Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, November 12th, 2018

A man may be in as just possession of truth as of a city, and yet be forced to surrender.

Sir Thomas Browne


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

4

In today’s deal from a team game, one pair came back to score up with what they considered a normal result in their game contract: North had opened a weak no-trump and played four spades on a heart lead. He could not find a way to succeed after that start, but was disappointed to lose a big swing when four spades came home from the South seat in the other room on the auction shown. And it all came down to the play to trick one.

When you have this combined heart holding, you are happy to have the suit led around to — rather than through — your tenace. You are gifted a second trick in the suit, but that will not do you any good today. One discard is completely irrelevant in comparison to the avoidance issues in the minor suits.

See what happens if South wins East’s heart queen with the ace. After drawing trumps, declarer will run the diamond nine. East can win with the king and return a heart to West’s king, then a club shift will beat the contract.

At the table, South appreciated the necessity of keeping the danger hand, West, off lead. By allowing East’s heart queen to hold, communications between the defensive hands were cut. East could not effectively attack clubs from his side of the table. South won the heart return, drew trumps, then ran the diamond nine. East could win in either case the first or second round, but the defenders were limited to one club trick in any case.



There is no clear reason to get aggressive with a heart lead — nothing about this auction suggests we cannot beat three spades on normal defense. So it feels right to lead a diamond, but which? I tend to lead top of three small in a bid-and-raised suit. From a four-card suit, I would therefore lead the eight; the six might be hard to read if declarer has a singleton honor.

LEAD WITH THE ACES

♠ J 8 2
 J 8
 8 6 3 2
♣ A Q 6 3
South West North East
    1 1 ♠
2 2 ♠ 3 3 ♠
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, November 11th, 2018

Recently while declaring four hearts, I reached trick 13 and discovered my left-hand opponent, who was on lead, had no cards left. The missing diamond jack from his hand had been played simultaneously with another card (a club), but no one had noticed. What is supposed to happen now?

Lost in the Shuffle, Worcester, Mass.

Call the director first. I’d expect the diamond jack to be restored to your opponent’s hand and led to the last trick. If the player has revoked in the meantime, the penalty is whatever the revoke laws demand, but if he has managed to follow suit throughout thus far, he can count his lucky stars — there is no penalty.

I’m trying to learn the basics of declarer play. Should declarer count winners or losers when planning the play?

Victor the Viper, Augusta, Ga.

You ask a tough question, akin to asking the length of a piece of string. Do you count losers or winners? I just don’t know how to answer, because sometimes it is one, sometimes the other. Often it is losers, not winners, that are critical at suits, especially when we have tricks to spare. I think I look for winners first, and if I meet the target, then I make sure to control losers. Each hand brings its own rules.

I know fourth-suit forcing sets up a game-forcing auction. But how does opener deal with a fourth-suit forcing call, holding ♠ A-Q-J-4,  J-10-4-2,  5, ♣ K-Q-10-8? If you open one club and partner responds one diamond, do you bid your better major? If you bid hearts and your partner bids one spade, do you raise or bid no-trump?

Subway Rider, Pierre, S.D.

There are different approaches to fourth-suit at the one-level, but whether this truly sets up a game force or not, it is simplest to play continuations by opener as entirely natural. Here, a call of two spades suggests this pattern and 12-14 points, while a jump to three spades is the same shape but 15-17. Raising the fourth suit shows four (assuming you haven’t bypassed the suit, in which case it suggests honor-third).

What is your opinion on opening a pre-empt on one fewer card than might be expected in third seat, non-vulnerable, or indeed at any other position or vulnerability? If you are not entirely opposed, what are the conditions you would require for such an action?

Silver Bells, Dayton, Ohio

I’m opposed to random frivolity, though with a good suit and low defense — say, king-queen-fifth — I can understand feeling the need to act facing a passed partner. I don’t mind bidding one of a major with a five-card suit and limited values in third seat. But an outright psych tends to destroy partnership trust for the next time you pre-empt, so I like to keep my hand roughly in line with what my partner might hope for.

I opened one diamond with ♠ K-Q-10-4,  A-J-10-5,  A-K-Q-7-2, ♣ —-, and heard my partner invite game with a jump to three clubs. I wasn’t sure whether to bid three no-trump or explore for a different strain. We eventually played in three no-trump, scrambling to reach nine tricks when my partner had seven solid clubs and I had no entry to the board — but six clubs would have been ice cold. What are your thoughts?

Missed the Boat, Bristol, Va.

With your partner’s hand, I might have responded two clubs, but I’m not sure that would help us get to six clubs. Hands like these are going to cause even the experts a problem. Mind you, had your partner been the opener and been able to bid three no-trump to show a solid minor, life would have been considerably easier.


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, November 10th, 2018

I don’t think necessity is the mother of invention – invention, in my opinion, arises directly from idleness, possibly also from laziness. To save oneself trouble.

Agatha Christie


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

♣4

Italy’s Andrea Manno had to emulate Hercule Poirot to succeed in his slam at the 2014 Cavendish, held in Monte Carlo.

Manno ended in slam after East had opened one diamond, guaranteeing an unbalanced hand, since he would have opened one club with a balanced hand. West selected the club four as his opening lead (lowest from an odd number or third-highest from an even number) — a fine choice, since on a diamond lead, declarer will take 12 tricks without breaking a sweat. He can set up spades to pitch his club losers, even if he loses a spade trick.

On the club lead, Manno rose with dummy’s ace and took due notice of East’s 10. Declarer cashed the spade ace next, then set about drawing trumps. When East showed up with four hearts, that meant that he surely held at least nine cards in the red suits. The club 10 at trick one suggested a doubleton; it could not be a singleton, since in that case West would have led the king from the king-queen, and not the four. And if East had three clubs, East must also have a singleton spade, in which case the contract could not be made, since there would be no entry to dummy’s long spade.

This allowed Manno to deduce East’s 2-4-5-2 shape, and he also knew East had a maximum of 9 points in the minors. To have enough material for even the slightest of opening bids, East surely had to hold the spade queen. So Manno cashed the spade king, and down came the queen.



I cannot tell you that Stayman here is a bad bid, or that it will not work. It is indeed the normal (if unthinking) thing to do. But consider that if you play a 4-4 heart fit, it might be the only game you cannot make if partner has bad hearts or if the suit does not break. With honors in your short suits and a side source of tricks, I suggest jumping to three no-trump, which gives away far less about declarer’s shape.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ Q 4
 9 6 4 2
 K Q J 9 7
♣ K 10
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 2018. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, November 9th, 2018

To try to understand the real significance of what the great artists, the serious masters, tell us in their masterpieces, that leads to God.

Vincent van Gogh


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

*Forcing for this pair

♠7

Helen Sobel was one of the world’s best players of her generation. When she declared three no-trump here, West led the spade seven, his partner’s suit. Sobel made two winning plays at the first trick: She called for dummy’s 10, and then she ducked East’s queen.

After taking the spade king continuation with the ace, she played the club queen (hoping the club honors were split). East took this with the king and played the spade nine, taken by Sobel’s jack, while discarding a heart from dummy. Then came the club 10. West won and could do no better than exit with a club, taken by the jack. The diamond ace came next, then a diamond to the queen, and the hand was over. Sobel had two tricks in each major, plus a club and four diamonds.

Note the significance of the play to the first trick. If declarer does not put up the spade 10, East covers the seven with the eight. South must duck, or the spades will eventually be set up, as the defenders still have communications in place in spades. After declarer ducks trick one, if the defenders are careful not to open up hearts, declarer can take no more than eight tricks.

But once declarer puts up the 10, it forces East to cover; otherwise, declarer has a cheap trick while retaining two spade stoppers. Now, by ducking, declarer has effectively severed the defenders’ communications in the spade suit.



Bid two no-trump here. I believe this to be a forcing auction, though not forcing to game. With one heart stopper and no reason to assume either opponent has five hearts, you should bid what is in front of you. While you might just about have a 4-4 spade fit, your partner can explore (with a cue-bid of three hearts) if his hand is unsuitable to play no-trump, but he wants to drive to game.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ A J 5 2
 K 9 2
 Q 7 5 2
♣ Q 10
South West North East
1 Dbl. Rdbl. 1
Pass 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: Thursday, November 8th, 2018

An invasion of armies can be resisted, but not an idea whose time has come.

Victor Hugo


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

K

Today’s deal shows what appears to be a relatively simple contract of four spades. However, the deal may only appear to be easy because there seem to be five top tricks outside the trump suit and the threat of only three losers (one in each side suit after a top heart lead). But that ignores the risk of the defenders cashing more than one heart if you draw all the trumps; or they may get a ruff or overruff if you don’t draw trumps.

The simplest way to play the hand is to assume trumps will break. After the heart king lead to your ace (ducking might permit the defenders a ruff), the simplest plan is to cash the spade ace and king, then play on clubs.

East can take either the first or second round of clubs, and will play a heart when he does so. Dummy’s remaining trump can now be used to ruff the third heart. East overruffs, but that is the last defensive trick, since there are no trumps out and declarer has the diamond ace as an entry to dummy.

One trap to avoid here is playing three rounds of trumps before playing clubs. If you do so, the defenders may be able to cash one club and three heart tricks, since dummy will be bereft of trumps. Similarly, if you draw fewer than two rounds of trumps before playing two rounds of clubs, with the cards lying as they do in the diagram, West may get a club ruff from the short trumps, then lead hearts to promote a trump trick for his partner.



Not all hands fit into the convenient algorithm of adding up the high cards and spitting out an answer. If your diamond nine were in clubs, I would probably pass two hearts, but your extra shape means you have enough to invite game. A case could be made for reraising to three hearts to suggest six; but maybe a rebid of two no-trump more accurately expresses your values.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ 10 2
 K Q J 9 4
 Q 10 9 5
♣ 7 3
South West North East
    1 NT Pass
2 Pass 2 Pass
?      

The Aces on Bridge: Wednesday, November 7th, 2018

Driftwood: I’m practically a hermit.
Henderson: Oh, a hermit. I notice the table’s set for four.
Driftwood: That’s nothing; my alarm clock is set for eight. That doesn’t prove a thing.

“A Night at the Opera”


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

♣K

Whether you have agreed to play high or low cards to encourage the opening lead, you must occasionally send a different kind of message. One possibility is to use suit-preference signals if continuation of the suit led cannot possibly be right — but it is often far from obvious to both players that this is the case.

Today we shall look at the subject of “alarm clocks” at the bridge table. These don’t just say: “Wake up, partner!” Instead, they ask partner neither to continue with the suit led nor to shift to what would otherwise be the normal suit. Does that sound obscure? Maybe, but a relatively recent Rosenblum Trophy produced just such an opportunity. Though East-West were an unfamiliar partnership, they were on the same wavelength when it mattered.

Bruce Rogoff, West, found himself on lead against four spades after Gay Keaveney had chosen to jump to four spades rather than use a transfer. Fortuitously, this meant the hand with a side-suit singleton was not on lead.

When Rogoff led the club king, his partner, Barry Rigal, produced the queen. A discouraging club would have produced a heart shift, so was something else required? Rogoff drew the right conclusion and shifted to a diamond.

Declarer won dummy’s ace and went after trumps; East could take his spade ace to play back a low club to West’s ace for the diamond ruff. Since Rogoff’s teammates had stopped in two spades, making four, this turned out to be a decent swing in instead of a large swing away.


Sometimes we have to choose between the practical and the elegant. This may not be a balanced hand, but 16-counts with five of a minor and four hearts present a real problem if you do not open a strong no-trump. Upgrade a 17-count to a reverse, and downgrade a 15-count to a one no-trump rebid if practical; but with a 16-count and some honors in your short suit, maybe a one-no-trump call is the least lie.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ K 10
 A J 8 6
 A Q J 9 8
♣ J 6
South West North East
?      
       

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, November 6th, 2018

Things fall apart; the center cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world.

W.B. Yeats


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

3

Today’s deal comes from a Common Game event about six months ago, and while it may not show particularly great play, I thought it represented the sort of errors that real people fell into. North-South are actually a very competent pair, but North chose a poor moment to introduce spades instead of making a constructive heart raise — had he done the latter, I would have led a top spade against four hearts.

I chose to lead a trump; declarer won and immediately ruffed a diamond in dummy, then played the ace and another club. The defenders could win that and play a second club, and declarer now had no more than nine tricks.

This is the sort of hand where you might sensibly play for ruffs on a minor suit lead; but after a trump lead, you must play to set up spades. Say the worst happens, and you win the trump in hand to lead a spade. When West plays low, you put up the king. If East now wins the ace to return a trump, you win in dummy and ruff a spade. When an honor appears, you play a trump to the board and pass the spade 10, pitching a minor-suit card and ensuring 10 tricks for your side. This line almost guarantees the contract against anything but an extremely unlucky lie of the spades. You are likely to make at least 10 tricks unless West began with queen-jack-fourth of spades or East started with something like ace-queen-jack-fourth in that suit.



You should double here. Your partner may not have much of anything, but he could just as easily have something like four spades to the king-jack and be unable to take action. After all, your hand does not always deliver quite so many quick tricks on defense. As it is, though, you can surely expect your partner to find a sensible resting place in hearts or clubs if he does not have the requisite trump holding.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ 6
 A K J 8 4
 A 9 5
♣ A 5 4 2
South West North East
      2
2 2 ♠ Pass Pass
?      

For details of Bobby Wolff’s autobiography, The Lone Wolff, contact theLoneWolff@bridgeblogging.com. If you would like to contact Bobby Wolff, please leave a comment at this blog.
Reproduced with permission of United Feature Syndicate, Inc., Copyright 2018. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, November 5th, 2018

People who know little are usually great talkers, while men who know much say little.

Jean Jacques Rousseau


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

3

A simple auction sees West on lead with a blind choice against four spades. While a trump would work best, he can hardly be blamed for selecting a diamond as what appears to be his most passive lead option.

Consider your play before contributing a card from dummy. You appear to have one diamond, three hearts and one possible spade loser if you treat South as the master hand. The good news is that your heart losers can be covered by dummy’s trumps.

Your plan should be to ruff two of the heart losers in dummy, so you have to take the opening lead with the diamond ace to avoid surrendering a tempo. Given a second chance, the defenders might shift to spades, after which you would be unable to ruff two hearts in the North hand.

After winning the diamond ace, you should play a small heart from hand without playing any trumps. As a matter of general technique, you can preserve the heart ace as a re-entry to your hand, to facilitate communications. You take West’s spade switch in dummy, cross to hand with the heart ace to ruff a heart low, then come to the club king to ruff a second heart with dummy’s remaining high trump. Then you can re-enter your hand with the club ace to play trumps and drive out the spade queen.

The defenders can force you to ruff a diamond, but you still have enough trumps left to claim the rest.



This is an ugly hand from which to lead spades. If I did lead a spade, I might select the king rather than a low one, maybe to retain the lead or to make partner’s play in the suit easier at trick one. The club sequence is a reasonably attractive alternative. The club 10 may give the game away in that suit, but nothing else really looks appealing, does it?

LEAD WITH THE ACES

♠ K J 3
 J 8 7 2
 J 3
♣ 10 9 7 3
South West North East
  Pass 1 ♠ Dbl.
2 ♠ Dbl. Pass 3
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, November 4th, 2018

I know you aren’t the biggest fan of Key-card Blackwood, but if you ask for key-cards, then for the trump queen, what responses should you use to that second ask?

Private Eye, San Luis Obispo, Calif.

Use a signoff in the trump suit as denying the trump queen. Other calls show it, and you cue-bid a side-suit king if you can, or jump in the trump suit (or bid five no-trump if the ask is above five of the trump suit) if you cannot. Additionally, one can agree that when you have the trump queen and two side kings, you cue-bid the king you don’t have.

I opened one diamond with this hand: ♠ A-Q-3,  10-5-3-2,  A-Q-7-4, ♣ Q-3. I raised the one-spade response to two (do you agree?), and then heard my partner bid three clubs. What should I have done next?

Bell, Book and Candle, Sitka, Alaska

Yes, I would raise to two spades, though many would prefer a one-no-trump rebid. At your third turn, you do have a maximum, but it is not clear where you belong. A temporizing call of three hearts may get you to three no-trump if that is appropriate. If your partner bids three spades, you will have to decide whether to advance, and if so, how. I think a delayed three-no-trump call would be reasonable.

I picked up ♠ A-10-2,  K-10-9-5,  J-9-7-4-3, ♣ K and passed in first seat. When my partner opened one club and the next hand overcalled one spade, I could make a negative double. But what is the right way to continue over my partner’s rebid of two hearts?

Mashed Potatoes, Eau Claire, Wis.

This is an auction where your partner will almost always deliver four hearts but be in the 12-14 range. So you are likely to have an eight-card fit with no values to spare for game. Does that mean you should pass — given that you do have an absolute maximum in high cards? I’m not sure. With your partner in third seat, you are on the cusp for a three-heart call. I think I’d pass, but if that singleton king were in a long suit, I’d bid.

I held ♠ 10,  A-K-8-6-5-3,  K-10-9-2, ♣ J-7 and opened one heart. When the next hand over-called one spade and my partner doubled, was I supposed to rebid two diamonds or two hearts? I opted to show my diamonds, and we ended up in a 4-3 diamond fit, which played far less well than our 6-1 heart fit would have.

Strawberry Jammer, Grenada, Miss.

The better the hearts, or the worse the diamonds, the more attractive a two-heart bid becomes. Here, without the diamond spots, I can see the logic in repeating the hearts. But bidding two diamonds describes nine of your 13 cards, whereas repeating hearts shows only six of them. So I’d bid the diamonds, expecting my partner generally to know when to revert to hearts. A 4-4 diamond fit ought to play much better than hearts, on average.

Please explain what Checkback Stayman means after opener has rebid one no-trump. Do I understand correctly that the sequence one diamond – one heart – one no-trump – two clubs is not natural? Isn’t there also a method called Two-way Checkback?

Inquiring Minds, Pottsville, Pa.

When opener rebids one no-trump, his degree of support for his partner and length in an unbid major are often still undefined. So responder has a Stayman-like relay (New Minor) at the two-level. This promises values and is searching for three-card trump support or length in an unbid major. Two-way New-Minor uses two clubs as a puppet to two diamonds, to play there or invite game somewhere, while two diamonds is a game-forcing relay.


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, November 3rd, 2018

If your opponent imagines that because you are a woman you’re easy to bluff, that you’d never bluff yourself and that you can be pushed around, you can exploit those assumptions.

Victoria Coren


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

J

John Armstrong, who was one of Britain’s top players, died 10 years ago after a highly successful 30-year international career. He was a keen orienteer and a fine pianist, and as a defender he was very good at putting himself into declarer’s mind and giving him a losing option.

The board comes from when Great Britain won the European Championships in Killarney in 1991, and shows both tables contributing to the team’s success.

Both Souths reached six diamonds on the lead of the heart jack. Each won with the ace, drew trumps (East pitching two spades) and took the three top spades. Then they both played a heart to the king and advanced dummy’s last heart.

The Czech East ducked, not wanting to be left on lead, and now when Andrew Robson ruffed, he decided that East’s play indicated that he had the club king.

It would have been a lot simpler to play for the club king onside, but Robson trusted his judgment and played a club to the nine. (Yes, West could have inserted the 10 to give declarer a nasty guess.) East was now end-played to give declarer a ruff-and-discard or play a club for him.

Where John Armstrong was East, when the third heart was led, he rose with the queen (pretending to be a man who did want to be left on lead). Declarer duly ruffed, but was convinced by this play that East did not have the club king. So, he laid down the club ace, then led up to the queen and duly went one down.



In auctions of this sort after the redouble, jumps should be played as pre-emptive or shapely, not real invitations. There aren’t enough points in the deck for your partner to have a high-card invitation. (With that hand, he might pass and jump at his next turn.) So while I can see the case for re-raising obstructively, I would pass now and let the opponents decide where they want to play the hand.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ K Q 6
 K 7 2
 K 9 7 4
♣ Q 9 4
South West North East
    Pass 1 ♣
Dbl. Rdbl. 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.