠
1 NT 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 2017. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, July 16th, 2017

In a recent pairs game my partner held a very powerful hand, but with limited high cards: ♠ KQ-J-10-8,  A-K-Q-10-7-3,  9-7, ♣ —. She opened two clubs and I drove to slam when we found a heart fit. Slam duly came home, but I wasn’t comfortable with that choice of actions; do you agree her choice?

Dick Deadeye, Winston-Salem, N.C.

I unequivocally agree with you that this hand doesn’t qualify for a two club opener. I would open one heart and reverse into spades, then rebid spades to show 6-5 pattern. There is exactly zero chance of a one heart opener being passed out if you open it, and what is more, you don’t lie about your assets, quick tricks, and indeed everything else.

Holding ♠ 7,  A-Q-J-7-2,  K-9-8-32, ♣ J 4 would you be happy opening one heart in first chair rather than passing? If you do bid, you hear a weak jump overcall of two spades on your left, passed back to you. What now?

Balancing Act, St. Louis, Mo.

I would of course open one heart, and, though I admit that a misjudgment here might be very expensive, I think you have to put your neck on the block and bid again. A call of three diamonds seems to be too committal, so you might double for take-out. Unless your RHO’s tempo has betrayed that he holds a strong hand, your partner figures to have values — and thus is most likely to hold a spade stack. The reason he passed was that a double of two spades would have been negative.

I was recently watching an expert game on line. Declarer opened one spade with a decent hand and a club void, and the responding hand had an opener with four spades and a club suit of his own. How good would responder’s club suit have to be before he would introduce his clubs in advance of raising spades, as opposed to making a Jacoby two no-trump response?

Wicker Man, Milford, Pa.

Two no-trump is the logical response here with spade support, and you would only bid clubs first if you had a source of tricks that you need to make partner aware of. With a club suit such as A-K-4-3-2 I would bid two clubs first, since I can make slam facing a very minimum balanced hand that fits clubs and lets partner discard his slow red-suit losers.

I’ve heard the term “restricted choice” used for declarer when his trump suit is missing both the queen and jack. If one opponent plays one of the honor cards the first time trumps are led, how should declarer plan the subsequent play in the suit? Do you play for the drop or finesse?

Razor’s Edge, Cedar Rapid, Iowa

Imagine, for example, that you hold five cards to the ace in hand, and four to the king-10 in dummy. When the ace drops an honor to your right, you can finesse on the next round, or you can play for the drop. While a doubleton Q-J is (in abstract) more likely than a singleton queen, a defender holding Q-J has a choice of cards at his first turn, but no choice when he began with the bare queen. In summary, a defender is almost twice as likely to have begun with a singleton honor than with Q-J. The simpler hypothesis is nearly always right.

I would like to learn to play Contract Bridge but know nothing about it, though I have played some card games. Can you suggest a way to get started?

Newbie, Lexington, Ky.

A simple way: try contacting the ACBL and ask if there are any beginner classes in your neighborhood – at 901 332 5586. But for clubs in Kentucky you can try: http://www.lexingtonbridgeclub. com/results_frame_page.htm


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 2017. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Saturday, July 15th, 2017

With the help of a surgeon, he might yet recover, and prove an ass.

William Shakespeare


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

*heart raise

♠Q

In today’s deal South could not bear to conceal his five-card major at his first turn. West’s cuebid of two hearts showed 5-5 in spades and a minor, and now South tried to make up for lost time by rebidding three no-trump at his next turn. North read him as having a far stronger hand than this and leapt to six hearts, a contract that would have been easy had South held a doubleton in diamonds rather than spades. As it was, though, slam was very tricky to play after a spade lead, since the diamond king was surely going to be offside. Can you spot declarer’s best chance?

Declarer should win the spade lead and draw only two rounds of trump with the ace and queen. Then he must rely on four rounds of clubs standing up – almost a given, since the two-suited overcall means West can hardly hold more than two clubs. After pitching a spade on the fourth club, South can ruff a spade to hand, draw the last trump with the heart king, and reduce to a four-card ending where he has three diamonds and a trump in each hand.

Now he can lead the diamond nine from dummy, planning to let it run to West to endplay that player. If East holds one of the jack or 10 of diamonds, he will be at liberty to cover the nine, but South can play the queen. Though West can win the king, he must next lead back a diamond, and dummy’s eight will win the trick.


I’m sure many of my readers are saying ‘I bid one no-trump; what is the problem?’ That is the right answer, but bear in mind that in balancing seat the range for this call is not 15-17. The range is 11-15 (give or take a point or two – slightly less over a minor-suit opening). You can’t afford to sell out cheaply in these positions, which in turn means that you need to double and bid no-trump with 16-18 HCP.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ 7 3
 K 7 5 2
 A 9 8
♣ A K J 3
South West North East
  1 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 2017. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, July 14th, 2017

Canada is the essence of not being. Not English, not American, it is the mathematic of not being. And a subtle flavour — we’re more like celery as a flavour.

Mike Myers


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

A

Ben Zeidenberg is a Canadian who represented his country as a junior. Today’s deal came up in a world junior qualifying event, and it is the sort of example where it is easy to play too fast, and regret your haste later. At the table Ben had not been tipped off that this was a challenging deal, but he still found the right play when it really counted.

The contract of four spades had been reached after some optimistic bidding from Zeidenberg’s partner – but after all, what is new when you are a junior?

In four spades Ben received the lead of the heart ace, and West then accurately switched to a diamond. Dummy’s 10 won the trick, and Zeidenberg ran the spade 10 to the ace.

West gave his partner a diamond ruff, and on this trick Ben carefully unblocked the diamond king, a necessary move to set the stage for the marked finesse in diamonds. Now a second heart came back, won in dummy. Ben than ran all the trump, finishing in hand. As you can see, the thoughtful unblock in diamonds now allowed him to take the diamond finesse. He could therefore reach a two-card ending in which dummy had the eight of hearts and the club queen, while declarer had two clubs in hand. East, who had sole guard of both clubs and hearts, was forced to keep two hearts and thus come down to the singleton king of clubs, so declarer scored his club 10 at trick 13.


The jump to four clubs shows game-going values (approximately an opening bid) with real spade support and a singleton or possibly a void in clubs. You have a minimum in high cards and are not quite worth a Blackwood enquiry, since even facing two aces you cannot count 12 tricks. I’d cuebid four diamonds and hope partner can take control.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ K Q J 5 3
 5
 K 7 3
♣ A 10 8 4
South West North East
1 ♠ 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 2017. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.