Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, September 16th, 2018

How many extras does an overcaller need to double for take-out, then double again? One of our opponents followed this sequence with perfect 4-4-4-1 shape, but just three aces and a queen. His partner passed with queen-jack-fourth of trump and a king, but couldn’t defeat our contract. Does the second double promise more cards than this, even if it is still for take-out?

Reopen for Business, Edmonton, Calgary

When a hand that has doubled for takeout bids again, it shows extras. The second double is still for takeout, though this one may come close to being played as optional, depending on the level of the action, say a double of a game contract. In such situations, sometimes responder passes from weakness if balanced, and hopes for the best.

I enjoy your bridge column and tend to go along with most of your views on bridge. But recently, you featured an opening bid in third seat when holding ♠ Q-J-9-2,  A-9-2,  J-6-4, ♣ K-3-2. I do not enjoy opening one club with this hand; I’d rather open one spade and plan to pass any non-forcing response. Where do you stand here?

Trumpet Voluntary, Palm Springs, Calif.

I agree with you that a one-club opening bid does not accomplish much. Passing is perfectly reasonable, and when I do open a minor in third seat, I tend to have either a good suit or a reasonable hand. This hand does not qualify as either. A one-spade opener is more pre-emptive and lead-directing, so that would be my choice.

You recently discussed the Principle of Restricted Choice. Please explain how the concept works and when it applies.

Monkey Wrench, Newport News, Va.

Occam’s Razor basically says when you have to weigh up two outcomes, go for the simplest. So, when you have to compare the chance that a player has a doubleton consisting of two equal cards (generally the queen-jack) or that they started with a bare honor, the latter is more likely. The doubleton is more likely than each individual singleton, but the chance that the queen will appear from the doubleton holding is actually only half that, because half the time the player would contribute the jack from queen-jack. See details of “The Monty Hall problem” online.

What should persuade responder to upgrade a constructive raise of a major to a limit raise? For example, if you hold ♠ Q-9-2,  K-7-3-2,  J-6-4, ♣ A-3-2 and hear your partner open a major, would you make a simple raise or a limit raise of one heart or one spade?

Shark Tank, Key West, Fla.

You have a 10-count, but it is too balanced to make a limit raise of one spade. Make the club ace the diamond ace, and you might consider the limit raise; but since partner typically has a balanced 12-14, do you really need to be in game facing that? I’d simply raise to two spades. By contrast, the fourth trump would persuade me to make a reluctant limit raise of hearts, even if I’m not convinced the hand is really worth it.

You recently featured a deal where someone in second seat overcalled one heart over one diamond with a six-count, when holding ♠ 6-3,  Q-J-10-8-4,  Q-J-9-2, ♣ 6-3. I have seen this sort of action several times, both at the table and in your column, and I wonder where you stand on it.

Hot Drinks, Indio, Calif.

To clarify my position; I was just reporting the facts. This hand is not exactly worth an overcall. If I had to put a point-count limit on one-level overcalls, it would be a decent suit in a hand of 8-9 points. In the example hand, I would happily overcall if one of the queens were an ace.


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 2018. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Saturday, September 15th, 2018

Three o’clock is always too late or too early for what you want to do.

Jean-Paul Sartre


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

*Game-forcing, might be short

10

In reporting on this deal in the Daily Bulletin from the Yeh Bros Cup in 2017, the editors spoke just a little too soon when they indicated that declarer might need second sight to bring home his game.

As Geir Helgemo showed, basic numeracy might suffice in the right circumstances. A total of 10 declarers brought home four spades — though twice it was declared from the North seat, when the club tenace was protected and declarer had significant extra chances.

The play in four hearts in the match between Sweden and Monaco saw the Monaco West lead a diamond rather than a club. The Swedish declarer missed his chance when, after winning cheaply in hand, he knocked out the heart ace. He won the next diamond, then completed drawing trumps and led out the spade king. At this point, he realized the avoidance play of a low spade to the nine would fail if East won and played a third diamond, leaving the spades blocked. So, he played the spade ace and a third spade. West could win and play a club through to doom the contract.

In the other room, the defenders did lead clubs. East cashed his ace and led a low club. After the defenders played on trump, declarer found East, a passed hand, with two aces and, inferentially, the club jack (or West would have led the club queen to trick one). West was likely to hold the spade queen, or East might have opened. So Helgemo advanced the spade jack from his hand, and could now play the spade suit for no loser.


Your cue-bid sets up a force until a suit has been agreed. You could now invite game by bidding only three hearts, but isn’t this hand a force to game? Even though your diamond honors may be worthless, game is surely going to be no worse than the spade finesse. I would bid four hearts, but make the spade two a club, and I bid only three hearts.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ K J 7 4 2
 K Q 6 3
 Q J
♣ 10 3
South West North East
  1 Dbl. Pass
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 2018. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, September 14th, 2018

The place where optimism flourishes most is the lunatic asylum.

Havelock Ellis


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

*Spade raise

5

The finals of the Yeh Bros teams event (with a prize of $100,000 going to the winners) was between two North American teams, ones that included Canadians, Poles and Dutchmen. Eric Kokish’s team led all the way and won fairly comfortably, but here is a swing created almost out of nowhere for the team captained by Jacek Pszczola, known to the world as Pepsi for fairly obvious reasons.

Both tables played three spades on a low diamond lead. Both declarers put in the eight, and both Easts (Michal Nowosadzki and Fred Gitelman) false-carded with the queen! Nicely done by both Easts. In each case, declarer won the ace, but maybe the declarer for the Kokish team took his eye off the ball, knowing he was comfortably placed.

He played a top trump, and Jacek Kalita, who had led the diamond seven (second from three), won the spade ace to play a second diamond, the five. Declarer put in dummy’s 10, and Nowosadzki won to play a trump, then got in with the club king to cash out his side’s heart tricks for down one.

For the Pepsi team, Eric Greco did not relax at trick two. He played the heart queen out of his hand, and when a club came through, he finessed the queen. Back came a trump to the king and ace, and a diamond switch. He went up with the king to play a second heart and now could not be stopped from ruffing a heart in dummy for his ninth trick.

That was five well-earned IMPs for Pepsi’s team.


I’d be inclined to bid two diamonds now, mainly to try to keep the auction open in case partner has a good hand or can produce delayed heart support. I’d guess the 5-2 heart fit might be our most likely game, but if partner has a singleton heart, two diamonds feels like the safest part-score.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ A
 A J 10 8 3
 9 7 5
♣ J 9 5 2
South West North East
  1 ♣ 1 Pass
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 2018. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, September 13th, 2018

Cleverness is not wisdom. And not to think mortal thoughts is to see few days.

Euripides


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

♣K

The main teams event at last year’s Yeh Bros Cup was won by Eric Kokish’s team. In an early knockout match, this board generated a big swing for them. With two deals to go, they had just taken the lead in the match, and their teammates had defeated six spades here. But as will become apparent, even four spades was high enough.

Roy Welland led a top club against four spades. South won and cashed the spade ace, then carefully did not play the spade king next — he needed the reentry to dummy, and if he made that play, East would two diamonds, win the third and play back a trump, cutting declarer off from the diamonds.

But when declarer led a trump to the queen at trick three, that should also have been fatal; maybe he should have followed Andrew Robson’s incisive bridge tip: “If they pre-empt and lead their suit, play them for a singleton trump.” In fact, it is best to play top diamonds after one trump. Even if spades are 3-2 and West gets a ruff, you still have 10 tricks, in the form of three diamonds, two aces and five trumps.

When South went after diamonds at trick four, East should have set the game by shifting to hearts. After all, if partner didn’t have a top heart, could the game ever be set? When East actually returned a club, declarer had the tempo to pitch two hearts on the diamonds, and was back to 10 tricks.


You have a little too much to pass here. It feels as if a double should be card-showing, and you will be happy to play in whatever strain your partner chooses (or to defend if your partner has a balanced hand with three clubs). There is no need to rebid the spades; partner knows you have at least four of them.

BID WITH THE ACES

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

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 2018. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Wednesday, September 12th, 2018

What is merit? The opinion one man entertains of another.

Lord Palmerston


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

2

The Yeh Bros tournament consists of generously sponsored teams and pairs events. There are consolation events in each category, and today’s deal sees a coup by the two pairs who finished third in the main pairs, Fu Zhong and Ji Lie, and third in the consolation pairs, Paul Hackett and Tom Hanlon. Both Hanlon and Fu were faced with the same declarer play problem; see if you can match wits with them.

Declaring four spades as South, you receive a friendly heart lead (the two, suggesting three or five cards) which goes to the king and your ace. Can you see anything better than hoping either diamonds or trumps will behave?

Both declarers passed a club honor around to East, who won the queen and returned a heart. The declarers won and played the club jack, covered by West. They cashed two top trumps and found the bad news, then ruffed a club to hand, hoping to see the nine appear.

Finally, each took the heart ruff. When West produced the jack and East followed suit, it was crunch time. The opening leader appeared to have jack-third or jack-fifth of hearts and three spades, and three or four clubs, the nine not having appeared. Should you finesse diamonds, or is there anything better?

Both declarers backed their judgment by ruffing a club to hand as West followed with the nine, then exiting in trumps. When West won his queen and had nothing but diamonds left to lead, they were home, no matter who had the diamond ace.


Having found a heart fit, are you going to play in two hearts, drive to game or invite game? Of the three positions, the invitation seems like the middle-of-the-road action. It looks logical because one of your minor-suit queens will surely be wasted. Partner will be short in one suit or the other. Give me an ace in a minor instead of the queens, and I’d bid game.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ 10
 K 8 7 6 3
 Q 10 4 2
♣ Q 6 2
South West North East
    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 2018. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, September 11th, 2018

Work consists of whatever a body is obliged to do. … Play consists of whatever a body is not obliged to do.

Mark Twain


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

*Weak, both majors

2

Today’s deal comes from last July’s consolation teams event at the Yeh Bros tournament in Tokyo. Chen Yeh sponsors the tournament, and it is great news for bridge that this is back to being an annual event, so that spectators can watch the world’s best bridge players competing for the largest cash prizes in the game, both online and in person.

As the daily bulletin sardonically remarked, it can be hard to console a team that is playing the secondary Swiss with a metaphorical big fat ‘L’ branded on its forehead. But David Beauchamp of Australia cheered his team up when he found a successful way home when playing game in one of the opponents’ suits.

The defense against four hearts doubled would have generated only 300, so it was right for him to bid on; but to what contract? Note that while four no-trump can be made, five clubs might be set on the spade ruff.

Fu Zhong, as West, led a heart against four spades, ducked the first trump and won the next to return a heart. Beauchamp now knew not to lead a trump again, since the suit was marked as 4-2. He discarded a club on the heart ace, won the diamond king and led a club to the ace, a diamond to the queen and a diamond toward dummy. When East discarded, West was marked with a 4-4-4-1 shape, so declarer could confidently run the club jack, losing just three trump tricks in all. Had both defenders followed to the third diamond, declarer would probably have played West to hold a 4-4-3-2 shape.


You have enough to issue a game invitation, and a simple raise of diamonds ignores other possible strains. (The hand could play better in spades, clubs or no-trump.) Cue-bid two hearts to show a good hand and await partner’s rebid to help you decide whether to whether to play game or partscore.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ 10 9 6 3
 J
 K Q 7
♣ K 8 7 5 4
South West North East
  1 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 2018. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, September 10th, 2018

The studies preliminary to the construction of a great theory should be at least as deliberate and thorough as those that are preliminary to the building of a dwelling-house.

Charles Sanders Pierce


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

8

All the boards this week come from the 2017 Yeh Bros Cup, which is surely the strongest invitational teams event in the world.

The tournament is sponsored by Chen Yeh, who has set up an event that attracts the best teams in the world with generous sponsorship and excellent organization.

Today’s deal comes from a match where neither North-South pair could reach the ideal contract. It was up to the defenders to make them pay. If you want to put yourself in the hot seat, look only at the North and East cards.

The eventual winners of the teams event, Eric Kokish and Fred Gitelman, could not get to three no-trump after a strong club sequence where West had bid diamonds, and neither player could identify the half stopper in diamonds opposite. The other room failed to do so on a natural auction.

Both Wests astutely led diamonds. Both Easts won with their aces and needed to put West in at once to allow him to cash the second diamond winner. In the match we are focusing on, one defender switched to a heart, while the successful defender, Huub Bertens played a spade, declarer’s suit.

The spade shift is right both in theory and practice, I believe. Yes, declarer could hold five solid spades and a singleton heart — but then the losers don’t go away from dummy, do they? It is the discard of diamonds from hand that East has to worry about; if declarer has the heart ace, that is a real possibility.


I cannot see any reason not to lead the unbid suit. In situations like this, I’m torn between leading a high card to deny an honor and a low one so that my partner can work out the count. I’d choose the two here, thinking that my partner may be able to see most of the high honors in his own hand and dummy.

LEAD WITH THE ACES

♠ J 7 4 2
 K 3
 6 5 2
♣ K 10 9 4
South West North East
  1 ♣ Pass 1
Pass 1 ♠ 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 2018. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, September 9th, 2018

In third seat I held ♠ 9-7-4,  J-6-2,  Q-8-3-2, ♣ A-J-9. I heard one club from my partner and a double on my right. Would you respond one diamond, one no-trump or something else (like passing and backing in or even raising clubs)?

Lincoln Green, Willoughby, Ohio

My choice is to bid one no-trump, suggesting a balanced 7-10 — you should pass here with less than a good 7 high-card points. The logic is that there is little reason to bid with sub-minimum misfits. I prefer the one-no-trump response to a one-diamond call because it makes it harder for the opponents to come in, and you also let partner know your values and possible club fit if he wants to compete further.

Please explain to me what should happen if my RHO makes an insufficient bid and I then make a call without seeing that it was insufficient. Does the auction get rewound to the point where the insufficient call was made, and what happens next?

Misty Chances, Fayetteville, Ark.

At this point, you have no rights. Once the insufficient bid is condoned by a bid, double or pass, the auction continues as if the insufficient bid were legal. There are no penalties to the opponents.

I held ♠ A-8-7-3,  J-4,  Q-J-7-3-2, ♣ 10-3 and responded one spade to one club. My partner then showed reversing values with a call of two diamonds. What would you do now?

Mad Monk, Taos, N.M.

A raise to three diamonds should be forcing (as should a call of three clubs, incidentally). However, if you play that way, your partnership should have the agreement that either two no-trump or two hearts in this sequence (using the cheaper of fourth suit and two no-trump as a negative) lets you out short of game. This is an application of the Lebensohl convention.

You recently showed a hand where the opening bid of one diamond was made with ♠ K-J,  K-9-2,  A-10-7-4-3, ♣ 8-7-3. What are the merits and drawbacks of that action? Would you do that yourself?

Beverly’s Sister, Fayetteville, N.C.

In general, 5-3-3-2 11-counts are not upgraded to an opening bid unless you have extra shape or great intermediates. You might open, for example, a 4-2-5-2 11-count, but you would open our example hand for tactical reasons only, not because it is “worth” an opening bid when playing standard methods. Again, though, a six-card suit is worth at least an extra point.

How high should you go in support of spades with ♠ A-7-6-3,  K-Q-4-3-2,  J-4-3, ♣ 8 when you respond one heart to one club and hear your partner rebid one spade? I can imagine raising to two, three or even four spades.

On my Uppers, Vancouver, Wash.

You could not criticize a call of three spades, which is really the value bid. However, depending on the form of scoring, one could make a case for a bid of four spades, since your partner’s club holding will be critical if he has a minimum hand. He might make game if he has no club wastage, or be down in top tricks in three spades.


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 2018. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Saturday, September 8th, 2018

Drop the question of what tomorrow may bring, and count as profit every day that Fate allows you.

Horace


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

♠3

Today’s deal sees a very neat defense against a three-no-trump contract from a pairs event at the end of the most recent NEC tournament in Yokohama last year.

Dawei Chen, playing with Takahiko Hirata, found the natural lead of a low spade to his partner’s king and declarer’s ace. South led a diamond toward the ace, and Chen played the jack. Declarer took the ace and led a diamond back to the nine and Chen’s 10 (probably an error in theory as well as in practice, since your best chance of playing diamonds for one loser is the actual layout). That gave the defenders a slim chance of success, and Chen was quick to take advantage of it.

He sensibly inferred that for declarer to be playing on diamonds rather than clubs, he rated to have a singleton club. So he shifted to a low club, and Hirata did extremely well to play low. The bare club ace was forced to take the trick, and declarer played a third diamond, letting Hirata win and unblock his club jack as South pitched a spade. Now East advanced a heart honor, which was ducked all around.

Hirata now exited with his second top heart to lock declarer either out of his hand or dummy. The best move for declarer would have been to win the third heart in hand with his nine, but he would then have had to concede trick 13. Declarer ran the hearts from the top and finished two down, representing a top for North-South.


Do you bid two spades or three spades? (Go to the back of the class if you did more.) Your partner normally has a balanced 12-14, relatively short in hearts, so your honors in that suit won’t be working. On that basis, it seems clear that you should make a simple raise to two spades. Anytime partner has extras, he will be unbalanced and will bid on, so you ought to be able to reach game whenever it is making.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ K 9 7 2
 Q J 7 5
 K 8 6
♣ J 3
South West North East
    1 ♣ Pass
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 2018. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, September 7th, 2018

Knowledge may give weight, but accomplishments give luster, and many more people see than weigh.

Lord Chesterton


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

*Texas for spades

♠2

After North’s Texas transfer response followed by Roman Key-card Blackwood, West knew to go passive on opening lead, so he put a trump on the table. Declarer counted 11 top tricks and saw that if trumps broke, he could arrange an elimination play. He would draw trumps, cash the hearts and play a diamond to the queen; if that lost, West would be endplayed.

South won the lead and drew a second round, realizing his hypothetical elimination play would now not work. So he drew the last trump and was about to go after diamonds when he realized that he might as well cash his hearts first. He took the three top hearts, then led a diamond to the queen.

West won his king but had no heart to lead. Since declarer was marked with the club queen, he could do no better than exit with the diamond jack, hoping his partner would produce the 10. But declarer could win his ace and throw a club on his good diamond 10: He ended up with six trumps, three hearts, two diamonds and a club to make his contract.

Notice that if declarer had failed to cash the hearts, the contract would have failed, since West would then have had a safe exit in hearts. As the play actually went, if West had had the fourth heart to lead after winning his diamond trick, declarer would ruff, then play the diamond ace and ruff a diamond. If the diamond jack had not fallen, he would have taken the club finesse as his last chance.


You don’t want to pass and hear partner run to one spade, which he might do with, for example, a 4-3-3-3 shape; so it seems right to bid either one diamond or one heart. I would start by bidding one diamond, and if the opponents doubled enthusiastically, I’d run to one heart.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ 3
 9 5 4 3
 7 5 4 2
♣ 10 9 4 2
South West North East
  1 ♣ Dbl. Rdbl.
?      

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 2018. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.