ACES ON BRIDGE

Edmonton Journal - - WORLD - bobby wolff

To­day’s deal saw you show a strong, bal­anced hand, af­ter which North im­pul­sively leapt to slam, de­cid­ing he would be fac­ing a very strong hand rel­a­tively short in hearts.

Af­ter the lead of the spade nine, where are your 12 win­ners? If trumps are 2-1, you have 11 top tricks, in the form of eight trump tricks (draw two rounds and take the re­main­ing six trumps sep­a­rately) and three red­suit win­ners. Nor­mally, in th­ese po­si­tions, you can gen­er­ate an ex­tra trick by dis­card­ing on the open­ing lead and build­ing a trick for the spade king — not this time, as you will see. What­ever you pitch from dummy, there is no sure route to 12 tricks.

Cu­ri­ously, though, as long as trumps be­have, you do not even need East to have the seven spades he promised to be able to guar­an­tee your con­tract. Ruff the spade, come to hand with a trump and ruff a sec­ond spade, then come back to hand in trumps again, and ruff a third spade.

Now you lead a heart from dummy, in­tend­ing to fi­nesse the eight if East plays low, or to cover the nine or 10 with the jack.

West will be able to win cheaply, but can only lead into one of the red tenaces. That ex­tra trick al­lows you to make the re­main­der in the form of top tricks, plus tak­ing your trumps sep­a­rately.

If the op­po­nents had not bid, your first heart play would be low to the jack. You would ruff the spade re­turn, cash hearts from the top and fall back on the di­a­mond fi­nesse, if nec­es­sary.

AN­SWER: De­spite the fact that you have longer diamonds than hearts, I would re­spond in hearts ini­tially. My plan would be to com­pete in diamonds if the op­po­nents bid on in a black suit. If you re­spond in diamonds, you may find your­self ob­li­gated to bid hearts on your next turn. In­ci­den­tally, by bid­ding a ma­jor be­fore a mi­nor, you sug­gest this sort of canape shape.

“I could be mighty fool­ish, and fancy my­self mighty witty; Rea­son still keeps its throne, but it nods a lit­tle, that’s all.” — Ge­orge Far­quhar

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