ACES ON BRIDGE

Montreal Gazette - - FEATURES - BOBBY WOLFF

“Govern­ment and co­op­er­a­tion are in all things ... the laws of life. An­ar­chy and com­pe­ti­tion ... the laws of death.” — John Ruskin

The de­ci­sion of when to use Black­wood re­quires judg­ment, but the re­sponses are rel­a­tively hard to mess up. By con­trast, a cue-bid­ding auc­tion re­quires judg­ment from both sides of the ta­ble, so both play­ers need to be in har­mony. To­day’s deal shows cue­bid­ding re­sult­ing in an al­most hope­less con­tract. When South showed slam in­ter­est and short spades, North co­op­er­ated by show­ing his club con­trol. Now South drove to slam, hop­ing that he would buy a sub­sidiary di­a­mond honor in dummy.

Can you see what mea­ger chance South was able to ex­ploit to bring home his slam? De­clarer won the spade queen with dummy’s ace and ruffed a spade, then crossed to the club king and ruffed an­other spade, bring­ing down the king. Now he cashed his clubs to dis­card dummy’s spade loser, and played the heart ace, bring­ing down West’s nine.

Had trumps turned out to be 2-2, de­clarer might next have played the ace and an­other di­a­mond, try­ing to end­play West. But the fall of the heart nine al­lowed de­clarer to cross to the heart eight and then to re­con­struct West’s hand. Since that player had turned up with one trump, he was far more likely to have three di­a­monds than two, be­cause he had not made a Michaels cue-bid. So South led a low di­a­mond from dummy, cover­ing East’s card. That forced West to win one of his hon­ors, af­ter which he was end­played to re­turn a di­a­mond to South’s jack, or else con­cede a ruf­fand-dis­card for the 12th trick.

AN­SWER: It would be sim­ple to drive to four spades at once, but if part­ner has raised with three trumps, this might be pre­ma­ture. Your hand may be a lit­tle too good for a non­forc­ing call of two no-trump (though some play this as a forc­ing in­quiry about shape and range — in which case it would be per­fect). But to my mind, your lack of in­ter­me­di­ates makes the two-no-trump call your most ac­cu­rate way for­ward.

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