ACES ON BRIDGE
No person was ever honored for what he received. Honor has been the reward for what he gave.
— Calvin Coolidge I normally like to use deals where virtue is rewarded and carelessness punished. That is the case, in a way, with today’s deal; however, although it came close to deciding an international match, it did not quite do so. The margin of the match was just one international match point in favor of the team who failed to bring home game here. So you could argue that at a different vulnerability, the unsuccessful declarer might not have slept well that night.
At the unsuccessful declarer’s table, the heart nine was covered by the 10 and ace. South took the losing diamond finesse, and East shifted to the spade six, second highest, denying a decent suit. When declarer won in hand and crossed to the diamond ace to pass the club jack, West lost no time in winning and playing back the heart eight, and now the defenders had five winners.
In the other room, when the heart nine was led, declarer correctly ducked in dummy. He won his heart ace and led the diamond queen for the finesse. East won and played back a spade, just as in the other room.
But South made no mistake when he won with the spade ace, then played the club ace and another club. West could win and play the heart eight through dummy, but when dummy covered with the 10, the contract was safe.
South had one heart, four clubs and two tricks in each of the other suits — nine in total. ANSWER: Your partner’s raise here is a serious game try. I’d expect a hand with at least an ace more than an opening bid. Yes, you would rather have a fifth heart or a little more shape in the minors, but I think you have enough to bid on to game if you trust your partner. If partner had raised in competition, it would not carry the same guarantee of extras.