ACES ON BRIDGE

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

An avoid­ance play re­lates to a po­si­tion where it is im­por­tant to keep one par­tic­u­lar op­po­nent off lead — be­cause they have win­ners to cash or can make a killing shift, while the other hand poses no such threat.

Here, you play three no-trump rather than four hearts, when North sen­si­bly es­chews the 5-3 heart fit. On the lead of the club three, East plays the queen, and you duck. Now East plays a sec­ond club; should you win or duck again?

It is best to win; now to find a ninth trick, you must set up hearts without let­ting West in. This means you need the king to be on­side. If East has three hearts, you can af­ford to fi­nesse, then play the ace and an­other heart. But what if he has the dou­ble­ton king? Then West would win the third heart.

To cater to both chances, cross to dummy and lead a low heart. If East plays the king, duck; if he plays low, fi­nesse, then go back to dummy to re­peat the ex­er­cise. If he plays low again, rise with the ace; if he plays the king, you duck.

Do you see a counter to de­clarer’s play if he ducks the sec­ond club? On the third club, East should dra­mat­i­cally dis­card the heart king. That way, de­clarer can­not es­tab­lish hearts without let­ting West in.

This is why South should win the sec­ond club be­fore em­bark­ing on the avoid­ance play. If East turns up with a third club, the suit is split­ting 4-3, and the de­fense can­not take more than three club tricks.

AN­SWER: It is a good idea to have a sim­ple agree­ment: Ev­ery pass of a re­dou­ble sit­ting over the trumps is an at­tempt to play there. One pos­si­ble ex­cep­tion is a pass of a sup­port dou­ble, but I be­lieve in all auc­tions of the sort shown here, where part­ner had a chance to make a cheap call and did not do so, then he wants to de­fend. So pass, and see which player at this ta­ble has lost his or her mind.

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