ACES ON BRIDGE
“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).