We love all of those aces and shortages
Eddie Rickenbacker said, “The obviously inexperienced pilot is the game the scientific air-fighter goes after, and the majority of victories are won that way. But, on the other hand, it is the novice usually who gets the famous ace by doing at some moment the unexpected thing.” Rickenbacker must have avoided those novices during World War I. At the bridge table, we love not only aces but also well-placed shortages. Look at today’s North hand. Partner opens one diamond, and the next player makes a takeout double. How would you plan the auction? To be honest, it isn’t clear-cut what to do. You might bid one heart, but a 4-4 fit there is unlikely. My favorite choice is a three-spade splinter bid, to show a singleton or void in spades, four or more diamonds and at least game-forcing values (which makes it a slight overbid). An alternative is two no-trump, Truscott, promising four-card or longer diamond support and at least game-invitational values. Or you could redouble, indicating 10plus high-card points. After the splinter bid, South should love his hand with all of those aces and the fifth trump. He should control-bid four clubs to suggest a slam, but hopefully the auction would end in five diamonds. How should declarer plan the play after the spade-king lead? South should see five possible losers: three spades, one heart and one diamond. He can eliminate the spade losers by ruffing them on the board. The play should go: spade ace, spade ruff, club to the ace, spade ruff, club king, club ruff in hand, spade ruff with the diamond king, diamond ace, heart to the ace, diamond jack. Declarer loses only two tricks.