Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Saturday, March 21, 2009

Dealer: West

Vul: Both

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

Opening Lead: 8

“’Tis a lucky day, boy, and we’ll do good deeds on’t.”

— William Shakespeare

Today’s deal comes from the finals of the Vanderbilt, in which an all-Polish international squad defeated a team that included Marcin Lesniewski, a former player for Poland.

In the other room, Lesniweski’s partner (South), after learning he was facing a singleton heart and five diamonds, drove to six diamonds. That contract, given the worst possible heart and diamond holdings in dummy, had almost no chance and had duly gone down.

But in a sense I think Poland deserved their good fortune here. As North, Krzysztof Martens found out about South’s good hearts via South’s use of fourth suit to set up a game-force, then his bidding hearts facing known shortage, which showed a suit at least this good.

So Marten took control to drive to the heart slam. Before you look at declarer’s line, note that there are 11 top tricks (three clubs two spades one diamond and five hearts). Where should the 12th come from?

Declarer, Krysztof Jassem, won the club lead and knocked out the heart ace; West could do little but play back a club. Now, rather than rely on the diamond or spade finesse, Jassem played the ace and king of spades, ruffed the third spade in hand, and drew trumps. Had the spade queen fallen, he would have been home. As it was, he could go back to dummy in clubs and take the diamond finesse to bring home the slam.

ANSWER: This auction asks you to bid no-trump with a heart stop or make another descriptive call. Since you have a heart stop, do as you are asked and bid two no-trump. Your partner rates to have long diamonds and a good hand and is exploring whether to play no-trump or diamonds. If he has some other hand-type, you will soon hear him describe it.


South Holds:

Q 10 9 8
A 8 4
6 2
8 7 5 3
West North East South
1 1 Dbl.
Pass 2 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.