aces on bridge

Edmonton Journal - - FEATURES - bobby wolff

“Where a tech­nique tells you ‘how’ and a phi­los­o­phy tells you ‘what,’ a method­ol­ogy will con­tain el­e­ments of both ‘what’ and ‘how.’”

— Peter Check­land

The ba­sic arts of de­clarer play con­sist, as a friend of mine once said, of draw­ing trumps, tak­ing fi­nesses and cash­ing win­ners. But there is also a place for squeezeplay and other, more chal­leng­ing arts. To­day’s deal in­volves both sim­ple and com­plex skills.

You reach six no-trump and re­ceive the lead of the di­a­mond 10, which you win in hand. De­spite your com­bined 33 high-card points, slam is a fairly dicey af­fair, thanks to the du­pli­ca­tion and wasted val­ues in di­a­monds.

At trick two, you try a heart to the queen, hop­ing that it will lose to the ace. It does, and East re­turns a pas­sive di­a­mond. How should you plan the play from here on in?

No mat­ter how you in­tend to man­age the play out­side clubs, you should plan on the club fi­nesse work­ing. You must win the sec­ond di­a­mond in hand, cash the club ace — to pro­tect against West hav­ing the sin­gle­ton queen — and must then take the spade ace and queen, fol­lowed by the heart king and jack. At that point, you will cross to ta­ble with a di­a­mond.

Next, you take the spade king, throw­ing a club from hand. If the spade jack has fallen, you cash the last spade win­ner and take the club fi­nesse. If East has kept the spade jack, he must have re­duced to two clubs. So now the clubs will pro­duce four tricks, thanks to the club fi­nesse.

Note that if East ducks the first two hearts, he will be caught in a triple squeeze and be forced to con­cede the over­trick!

AN­SWER: While this may look like a dead min­i­mum for a jump to two spades, that is clearly the right call. Your hand im­proved dra­mat­i­cally when your part­ner sug­gested rel­a­tive short­ness in clubs, mean­ing that all your hon­ors are work­ing over­time. Had your left-hand op­po­nent opened a red suit, it would be less clear that jump­ing to two spades is the right call — though you might do it any­way.

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