Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, August 18th, 2019

Holding ♠ J-9,  A-Q-J,  A-10-4-3, ♣ A-7-6-4, I believe I have a straightforward opening of one no-trump. After my left-hand opponent overcalls two spades, how should my partnership play a double over and under the trumps — and what should I do if the auction comes back to me?

Crowded House, Pasadena, Calif.

It is sensible to play all doubles of a natural call (or of a two-suited call that names one of the two suits naturally) as take-out, if and only if it is the first call your partnership has made after the no-trump opener. So both sides play take-out doubles of two spades here. I’d make that call in this case; this shape is perfect for it, and my partner can bid his suit. If he has two places to play, he can bid two no-trump.

I understood that following an overcall after your partner opens, as responder you can always start with a take-out double, no matter what was bid to your right. In what cases would double be for penalty?

Red Flag, Cartersville, Ga.

If you play negative doubles in response to an opening bid, it means that all initial doubles of overcalls of four spades or lower are emphasized toward take-out. Doubles of three spades and higher may tend toward optional, though. Doubles of no-trump bids and of artificial calls that show two-suited hands, however, suggest a desire to defend. (When the opponents find a fit, all doubles by either player at their second turn tend to be take-out).

Should you wait until you have all suits properly controlled before launching into Blackwood? Or should you cue-bid instead?

Mumbo-Jumbo, Muncie, Ind.

Don’t use Blackwood if you are sure you won’t know what to do over the response. In other words, if your hand consists of the first-round controls but not second- and third-round controls, let your partner ask; cue-bid instead to let him do so. When your side has more than enough high-card points for slam, it is not terrible to use Blackwood with one suit that may be unguarded if no sensible alternative exists.

Please tell me how I can discreetly ask my opponents not to look at my partner’s cards — or find a way to help my partner hold his cards back!

Hiding in Plain Sight, Dodge City, Kan.

One thought is that you might ask an opponent to hold his cards back, and then extend the warning to your partner. Incidentally, one thing that always gets my goat is people who count their suits so their partner (but only their partner) might see, if they are looking. That should be firmly if politely discouraged, too.

What scheme of responses do you recommend to a two-club opener? Do you prefer complex over simple schemes, and what is your opinion of control-showing responses?

Tripe and Onions, Troy, N.Y.

I recommend a simple scheme of responses. I’m happy to bid two hearts with positive values and a reasonable suit, whereas a two-spade call needs two top honors in five or more cards, or a six-card suit and one top honor. I can see the logic of using all other calls as natural, but if you prefer something artificial, use two no-trump as clubs with limited values. Bids at the three-level would then be natural with very good suits (or transfers if you want to live a little).


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 2019. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Saturday, August 17th, 2019

Art is a human activity having for its purpose the transmission to others of the highest and best feelings to which men have risen.

Leo Tolstoy


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

*Takeout

♣Q

In today’s deal from a recent knockout match in England, North-South got too high, but it still required good carding to maximize the defensive trump tricks — the theme of all this week’s deals.

South thought he was facing a mild invitation to game, so he bid on. West doubled because he had trump tricks; he led out the club queen, then the jack.

Declarer could mark West with four hearts to the queen for his double, with East presumably holding the black top cards. Leading a low trump at trick three would limit his trump losers to one, but West would take the heart queen and play a third club to force declarer down to trump parity. Declarer could then draw trumps and run the diamonds, but would no longer be able to set up a spade for his 10th trick while East still had the spade ace and the master club.

So declarer had to knock out East’s spade ace, the entry to the long club, at once. He could not cross to the diamond ace, since that was dummy’s late entry to the diamonds, so he led the spade king from hand, hoping for a club continuation, which would have seen him home.

However, East could see that a further club lead would be no good, so he changed tack. Looking to promote a trump trick for his partner, he returned a spade.

Declarer took the spade queen and led a low heart toward dummy, but West took his queen and forced dummy to ruff with a third spade, promoting his heart 10 to the setting trick.



Your partner’s double should be take-out showing values, presumably with no more than two spades and two or three diamonds. Since he did not overcall one heart, he must have at least four clubs, so it seems right to bid three clubs now.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ A 10 5 4 3
 7
 J 4 3
♣ A K 6 3
South West North East
  1 Pass 1
1 ♠ 2 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 2019. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, August 16th, 2019

There is a loveliness exists, Preserves us, not for specialists.

W.D. Snodgrass


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

♠Q

Today’s deal from the European Mixed Teams Championships defeated most defenders. It focuses on this week’s theme of the defenders needing to promote trump tricks for themselves.

East feared wasting one of partner’s trump tricks if he overtook the spade queen, so he let it hold the first trick. West can now visualize five tricks for the defense: two spades, a diamond, a club and a promotion for the heart king on the third spade. While declarer might finesse in hearts even if his side doesn’t maneuver a trump promotion, South won’t finesse once he knows East has the spade aceking.

However, continuing spades at trick two won’t do. East would overtake and play a third round, but declarer could discard his diamond loser. East could lead a further spade, but declarer would ruff in hand and pitch dummy’s club king, losing just three spades and an over-ruff.

West should follow the normal practice of taking the side-suit winners that aren’t needed for communication purposes before trying for a trump promotion. He must cash the club ace before playing a second spade.

Now West’s heart king will be good for the fourth defensive trick if declarer ruffs in on the third spade, with a diamond still to come. And if South discards, then the fourth round of spades will do the trick.

At other tables, some Easts overtook the first spade and shifted to diamonds. Declarer could now succeed by taking his red-suit aces.



My general rules about whether to bid and what to bid on marginal hands that include a six-card suit start from the assumption that you should always bid immediately with a good six-card suit. Whether you act at the one- or two-level will depend on the specific hand, of course, but this hand has a bad suit and isn’t worth a one-level opener in first seat, so I’d pass.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ 7 6
 A 9 7 5 4 3
 A J
♣ J 10 8
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 2019. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, August 15th, 2019

You don’t have to be intelligent, but I think you have to be open to possibilities and willing to explore. The only stupid people are those who are arrogant and closed off.

Edward de Bono


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

7

Today’s deal is part of the week’s theme of the defenders maximizing their trump tricks. South had reached a respectable suit game when he converted three no-trump to four spades; his decision was sensible because if North didn’t have the spade ace, the South hand might have been worthless in no-trump.

West kicked off with a diamond, taken by dummy’s ace. Declarer naturally began to draw trumps, starting with 10. East knew that West would have led his lowest from three small in his partner’s suit. So the best chance for another trick seemed to lie in trumps. He played small on the first spade, and declarer, unwilling to overtake the 10, left the lead on the table.

When declarer called for a club, East could see he had little chance of a second club trick, since his ace was about to fall. To keep the defense a step ahead, he rose with the ace, then took the diamond king, followed by another diamond. His plan was to promote a trump trick for his side when his partner had as little as the spade eight.

Declarer ruffed the third diamond high and led the spade jack, but when East took the ace and played another diamond, the jig was up. The defense had to take another trick for one down, in a maneuver that represented a double trump promotion.

Note that if declarer had guessed to play the diamond queen on the first trick, the only way to set the game would have been to win with the king … and return a diamond.



There is no guarantee that it is safe to come back into this auction (your partner could have close to a Yarborough, after all), and I suspect I would pass if my right-hand opponent weren’t already a passed hand. But as it is, I think it is right to double, hoping partner will have a long suit of his own, have three cards in support of diamonds, or be able to bid two no-trump as a scramble to let you bid your second suit.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ 10
 A Q 4
 A Q 10 9 3
♣ K 8 7 4
South West North East
  Pass Pass 1 ♣
1 1 ♠ 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 2019. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Wednesday, August 14th, 2019

When you study natural science and the miracles of creation, if you don’t turn into a mystic you are not a natural scientist.

Albert Hofmann


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

9

Today’s deal to continue our week’s theme of trump promotions comes from “On the Other Hand — A Bridge From East to West” by Martin Hoffman and Kathie Wei-Sender.

South, who had put himself in four hearts instead of letting his partner play three no-trump, won the opening diamond lead with the king, then cashed the spade queen. He then led the club two, and West took his ace, fearing the two was a singleton. West returned his remaining diamond, and South won with dummy’s ace, then threw his remaining diamonds on the spade ace-king.

The question now was whether the defenders could score three trump tricks. They did not, because South led dummy’s heart to his own queen, and East won the next heart lead with the 10. On East’s diamond lead, South thoughtfully ruffed with the heart king. Then he led a heart and cashed the remaining trumps to make the game.

Nicely played, but the defense would have prevailed if West had won the second trump trick with the jack. He could then lead a spade, allowing East to ruff with the heart ace. Then a diamond lead would promote West’s remaining heart as the setting trick.

Does that mean West was at fault here? Yes and no. East could have made the defense easier by playing the heart 10 on the nine. Then West would have been forced to win the second trump trick, and now the trump promotion would be much easier to find.



You have some nice shape (albeit no great fit for partner) and some real extra values. Do you have enough to raise to two no-trump? I’d say so, but if I had the club 10, I’d be more optimistic about my partner’s chance to set up the suit for one or two losers.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ A K 9 8
 9
 A 5 3
♣ K Q 7 6 4
South West North East
1 ♣ Pass 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 2019. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, August 13th, 2019

Books must follow sciences and not sciences books.

Francis Bacon


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

K

Today, we see an expert following a textbook play. Alas for him, he had failed to realize that it is sometimes necessary to set aside the manuals when other issues demand it. Fortunately for our hero, the defense were also on autopilot, not using their imagination sufficiently to generate extra trump tricks for themselves, which is the theme of this week’s deals.

Four hearts was the normal contract on this board, and Zia Mahmood and Norberto Bocchi reached it straightforwardly. When West led the diamond king, which went to the six, three, and seven (a routine falsecard from Zia). West now understandably, but perhaps a trifle unimaginatively, continued with a second diamond, which Zia won and crossed to hand twice in clubs to take two finesses in hearts, making the routine 10 tricks for an above-average score.

Unremarkable, you may say. Yes, but Zia had given the defense a chance when he ducked the first diamond, a play that was unlikely to gain him anything.

Similarly, West might have reasoned that if declarer had two diamonds, continuing the suit would achieve nothing, while even if he had three diamonds, there could be no entries back to the West hand to reach the defense’s second trick in that suit. If West had shifted to a spade at trick two, the defense could lead that suit at every opportunity to arrange a trump promotion for the heart queen that Zia would be unable to stop.



Since you limited your hand at your first turn to be in the range 0-9 high-card points, your partner’s double suggests real extras. In that context, because of your first two calls, you have a pretty decent hand, and the best way to show it is to jump to three spades. Partner will infer that you have five spades and about 6 or 7 points.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ K 9 7 5 3
 K 4 3
 5 4 3
♣ 10 4
South West North East
Pass 1 ♣ Dbl. Pass
1 ♠ 2 ♣ 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 2019. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, August 12th, 2019

Thou art not for the fashion of these times, Where none will sweat but for promotion.

William Shakespeare


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

8

All this week’s deals share a theme of the defenders utilizing their trumps to unusually good effect. Two of the maneuvers available to the defense in trumps are the ruff and the uppercut. Logic argues that if one defender takes ruffs, his partner will be the one to obtain the promotions, but today’s deal shows East-West scoring well on defense with the defender who had taken the ruff also being the one who ended up with the promoted trump.

At just about every table, South in third seat opened a leaddirecting one spade on his four-card major. West risked a twoheart overcall, and North ended the auction with a two-spade call. I’m sure North was probably happy when he put down his dummy, but that didn’t last long.

After a diamond lead to the 10 and queen, East cashed his ace and gave West a ruff. Now came the heart ace and a heart to dummy’s king, after which declarer ran the club jack to West’s king. That player cashed the heart queen, then led another heart. Dummy ruffed with the six, and East over-ruffed with the 10, forcing declarer’s jack.

South next cashed the club ace and ruffed the queen in dummy, then led dummy’s last trump to the queen and West’s ace. When West led his last heart at trick 12, East ruffed in with the eight, forcing the over-ruff. The spade nine represented the third undertrick for plus 300 and a 90% board.

Two down would have been virtually an average board; maybe there is a message for all those third-in-hand openers!



I’d lead the heart eight. It feels as if partner has at least four hearts, so leading our side’s long suit should give us a decent chance to set up an extra trump trick one way or another. A club lead might achieve the same result, but that is more likely to cost a trick if it is doesn’t hit an honor in partner’s hand.

LEAD WITH THE ACES

♠ Q 7 4 2
 J 9 8
 10 5
♣ K J 5 4
South West North East
      1 ♠
Pass 2 ♣ Pass 2 NT
Pass 4 ♠ 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 2019. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, August 11th, 2019

If you open one spade and the opponents intervene with two diamonds, what action would you take, holding ♠ K-Q-8-7-2,  K-Q,  Q-3, ♣ A-Q-J-4, when the auction comes back around to you? I assume the hand is too good for a pass, but what action covers the most bases?

Great Auk, Galveston, Texas

You should not pass, though defending two diamonds may be the only way to go plus — or yield the smallest negative. If you do bid, a call of three clubs is on the table — the problem being that it is such a committal action. Doubling for take-out and converting a response of two hearts to three clubs suggests this hand type, but that route also lets partner bid two spades over the double, or even pass.

Say you have ♠ K-8-2,  K-Q-7-6-5-4  Q-3, ♣ J-4. Do you pass, open at the one-level or open at the two-level, and what factors determine which way you should go?

Green Grouper, Eau Claire, Wis.

Non-vulnerable, this is just too strong to pass in any seat. Opening two hearts in third seat might see your side undercompete if the hand belonged to you. Vulnerable, I hate the weak spots and the side defense, so I’d open one heart, even if it might be a fraction too weak. Everything else, especially passing, seems worse.

I am interested in trying to acquire more master points. How do Swiss Teams work, and would they be a sensible way to go about achieving my goal?

Chasing the Dream, Ketchikan, Alaska

The urge to acquire points often exists in inverse proportion to the number you already have. But Swiss Teams are typically played over a single day, with multiple teams playing short matches. Your pairing is based on your day’s results, with matches scored not on a win-loss basis, but on a sliding scale where you can earn from 0-20 victory points. These points are accumulated over the whole event.

Holding ♠ Q-3-2,  Q-9-7-4-2,  10-8, ♣ A-Q-J, I assume you would not open the bidding. If you passed and heard a one-diamond opening bid on your left, passed back to you, would you balance over it, and with what call?

Backup Planner, Pierre, S.D.

Vulnerability or position might influence you; I’d open in third seat but not in first or second. If I passed, I’d certainly balance over one diamond at any vulnerability. I’d plan to bid one heart and consider balancing a second time with a double of two diamonds, if necessary, to get both black suits into play. That fifth heart is too important to conceal, and if I double, we may lose it altogether.

My partner has asked me to play Lebensohl, but I’m not sure I understand the implications. Can you explain the call and discuss in which sequences it is commonly played?

Cold Comfort, Fort Walton Beach, Fla.

After the opponents butt in over your partner’s one-no-trump opening or overcall, two-level calls by you are non-forcing. Three-level bids are strong, and two no-trumps puppets to three clubs — typically a weak hand with its own suit, but it may include some balanced or invitational hands. See https://www.bridgebum.com/lebensohl_after_1nt.php. These methods can be played after the double of a weak two-bid, but here, two-level bids can be a bust, while actions at the three-level are invitational, not forcing.


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 2019. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Saturday, August 10th, 2019

It is said that God is always on the side of the bigger battalions.

Voltaire


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

*Three key-cards

**Trump queen and club king

K

After South doubles two hearts, then bids spades to show a good hand, North uses Keycard Blackwood, then asks for the trump queen (finding it and the club king).

In six spades, South takes the heart king lead in dummy and, protecting against an adverse trump split, begins to elope with his small trumps. A heart ruff is followed by the three top spades, West showing out on the second round. Declarer, pleased to have made good use of his heart entry, leads a diamond to the king and ruffs another heart. East should not have more than three hearts after West’s vulnerable weak two, coupled with the odd count signal at trick one. On this assumption, declarer has a lock for his contract.

He cashes the diamond ace; if West discards, East will be marked with a 4=3=5=1 pattern, and declarer will cash the club king, then take a club finesse to avoid setting up East’s long diamond. As it is, though, everyone follows to the diamond.

Accordingly, declarer continues with the diamond queen, putting East in an impossible position. If he ruffs with his master trump, he will be forced to lead into dummy’s club tenace. East can discard a club, which would suffice if declarer had begun with only three diamonds. But today this only delays the inevitable. On the next diamond, East is faced with a similar dilemma. Either he ruffs and leads a club, or he discards again and lets declarer collect two club tricks for his contract.



The three-heart call suggests a weak hand with reasonably long hearts, making it straightforward enough to bid three no-trump, since you have the fourth suit guarded and no fit for your partner. Whether or not you can make three no-trump, no other game looks appealing.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ A K Q 5 2
 6
 A Q J 2
♣ K 5 3
South West North East
1 ♠ Pass 1 NT Pass
3 Pass 3 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 2019. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, August 9th, 2019

For early today to my utter dismay, It had vanished away like the dew in the morn.— Michael Flanders and Donald


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

*Two aces and the trump queen

♣Q

The modern style is to open a no-trump on in-range (and occasionally out-of-range!) hands when balanced or semi-balanced. So, hands may qualify that contain a five-card major, a six-card minor or even a 5-4-2-2 pattern with an awkward rebid or with its values concentrated in the short suits. The most inconvenient hands are those with a five-card minor and a higher suit, though hands with four spades are rarely a problem.

South was a purist, though, and opened one heart. When West pre-empted in spades, North cue-bid three spades to show at least a high-card raise to game. South cue-bid four clubs, letting North drive to slam via the obligatory use of Key-card Blackwood. Plan the play now.

Declarer takes the club queen lead in hand and, after drawing trumps in three rounds, eliminates the minors in preparation for an endplay. He can surely see that West has six spades headed by the king for his weak jump overcall — can you see the winning line?

South cashes the club king, ruffs a club and plays three rounds of diamonds. He then plays a low spade from both hands. If East is allowed to win, he must give declarer a ruff-and-discard, while if West wins, he has an equally unattractive option of leading around to declarer’s spade queen. Either way, the second spade loser vanishes.

Note that cashing the spade ace first, or leading a spade to the queen, would allow West to win and safely return a spade.



Your partner may not have much spade support, but your hand will surely play much better in spades than hearts. Imagine your partner with a singleton spade, and you can still score five tricks if that is the trump suit, whereas your hand will be worthless in hearts. So bid two spades now.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ K J 10 9 7 4
 6
 8 3
♣ Q J 10 2
South West North East
  1 ♣ 1 Pass
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 2019. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.