Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, January 21st, 2018

Recently, I held ♠ 10-2,  A-Q-J-3-2,  K-4, ♣ A-Q-3-2, and because I was worried about protecting my diamond king, I was tempted to open one no-trump rather than risking a one-heart call and hearing a response of one no-trump. What do you think about the general principle here?

Melting Moments, Taos, N.M.

I would never open one no-trump with a 5-4 pattern that includes a chunky five-card major, and would think it a major distortion of my hand to do so. Note that unprotecting your small doubleton spade is just as inelegant as protecting your doubleton king — which may not need protecting at all. A 5-4 pattern with a major is not a balanced hand, especially this hand.

I managed to pull two cards out of my hand simultaneously in the same suit, and the tournament director explained that this was only a minor penalty card, not a major penalty card. This is a new one on me, so I hope you will explain how the rules work.

Bumble Bee, Newark, N.J.

When two cards are played simultaneously or a card is dropped, and the exposed card is not an honor, you trigger the minor penalty-card rules. In such instances, the player must play the exposed card before any other non-honor card of the same suit. So you could play or discard the heart jack, but not the heart three, before (say) an exposed heart seven.

If your agreed style is to bid majors before diamonds in response to one club, what happens if you hold a 4-6 shape with clubs and a major, and you open one club and hear a one-diamond response? Should you bid the major or does it depend on suit quality?

Overpass, Corpus Christi, Texas

As opener, I would bid my major rather than repeat my clubs, almost no matter how weak the major and how strong my clubs. An exception might be to bypass an honorless major in favor of repeating a good six-card club suit. But even then, you might lose your 4-4 fit.

Do you have any simple rules as to what sort of hand passes over an opening bid, then comes into a live auction (i.e., not in the balancing seat) at his next turn? I’m contrasting what it means to pass then double after hearing one club to your right, one heart to your left and two clubs to your right.

Stepping Stone, Greenville, S.C.

Passing then reopening in the balancing seat conveys no special message, as you said. But backing into a live auction — as in the sequence quoted — when responder could still have a good hand, guarantees length in opener’s first-bid suit. Since you must have a good hand to act; you should have length in opener’s suit, or you would already have bid. Typically, you would be close to 4-1-4-4 with opening values.

When you open one club and raise partner’s one spade to two spades, with ♠ A-Q-3-2,  Q-5-3,  K-10, ♣ J-9-4-2, how would you bid on over a call of three diamonds from your partner?

Lumpfish, Wausau, Wis.

A simple raise to four spades looks right. You have a minimum, but if partner has length in diamonds, your holding looks ideal. Switch your red suits, and you should sign off in three spades since honor-third is not a great holding if partner needs help. By contrast, honor-doubleton lets your partner ruff the suit in your hand.


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, January 20th, 2018

When you begin a journey of revenge, start by digging two graves: one for your enemy, and one for yourself.

Jodi Picoult


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

♣10

We showed a deal from a Vanderbilt match between Hawkins and Pavlicek yesterday. The Pavlicek team had their revenge a deal or two later when the defenders ducked one too many times, and Bob Jones read the cards accurately to land a difficult contract.

West led the club 10 to the queen, jack and two. Jones played the diamond jack, which West decided to duck. Next came a low spade from dummy, and it was East’s turn to duck. Declarer won the jack and cashed the diamond ace. Next came Jones’ singleton heart, and West played low — this was the duck that was fatal to the defense, though it was very hard to see why at the time.

The heart king held the trick, and Jones, reading the layout with great accuracy, cashed the spade ace, extracting West’s last exit card. Then he played a low heart from dummy to West’s ace.

West could cash the club ace and play the club 10 to Jones’ king, but he put her back in with a fourth round of clubs, forcing a lead away from the diamond queen at trick 12 into his king-10 of diamonds.

To defeat the contract, it was necessary for West to rise with the heart ace on the first round of the suit. From that point on, West could exit with the low heart or with a spade. (It would even have been possible to cash the club ace before playing her spade). At that point, Jones would have been unable to achieve the multiple endplays he needed.


By bidding your two suits, you showed a good hand, typically with 5-5 since you might have doubled at your first or second turn with 5-4 in the majors. So given that you have told your full story and your partner did not choose to compete any further, I think you have to pass now.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ A Q 6 5 4
 K Q 10 7 6
 J
♣ Q 6
South West North East
  Pass Pass 1
1 ♠ Pass Pass 2
2 3 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: Friday, January 19th, 2018

Battles are won by slaughter and maneuver. The greater the general, the more he contributes in maneuver, the less he demands in slaughter.

Winston Churchill


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

8

In the 2004 Philadelphia Vanderbilt, the team captained by Richard Pavlicek took over the No. 1 seed in the event by defeating the Jim Foster team, which in turn had eliminated the defending Vanderbilt champions captained by Reese Milner in the previous round. Here, however, is one of the boards where the Foster team gained a game swing.

Against three no-trump, Mike Kamil led a heart in response to his partner’s bid. When Marty Fleisher as East correctly put in the jack, Allen Hawkins, declarer, took the trick with his queen. He led the club queen, which was ducked, but when he tried a second club to the jack, it lost to the ace.

Fleisher now thoughtfully tried to cut declarer’s communications by shifting to the spade jack, won in dummy with the queen. At this point, declarer seemed to be in rather poor shape. He could have cashed the second spade in dummy, but instead he decided to strand the spade ace by calling for a small diamond from dummy. When Fleisher rose with the king, Hawkins ducked. Fleisher switched back to hearts, leading the 10, and Hawkins took his king.

When declarer now cashed his three good clubs, he caught East in a strip-squeeze.

In the four-card ending, if Fleisher discarded down to two hearts, he could be endplayed with a heart to lead away from his diamonds. If he discarded a diamond, as he did, declarer could cash both the ace and jack. Either way, Hawkins would make his game.


Sometimes you have to settle for the best result possible, not the best possible result. Here my best guess is that two clubs is going to be a safer or better spot than any other contract you might finish up in, and that bidding on may turn a plus into a minus. Pass, and apologize to your partner if you guessed badly.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ A Q 8 4 3
 7
 9 6 3 2
♣ J 4 2
South West North East
  Pass 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 2018. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, January 18th, 2018

People say that life is the thing, but I enjoy reading.

Logan Pearsall Smith


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

The defense have a number of tactics and strategies available to them in trumps — for example, the ruff and the uppercut. It is rare for one and the same defender to get an extra trick from both strategies, but today’s deal from the second qualifying session of the national Open Pairs at the Philadelphia Nationals showed the defenders scoring well by doing just that.

In third seat, South opened one spade — after all, most macho men believe in four-card majors in third seat! West overcalled two hearts without much enthusiasm, but pairs events require you to do this sort of thing, and North had an easy bid of two spades. How bad can it be to finish up at the two-level here? Plenty bad, as you’ll see.

West led a diamond to the 10 and queen, and East cashed his diamond ace and gave his partner a ruff. Now the heart ace and a heart to the king saw declarer run the club jack to West’s king. West cashed the heart queen, then led another heart. Dummy ruffed with the six, and East over-ruffed with the eight, forcing declarer to over-ruff with his jack.

South next cashed the club ace and ruffed the club queen in dummy. He then led dummy’s last trump to the queen and West’s ace. Now West led his last heart at trick 12, and East ruffed in with the 10. When declarer over-ruffed, West’s spade nine took the contract down three tricks for plus 300 and 90 percent of the available matchpoints.


It is difficult to know how to handle a hand like this. My view is that jumping to four hearts and forcing the opponents to make their decision at a higher level is likely to be the best approach. Had partner opened two spades instead, you might simply raise to three spades, since your trumps would be weaker and your defense higher.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ 6 4 2
 K 6 5
 K J 10 5 3
♣ J 6
South West North East
    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: Wednesday, January 17th, 2018

Magic trick: to make people disappear, ask them to fulfill their promises.

Mason Cooley


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

♠2

Here is a might-have-been from the Philadelphia Nationals. The deal was reported anonymously to the Daily Bulletin, and it features an intriguing possibility.

As South, cover up the East and West cards. Your mundane part-score suddenly becomes interesting at trick two. West leads the spade two to the ace, and back comes the spade seven, ruffed with the heart three. West obediently follows his partner’s suit-preference signal in spades to cash the diamond king and play a second diamond to East’s ace. When the spade six comes through you, you ruff with the eight, and West throws a club. Over to you.

You need to hold your heart losers to one in order to make your contract. If West had both honors, he would certainly have over-ruffed, so you should play East for one or both honors.

One possibility is to cross to dummy via a club to the ace and run the heart queen.

Better, perhaps (assuming that East must surely have the heart jack), is to play a heart to the queen. If it loses to the king, you can cross to the club ace and finesse the heart 10.

This line looks safe against almost any normal lie of the cards, but, as you can see, it would not work today. If West refuses to over-ruff on the third round of spades with the jack, wouldn’t you say he deserves to beat the contract? Alas, West was only good enough to find the play in the bar after the event, not to make it at the table.


It feels right to bid two no-trump now. This lets your partner rebid clubs, or raise hearts with a doubleton, for example. A call of three diamonds by you would be the equivalent of fourth suit here, but when in doubt, the cheaper call is generally more efficient. Preference to three clubs on a doubleton should be a last resort.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ Q 8
 A 10 8 7 6 2
 Q 8 2
♣ K J
South West North East
1 Pass 2 ♣ 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: Tuesday, January 16th, 2018

Mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun.

Noel Coward


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

*Three key-cards

4

Today’s deal from a past national event comes from the last day of the National Swiss Teams, and shows Zia Mahmood in an unfamiliar role as the victim, being the reporter of a fine play against him, rather than the perpetrator, this time.

Both tables in the match between Mahaffey and Schwartz reached six spades with East-West silent. In one room, East doubled the slam, making the play somewhat easier after a heart lead, though in fact declarer lost his way when he played clubs in routine fashion for down one.

In the other room, Jim Mahaffey was not doubled by Mahmood, since it sounded as if North-South were looking for a grand slam, as indeed they were.

Michael Rosenberg still found the heart lead, and Mahmood ruffed, then exited with a diamond. Declarer won, drew trumps ending in hand in two rounds, cashed the heart king, then advanced the club queen. When West played low, Mahaffey decided that since neither opponent had bid, East was relatively unlikely to have more than six diamonds. Accordingly, the club finesse was heavily favored to be offside, but the double club finesse had suddenly become an excellent chance. He needed to find West with only small clubs or the doubleton 10.

He overtook his club queen with the ace, cashed dummy’s two top hearts to pitch his club losers, and ran the club jack, prepared to repeat the finesse if Mahmood covered. Mahmood ducked the club jack, but Mahaffey ran it anyway and brought home his slam.


This hand seems a little too good for a raise to three no-trump. The only safe way to explore is to bid three clubs, which in this context just implies doubt about strain or level. It is easy to imagine that a seven-card fit might play better in slam or even game than in no-trump.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ K Q J 3
 A Q 10 6
 4
♣ A J 9 8
South West North East
  Pass 1 Pass
1 Pass 2 Pass
2 ♠ Pass 2 NT Pass
?      

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

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, January 15th, 2018

A knowledgeable fool is a greater fool than an ignorant fool.

Molière


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

♠5

This week’s deals all come from national championship events from Philadelphia.

As West, you deal and pass, then hear one diamond on your left and one heart on your right. You bid two clubs, which produces two hearts on your left and four hearts on your right. You lead your singleton spade and see the diagramed dummy.

That opening spade lead goes to the six, partner’s seven and declarer’s queen. To your pleasure, declarer plays a heart to the ace, then a heart back to her jack as your partner pitches the spade four. What next?

The correct defense is to lead a low diamond now rather than the ace. You need partner to have the diamond king, and given that this is a teams event, you must assume he will know to rise with his king rather than duck (since if declarer has the ace, he cannot beat the game). Your natural play seems to be to play the diamond ace and 10, but when your partner wins the trick, how would he know you wanted a spade ruff, not a diamond ruff? Conversely, if you lead the diamond nine to his king, he won’t have any option but to get the defense right — you hope.

The good news on this occasion is that because your partner started with all the small spades, he will be able to read that you initially led a singleton and that you want a spade ruff — you may not be so lucky next time! To see what I mean, imagine that the spade two and nine were switched.


Your side surely has the balance of high cards. How is declarer ever going to make 10 tricks here if you lead the heart ace and continue in trump? Yes, dummy might conceivably produce a good diamond suit, but you surely still have time to shift to spades. So the heart ace feels right to me, even if a low trump is slightly safer.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ K Q 4
 A 9 6
 K J 4
♣ A 9 8 2
South West North East
  Pass Pass 2
2 NT 4 Dbl. 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, January 14th, 2018

As a non-expert who plays a few bells and whistles (one of which is using jumps both in and out of competition as shortage and fit for partner but not game-forcing), I saw a deal in your column recently where this would have reached a slam that was missed around the room. Have you contemplated using that method?

Lipstick Lizard, Houston, Texas

In an uncontested auction, such jumps should be natural — though you can agree any range for the call you like. A jump to three hearts, after partner opens one spade and the next hand bids two diamonds, for example, should be either weak or fit-showing. Minisplinters as you describe them are not my favorite. Will I change my methods? No — that may be the only hand these methods would work for!

I heard my partner open one diamond and the next hand overcall one heart. My hand was ♠ 9-8-3-2,  A-K-J,  J-7-5, ♣ Q-9-3, and I chose to ignore the spades and jump to two no-trump, invitational. My partner now bid three clubs, which I assume is forcing. What should I do now?

Continuing Education, London, Ontario

I do not see any reason not to bid three diamonds. This hand is exactly in range for what partner expects, and now partner may pass (which is fine by me) or bid values in whichever major he has values in. If he bids three hearts, I’d expect the spades to be wide open and go past three no-trump (maybe with a call of four hearts).

I have been taught to play a style where two-over-one is a game force except when responder rebid his suit. I find the only downside to this approach is that with a full opening hand, responder must find a second bid other than his suit at the three-level. What is your opinion of this style?

Old Jerrold, Spokane, Wash.

The main advantage of two-over-one is to establish a fit as early as possible between the partners, so every bid now becomes forcing. This means that your possible games and slams can be properly explored. That isn’t so when responder is denied the ability to make a forcing rebid of his own suit. I’ve reluctantly moved to believing that a rebid at the three-level should be forcing to game. So an immediate jump to the three-level becomes a good suit with only invitational values.

I held ♠ A-Q-2,  K-J-2,  K-10-4, ♣ K-Q-3-2, and heard my RHO open one spade. Would you elect to double or bid one no-trump? I chose to bid one no-trump, and my partner passed with five diamonds to the ace-jack. However, we could make three no-trump easily enough.

Undercooked, North Bay, Ontario

Your hand is a fraction too strong for your chosen call, especially because your hearts are positionally worth a lot more than 4 high-card points. I’d choose to double and rebid in no-trump to show 18-20, feeling I have plenty in hand. If my RHO had opened one spade, I would surely overcall one no-trump, as so many more of my points are tied up in my heart stoppers.

What defense do you recommend against a weak no-trump? As a parallel thought, what meaning would you assign to a passed hand’s double of a strong no-trump?

Horse Before the Cart, Memphis, Tenn.

While an artificial double of a strong no-trump is perfectly playable, I strongly suggest any defense against a weak no-trump should include a penalty double with a call reserved to show the majors (either two clubs or two diamonds). That means playing Landy or Cappelletti. By a passed hand, you could try using a double as clubs.


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, January 13th, 2018

You don’t play characters that are celebrities — you play guys who know what to do when their septic tank’s blocked.

Matthew McConaughey


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

*Good raise to four spades

♣K

You declare four spades, after your partner has shown restraint in not going past game. It would be a shame to disappoint him by failing to take 10 tricks, wouldn’t it? West cashes the club king and ace, with East discarding a heart on the second club. West continues with the club jack, and East lets go of a second heart. Clearly, there will be 10 easy tricks if spades are 3-2, since you will be able to draw trumps, cash dummy’s diamonds and ruff a club back to hand to cash the diamond jack. The heart ace will be your 10th trick.

But when trumps are 4-1, the diamond blockage may be inconvenient. You could rely on diamonds being 3-3, but there is a much better chance.

Suppose the full deal is along the lines of the one shown here. After ruffing the third club, you cash the trump ace and king to discover that they do indeed break badly. Next you play the queen and nine of trumps, being careful to discard dummy’s heart ace on the second one!

Now after cashing dummy’s three diamond winners, you will lead dummy’s heart three toward your hand. East will take his heart king, but your diamond and heart winners win the last two tricks. In total, you will make five trumps, four diamonds and a heart trick for a total of 10 winners.

Once East is known to hold the heart king from the auction, but to be out of clubs, this line of play basically becomes a sure thing, regardless of the red-suit breaks.


This hand is at the very lower limit for an invitational raise to two no-trump, but I think I’d make that call. Of course, one no-trump is not forcing, but you do have extras, just enough perhaps, to risk the try for game. Yes, a builder in diamonds such as the 10 would be nice, but beggars can’t be choosers.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ A K Q 9 2
 Q 2
 J 7 5 2
♣ Q 5
South West North East
      1
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: Friday, January 12th, 2018

I am the master of my fate; I am the captain of my soul.

William Ernest Henley


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

*Two key-cards and the diamond queen

J

In today’s deal, North and South disagreed about what South’s three-heart rebid might have suggested. Was it good hearts or doubt about the best game? Be that as it may, South’s slam was a particularly unattractive spot; declarer had to assume a very specific lie of the cards even to give himself a chance to come home.

When West led the heart jack against six diamonds, declarer saw there appeared to be a heart and a club loser. He played low from dummy, and if East had risen with the ace, declarer’s problems would have been solved, as North’s second club could have been discarded on the heart queen.

However, when East defended correctly by ducking the first trick, South won with the queen. He appreciated that East was sure to hold the heart ace, since West was unlikely to have underled it against a slam. His best chance was that East also held the club king, in which case he could be the target of an endplay.

So South set about eliminating the pointed suits. He crossed to the spade ace, then ruffed a spade high. A low diamond to the nine was followed by another spade ruff high. Crossing to the dummy in trumps again, he took the spade king, on which he threw a heart.

Now the stage was set to exit with the heart king, endplaying East. He was forced either to present declarer with a ruff-sluff, whereupon dummy’s second club could be discarded, or to play a club, allowing dummy’s queen to score.


Your partner’s rebid shows a balanced hand with or without a four-card major. You want to play no-trump if facing a spade stopper, but wouldn’t it be nice to get across the nature of your hand (club support and singleton spade) in one go? You can: Jump to three spades — a splinter-bid since two spades would be natural and forcing — to give partner the choice of playing in either minor or no-trump.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ 7
 Q 6 3
 A Q 10 8 2
♣ A 8 4 2
South West North East
    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.