Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Dealer: South

Vul: E/W

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

Opening Lead: 4

“Some people fear gaining fame the way pigs fear gaining weight.”

— Chinese proverb

Let’s look at the three little pigs at work on defense, from the qualifying session of the Life Master Pairs in Detroit. In one no-trump, the lead of the diamond four goes to East’s king, South playing the two.

Little pig number one played the diamond ace and another diamond. When West shifted to the club king, it was allowed to hold. Declarer ended up with seven tricks and a near top.

Little pig number two shifts boldly to a club to West’s 10. West takes his club king (South ducking again), then returns his lowest diamond. Now another club from East through South’s tenace produces plus 100 for the defense. North-South would score a near-bottom now.

But what if declarer had begun life with the heart king and the three top clubs? This line of defense would concede the contract, when a spade shift would have defeated it easily. How can you know which way to go?

Little pig number three goes for a middle-of-the-road defense. At trick two, he returns a low diamond to the queen and waits for his partner’s suit preference from the remaining two diamonds. He will shift to a club to ensure that his side defeats the contract by at least one trick, which will score well enough for his side.

At teams, this last defense is best, but at pairs, number two’s defense has the biggest upside. Moreover, if partner has K-Q-x or K-J-x of clubs, East must play clubs through declarer twice to defeat the contract.

ANSWER: This is an unambiguous penalty double by your partner (suggesting four diamonds, and no fit for clubs) because a pass would be forcing. Without intervention, you would have played in four hearts; but the risk of bad trump splits and diamond ruffs now argues strongly for defending two diamonds. Take the sure plus; you may get more than the value of your game — and your game might not be making!


South Holds:

A 5 2
K 6 5
10 6 2
A J 7 2
West North East South
1 Pass 2
2 Dbl. Pass ?

If you would like to contact Bobby Wolff, feel free to leave a comment at this blog. Reproduced with permission of United Feature Syndicate, Inc., Copyright 2009.