Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Dealer: North

Vul: E/W

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

*Diamonds and a major

Opening Lead: A

“There are some frauds so well conducted that it would be stupidity not to be deceived by them.”

— Charles Caleb Colton

I rarely report deals that have no technical merit, but today’s deal, from the Detroit Nationals last spring, is an exception that you might find amusing. It centers on a psychic bid, a deliberate attempt to misstate high cards and distribution. It is a perfectly legitimate tactic so long as your partner has no reason to be able to work it out better than the opponents.

East and West are top experts who lost the finals of the Trials to play in the World Championships this summer. South, a writer whose sense of humor sometimes gets the better of him, was playing in a very occasional partnership.

South claimed that when he looked at the opponents’ convention card, he noted that they were not playing penalty doubles of one no-trump. So, in third seat, he experimented with opening a strong no-trump, and the auction ended in three no-trump. (Four hearts would have been the best spot for East-West.)

West led the diamond ace and naturally shifted to the heart king. South (who has an outsize and somewhat inappropriate sense of humor) said afterwards that he wished he had had enough nerve to duck, just to irritate his opponents even more. But at the table, he was unable to find a reason to do anything but win the heart ace and cash eight more tricks in clubs. Plus 400 was enough to keep him happy for the rest of the evening — maybe the rest of the tournament.

ANSWER: This auction suggests partner is worried about playing in three no-trump. Your hand confirms that that worry may be justified, but you are enormously suitable for game or slam in diamonds. Cuebid four hearts to show the ace and let partner tell you whether he wants to play in game or in slam.


South Holds:

9 8 5
A 6 5 4
J 10 9 5
A 4
West North East South
1 1 1NT
Pass 2 Pass 3
Pass 3 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.


LindaApril 1st, 2009 at 3:01 pm

What a lovely result from the pysche. I was trying to think of the actions that East-West could have made to get a better result. Probably East needed to show some values at some point but it all seems sort of logical.

JudyApril 1st, 2009 at 4:46 pm

Although I’ve never seen this hand before, it may rank right up there as one of the greatest heists in the

history of our beloved game!