Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, April 3, 2009



Vul: E/W

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

Opening Lead: 3

“Being fooled, by foolery thrive;

There’s place and means for every man alive.”

— William Shakespeare

The jury is still out on whether you can be a champion if you focus solely on playing well, as opposed to making your opponents play badly. Whatever the case, learning the basic elements of deception cannot be a bad idea. Witness today’s deal, from the recently published “25 Ways to Be a Better Defender” by Barbara Seagram and David Bird.

West leads the club three against three no-trump, and declarer’s cause looks hopeless. But say South takes the first trick and cashes the spade king and ace, then plays the diamond queen.

If East believes that declarer has a doubleton ace-king of spades, he will duck, to keep declarer out of dummy, and South will run for home having stolen his ninth trick. Note that ducking might well be right if declarer had a 2-4-4-3 shape with two club stops. So West must tell East he has two spades by echoing in that suit. Then East can suspect the ruse and win the first diamond to cash out.

Since we are trying to take a fair and balanced approach, note that on a different day, if West had 10-fourth of spades, he might be reluctant to echo in spades. This would be in case declarer had king-third of spades, and worked out to finesse on the third round of the suit. In reality one cannot make an omelet without breaking the odd egg or two. If West’s spades are better (or worse), the echo will surely not cost.

ANSWER: How painful can it be to bid one spade here? After all, your partner asked you to bid. Although you do not exactly have a monster, you do have four spades and six more points than you might. Yes, you are at the bottom of your range, but the safest time to come into this auction is right now and not later.


South Holds:

Q J 9 6
8 5 3
K 6 4
9 7 5
South West North East
1 Dbl. 1

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.