Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, June 16th, 2019

I’m looking for a way to watch expert players so I can improve my own game. I’m currently far from home, a student in the Pacific Northwest, so I’m not sure how many strong events there may be in the vicinity.

Watch Dog, Selma, Ala.

If you don’t mind watching on the internet, you can see top-level bridge on Bridge Base Online (now allied with Funbridge) almost every day. And there is live commentary from the major championships all around the world. Try BBO at www.bridgebase.org for more details.

If you open ♠ Q-10-5-3,  A-K-7-4-3,  K-6, ♣ 9-3, I imagine you bid one heart and will hear your partner respond with a forcing no-trump. What is the least lie now?

Okey Dokey, Ponca City, Okla.

If someone advised you to pass and apologize to your partner when you’re wrong, I’d understand — since that’s what I’d do. Make the diamond king the ace, so that you have enough to accept a limit raise, and now it becomes much harder. Inventing a two-club rebid might work out best, but there are no guarantees.

On a recent deal, you have South opening one spade when holding six solid spades and jack-third in hearts. It seems to me that the hand is a bit shy of honor tricks. I usually expect at least two honor tricks or close to 13 high-card points. So why not open two spades here?

Jack Robinson, Newark, Calif.

The solid spades and that distracting random extra jack in the side-suit fragment would be enough to tempt me to open one spade anywhere but second seat vulnerable … and maybe even then!

I’m confused about how many bids one should take with a strong hand after doubling a pre-empt. You hear three clubs on your left and, with ♠ K-3-2,  A-Q-8-2,  K-Q-4-2, ♣ K-4, you double. When your partner responds with three spades, should you raise to game or pass?

Haircut 100, Fayetteville, N.C.

You have extras and a club stopper, but only three-card support for your partner. That suggests that if you do make a call, it would be three no-trump. But do you have enough for that? I’d say no — your partner should have 4-5 points on average, since he surely won’t have more than 9 points for a minimum action.

Recently, I held ♠ Q-9-2,  A-2,  K-Q-7-4 ♣ J-6-3-2, and I heard an opening bid of one heart on my right. I did not double, because I only had three spades, but was I then supposed to balance after my left-hand opponent bid a forcing no-trump, then corrected two clubs to two hearts?

Second Stain, Galveston, Texas

Bidding on the first round is not only safer, but better. (Doubling suggests short hearts, not an absolute guarantee of length in the other major.) But if you do pass initially, you really do not know that the opponents have a fit. Your left-hand opponent probably has only a doubleton heart at least as often as he has three. Once you have passed initially, is it better to stay silent.


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, June 15th, 2019

It has long been an axiom of mine that the little things are infinitely the most important.

Sherlock Holmes


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

K

When this hand arose in the European Championships in the 1950s, the British declarer did well to play five diamonds rather than three no-trump. The defense cashed two rounds of hearts and played a club.

Naturally, declarer took this and led a top trump, on which West played the eight and East the three; then declarer took both top spades. When he led the diamond jack, West followed suit. Now South had to decide whether to play for spades to split and diamonds not to behave (when the right play would be to duck in dummy and draw a third round of trumps), or for the diamonds to be 2-2 and spades to be 4-2 (in which case South should overtake the second trump and would then be able to ruff out the spades).

Spades are slightly favored to break. But how likely is it that diamonds break? Imagine West has the diamond 10-9-8 and East the three, compared to that suit splitting 2-2? In abstract, the individual singleton is less likely than any individual 2-2 split, but in addition there are three doubleton honor-pairs where West must follow with his two cards at his first opportunity, and East similarly has to play his three at his first chance, lest you overtake on the second round with impunity.

So it is clearly right to play to overtake the second diamond, as that suit is much more likely to split than spades. The fact that this was the winning line does not prove anything, but at least virtue was rewarded.



Start by doubling, planning to convert a response in a black suit to four diamonds. There is no need to drive the hand to game; even the four-level is certainly not guaranteed, facing a weak hand. And who knows? Your partner may be able to commit to a better contract than diamonds, or get you to slam.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ A K
 J 2
 A K J 6 5 2
♣ A 6 3
South West North East
  2 Pass 3
?      

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, June 14th, 2019

There are two possible outcomes: If the result confirms the hypothesis, then you’ve made a measurement. If the result is contrary to the hypothesis, then you’ve made a discovery.

Enrico Fermi


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

(!)

All our deals this week have focused on the principle of Restricted Choice; but this concept cannot be considered purely in abstract, as today’s deal from the later stages of a Vanderbilt Trophy match shows.

Declaring four spades, your chances do not seem so great on a devious low diamond lead, but when the diamond king holds the first trick, things look up. Draw two rounds of trumps, ending in hand, and lead a heart to the jack and king. Now East cashes the diamond queen and returns the heart 10, on which West unblocks the queen.

You ruff the last heart in hand, cross to dummy in trumps, and lead a low club, intending to put in the seven. Naturally, East thwarts you by playing the nine, so you try the queen, losing to the king. When West returns a low club, what should you do?

If you have been following this week’s theme, you may conclude that Restricted Choice suggests playing low. The logic for that would be that East is more likely to have J-8-x or J-9-x than 9-8-x. However, there is a much sounder argument for putting in the six, if you remember the earlier play. East can be assumed to be a true expert player; with three low clubs, as opposed to jack-third, he would not have defended this way when on lead earlier in the hand. He would have shifted to a club rather than returning a heart, to break up the impending endplay.



Is your hand worth a try for game? That isn’t clear, but you do not know whether game your way or their way will be playable. Much may depend on the nature of the double-fit, if any. If partner has diamond or heart values, you will want to defend; with black-suit values, you will want to declare the hand. So bid three clubs, perhaps a slight overbid, to help partner decide how far to compete.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ A K J 7 2
 8 4
 6 3
♣ A Q 7 4
South West North East
1 ♠ 2 2 ♠ Dbl.
?      

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, June 13th, 2019

If we shall deal falsely with our God in this work we have undertaken and so cause him to withdraw his present help from us, we shall be made a story and a byword through the world.

John Winthrop


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

*Texas transfer for hearts

J

The Monty Hall problem arose on “Let’s Make a Deal.” The contestant was presented with three doors; behind one was a car, and behind the other two were goats. The contestant selected a door, then the quizmaster opened a different door to reveal a goat. Now should the contestant change his selection to the third door or stick with his original choice?

Interestingly, the contestant doubles his odds by switching his choice. He’d turn his car into a goat only if he had correctly selected the car with his first pick — a 1-in-3 chance. But he would win the car if he had originally picked either of the two goats — a 2-in-3 chance. The reason comes back to Restricted Choice; in each of the latter two cases, the host had only one goat left to reveal. However, if the first pick was the car, the host had a choice of goats to show you.

The biggest caveat for Restricted Choice comes when a player contributes a significant honor or spot-card where that play is not forced. Consider today’s slam, where when declarer cashes the heart king, he sees the 10 fall from East. The singleton 10 might seem more likely than J-10 doubleton, since we must reduce the chance of the latter by half — because East might have followed with the jack from that holding.

That is true, but East wasn’t forced to play the 10 from J-10-7, his actual holding in the diagram. Maybe only an expert would be capable of that false-card, but that is a completely different issue.



Fourth suit forcing sets up a game force. There is no need to jump to three hearts to show the sixth heart. That call should be reserved for a better suit than this. Simply bid two hearts here; this doesn’t guarantee a sixth heart, but it leaves more space for your partner to describe why he forced to game.

BID WITH THE ACES

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

The Aces on Bridge: Wednesday, June 12th, 2019

There is little friendship in the world, and least of all between equals.

Francis Bacon


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

J

This week we are addressing the thorny problem of Restricted Choice in bridge. This dictum says that if (and only if) a player had a choice of equal cards to play, then the probability that he had one of those cards singleton should be compared to half the probability that he had both of those cards — because with the doubleton he might have played the other card. Granted, this does assume that he was equally likely to play the queen or jack from queen-jack doubleton, but unless you know to the contrary, you should indeed assume that.

A deal may make the point more clearly than words. Declaring four hearts, you win the diamond lead for fear of a club shift, after which the defenders might maneuver a ruff. You cash the heart ace, dropping the 10 from East. Should you now lead a heart to the nine or to the queen?

As indicated above, it is correct to play East for the doubleton K-10 rather than for the J-10 doubleton. That is because, with the former holding, he had no choice but to play the 10 at his first turn, whereas with the J-10 doubleton he might have played either of those cards. Thus, one should not compare the initial probabilities of each doubleton holding, which are equally likely, but instead assume that the K-10 is twice as likely as J-10 doubleton.

How does that relate to the Monty Hall problem? We will find out tomorrow.



Despite your heart support, it may be wrong to raise hearts directly. Your partner could be worried that the opponents have a spade fit. On the other hand, responding one spade may not work well if you finish up there instead of in hearts. Still, I would bid one spade, expecting to be able to raise hearts at my next turn (assuming I get another one).

BID WITH THE ACES

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

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, June 11th, 2019

Everything should be made as simple as possible, but no simpler.

Albert Einstein


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

♠Q

Yesterday, we mentioned Occam’s Razor, a hypothesis dating from medieval times. It states that when comparing two explanations, one should assume the truth of the one with the fewer assumptions. This applies to bridge in the form of the Theory of Restricted Choice — and, as we shall see later this week, to what is popularly known as the Monty Hall Problem.

In bridge terms, when comparing two possibilities, we must reduce the probability of an event if a player had previously had a choice of equals to play; this is because he might have played either of them at that turn. But enough theory — let’s look at a deal and see how it works in practice.

In three no-trump, you win the spade lead and drive out the heart ace, then win the spade return and cash the hearts, both defenders pitching small diamonds. With no clue as to who has the fifth spade, you need to bring in the clubs now.

You cash the club ace, then cross to the club queen, bringing down the 10 from West. Should you finesse or play for the drop on the third round? The appropriate percentages to measure up are jack-fourth or 10-fourth of clubs in East against J-10-x in West. You should not look at just the chance of jack-fourth against J-10-x (where the odds would be very close), because West would have had a choice of high spot-cards to play from that holding at his second turn. That makes the finesse the clearly indicated play.



You have just enough to bid two diamonds, an Unassuming Cue Bid to show club support and a better hand than a simple raise. This should get you to hearts or no-trump if that is appropriate, and you plan to bid three clubs over a two-spade rebid.

BID WITH THE ACES

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

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, June 10th, 2019

A man who shaves and takes a train
And then rides back to shave again.

E. B. White


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

J

Sixty years ago, Terence Reese produced his seminal work, “The Expert Game,” published in the U.S. as “Master Play.” This book introduced a variety of plays that are now part of every top player’s armory. And the most important idea that the book promulgated was the Theory of Restricted Choice.

This theory borrows from William of Occam, who invented Occam’s Razor. This states that when faced with a choice of competing hypotheses, one should select the simpler option.

How does this apply in bridge terms? Consider today’s deal, where against your contract of five clubs, West leads the heart jack. East takes his ace and returns the suit, letting you ruff. How should you play the trump suit?

Clearly, East is more likely to be short in clubs than West, not only because East has the long hearts, but also because if East had three clubs, he might have been able to shift to a singleton in spades or diamonds at trick two. So lead out the club king; when East follows with the jack, you play a second trump, West following with two small cards, leaving you to decide whether to finesse or play for the drop.

The percentages here might be misleading: A singleton jack is less likely than the doubleton queen-jack, but if East had doubleton honors, he might have followed with either card. So the true percentages to compare are the singleton honor against half the percentage associated with Q-J doubleton. Playing for the finesse is therefore clearly right.



With every lead looking unattractive, especially a heart, you can use a pin to pick one. You might try to lead up to declarer’s weakness by trying a diamond (maybe a deceptive seven), but with that suit likely to set declarer up for some discards, I think I would try the spade five.

LEAD WITH THE ACES

♠ Q 10 5
 J 9 6 3
 Q 7 6
♣ K 7 4
South West North East
      1 ♣
Pass 1 Pass 1
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 2019. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact reprints@unitedmedia.com.

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, June 9th, 2019

I assume you would open one club, planning to rebid one no-trump over any one-level response, with ♠ K-J-9,  10-2,  Q-8-4, ♣ A-Q-10-7-4. That was what I did. I heard one heart on my left and a negative double from partner. Now I had to guess what to do.

Seconds Out, Riverside, Calif.

I agree with opening one club, though I’d be planning to raise spades, not rebid at no-trump. After the negative double, the choice is simple. Do you bid spades or clubs, since one no-trump is completely inappropriate with this holding? It is a little-known secret that a one-spade call is consistent with a three-card suit. With four and any form of extras, I’d expect a jump to two spades — equivalent to raising partner’s known spade suit. So one spade is my choice.

Recently, you offered up as opener this hand: ♠ Q-J-6-2,  5-2,  A-Q-10-8-7-4, ♣ 6. You indicated that these spades were too good for a diamond pre-empt; but if you won’t pre-empt, what will you do?

Edison Lighthouse, Miami, Fla.

I would pass and assume someone would open, then I would hope to find spades if necessary or settle in diamonds. I would not open one diamond, however; this hand just isn’t worth that action. Make the spade queen the 10 (or any smaller card), and I’d be much more tempted to preempt.

At a recent nationals, I played in a regional pairs game and held ♠ K-3,  A,  K-J-2, ♣ K-Q-9-7-4-3-2. I opened one club and heard two diamonds on the left, two spades from my partner. What would you do next, assuming a rebid of three clubs is not forcing?

Explorer’s Club, Newark, N.J.

This hand has huge potential if we have a fit. You cannot afford to jump to four clubs by passing three no-trump, but bidding no-trump yourself may be premature. All that seems to leave is a waffling cue-bid, but a delayed three no-trump call over a heart bid from your partner might be the best you can do.

At a club duplicate, I was faced with a reopening problem. I held a great deal of extra shape but not much in the way of high cards. I had ♠ K-Q-10-3-2,  J-2,  Q, ♣ K-Q-9-7-4, and my right-hand opponent passed. I opened one spade, and my left-hand opponent bid two diamonds, passed back to me. What should I bid now?

Protective Order, Mason City, Iowa.

With shortage in left-hand opponent’s suit, it is normal is to reopen with a double — unless you’d remove your partner’s penalty double. Here, with no aces, I might not settle for a double. But if I do double and correct two hearts to a black suit, that shows real extras, not this hand. Should I pass, hoping it is the opponents’ hand, or double and cross my fingers, or even bid three clubs? Each call is reasonable, but I might need to use my table presence to try to work out which is best.

Some of the bridge books I have read, and even some of the players in my rubber game, set 13 HCP as the minimum for an opening. Twelve HCP are acceptable only with significant extra shape. Do you believe all 12-point hands qualify for an opening bid?

Dangerous Dan, Saint John’s, Newfoundland

A 12-count with a five-card suit or two four-card suits will normally qualify as an opening. It is logical for the minimum rebid in no-trump to show 12-14 (a 2-point range would be unnecessarily constraining) in the context of your one no-trump opening promising 15-17. If you still play a 16-18 no-trump, you might play your rebid to be 13-15. But since bidding is fun, I suggest you 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, June 8th, 2019

Nothing in progression can rest on its original plan.

Edmund Burke


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

10

Declarer might easily have relaxed in six no-trump here when West led the heart 10. There were 11 top tricks, with 13 tricks available on a 3-2 spade break, and 12 tricks even on a 4-1 break.

But declarer carefully won the first trick with the heart ace, then carefully cashed the club ace-king followed by the heart king. It was only then that he led a low spade to dummy’s queen. West’s discard turned a potential 13 tricks into 11.

South continued with a low diamond from the table and took the jack with the king, then ran the diamond 10 to East’s queen. East exited with the spade jack, taken by dummy’s ace. Now declarer cashed the diamond ace, pitching the heart queen from hand. He followed up with the heart jack and discarded the club queen from hand, bringing everyone down to three cards.

East was reduced to the spade 10-9 and the diamond nine, and when declarer called for dummy’s club jack, East had no winning discard. He threw the diamond nine, and now dummy’s eight was high.

If East had followed low to the first diamond, declarer would have put in the 10. Had this lost to West, then on any return, declarer would have cashed the heart, diamond and club winners, then played a spade to the ace to cash the diamond ace. This would execute a simple spade-diamond squeeze whenever East had started with four diamonds. It would also work fine when East had begun with at most three diamonds including the nine and at least one diamond honor.



This is one of the few auctions in which responder can produce a penalty double at his first turn to speak. You may not think you have any extra values, but that isn’t the point. Your partner didn’t consult you; while you might remove a double with a lot of extra shape and no defense, that isn’t what you have here, so pass.

BID WITH THE ACES

♠ A Q 3
 J 6 5
 A 8 4 2
♣ J 5 2
South West North East
1 1 NT 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, June 7th, 2019

Although our intellect always longs for clarity and certainty, our nature often finds uncertainty fascinating.

Carl von Clausewitz


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

♣8

Liam Milne was able to report a fine play by Barbara Travis from the semifinals of this year’s Australian Women’s Playoff. Travis declared six spades on the friendly lead of the club eight to the jack and queen.

If clubs behaved, 12 tricks would be easy; but West’s decision to lead a club instead of a heart argued strongly that the lead was from shortage — and that West must not have the heart ace, or a club lead would be almost pointless.

With the general idea of playing East for the heart ace, Travis ruffed a diamond in the short trump hand, then drew four rounds of trumps. When West followed all the way, she provided additional weight to the theory of club shortness in that hand. Dummy discarded a heart and a club, while East discarded a low heart, a low club and the diamond jack.

Travis now played the last trump and the diamond king, coming down to three clubs and the bare heart king in dummy. East, holding the doubleton heart ace and three clubs, had no choice but to come down to the bare heart ace. Trusting her judgment, Travis cashed the club 10 before exiting with a heart. East had to win and, with only clubs left, was forced to bring dummy back to life. From declarer’s perspective, the only thing that could have made this hand any more spectacular would have been if both heart honors were off-side!

In the Seniors, Open and Women’s events, most declarers who received a club lead reduced themselves to guessing hearts — and not all of them did so correctly.



If you want to force to game, you should respond two clubs and bid hearts later. But this hand is clearly not worth that action; you should instead respond one heart and take it from there, planning to invite game in no-trump after partner rebids in spades or diamonds. Only a heart raise would make your hand worth a force to game.

BID WITH THE ACES

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