ACES ON BRIDGE

Vancouver Sun - - FEATURES - BOBBY WOLFF

“I never metaphor I didn’t like.”

— Mardy Grothe

Today’s deal comes from one of my read­ers, Jeff Aker of Bri­ar­cliff Manor, New York. It cropped up in the Open U.S. Tri­als this spring.

The auc­tion at the ta­ble was dif­fer­ent from what is shown here. In real life, North had opened a pre­ci­sion di­a­mond and had shown a three-card club raise with a sin­gle­ton ma­jor, but the fi­nal con­tract was as in­di­cated. Plan the play af­ter a low spade lead from West goes to dummy’s ace.

The con­tract will be easy to make if clubs break 3-2. What is the best way to pro­tect your­self against the 10 pos­si­ble 4-1 breaks? (East can have one of any five sin­gle­tons, or West can have one of any five sin­gle­tons.)

If you fi­nesse the club jack, then, as the cards lie, West will win and play back a spade, and you will go down.

Lead­ing the club queen from dummy cov­ers some of the bases, but not enough, and it will not suc­ceed today.

The key to the play is that the hand is about more than the club suit. If you can score two club tricks with­out los­ing the lead, you can switch your at­tack to hearts and come to three heart tricks and two in each of the other suits. Re­al­iz­ing this, Aker played a club to his ace fol­lowed by a club to the queen, and could then shift his at­ten­tion to hearts when clubs failed to be­have.

This line takes care of all 4-1 clubs ex­cept the sin­gle­ton four or five with West.

AN­SWER: It was very nice of your RHO to take you off the hook here. Had he passed, you would have been forced to re­bid one no-trump, since this is the clos­est ap­prox­i­ma­tion — or least lie — to de­scribe what you have. But now you can pass and await de­vel­op­ments with­out hav­ing to dis­tort your hand. Re­dou­ble here would show a bet­ter hand than this, by the way (or three trumps if play­ing sup­port dou­bles).

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