ACES ON BRIDGE

Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - STYLE - If you would like to con­tact Bobby Wolff, email him at bob­by­wolff@mind­spring.com

Wash your mind out with soap and wa­ter if you even thought of open­ing to­day’s North hand one no-trump.Af­ter North opens one di­a­mond and jumps to three di­a­monds, South has to de­cide be­tween pass­ing and try­ing for the no-trump game. He has only an 8-count, but the di­a­mond jack may be use­ful in es­tab­lish­ing the di­a­monds. It seems right to me to take a shot at three no-trump.

Now let’s switch to the de­fend­ers: As West, would you con­sider lead­ing the club queen? It is cer­tainly the right suit to lead, but the queen is un­ques­tion­ably the wrong card. The most likely way to beat the hand is by finding part­ner with a top honor in clubs, but if that is so, it must be right to lead a small club. It may be nec­es­sary to un­block the suit in sev­eral sce­nar­ios — for ex­am­ple, if part­ner has the dou­ble­ton ace, king or 10 of clubs.

Now let’s switch back to de­clarer’s seat. When West leads a small club, which club should you play from dummy at trick one?

If the clubs are 4-3, your play will be ir­rel­e­vant; but the clubs pose no dan­ger, since there are only three tricks for the de­fend­ers to cash. If the clubs are 5-2 with East hav­ing a sig­nif­i­cant dou­ble­ton dou­ble honor, you must play the ace to block the clubs. Try it out, and you will see that it works. You win the club ace and drive out the di­a­mond ace, and the de­fend­ers can­not run clubs whether East un­blocked his club king at trick one or not.

AN­SWER:

De­clarer should be 4-5 in the black suits, and dummy will be weak with four spades. Since a trump lead would likely cost a trick (and part­ner might be over­ruff­ing clubs any­way), the real is­sue is whether to lead the di­a­mond ace and con­tinue the suit, try­ing to force de­clarer, or lead a heart. I vote for the lat­ter.

— Nathaniel Lee

When the sun sets, shad­ows, that show’d at noon But small, ap­pear most long and ter­ri­ble.

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