ACES ON BRIDGE

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

Arith­metic is num­bers you squeeze from your head to your hand to your pen­cil to your pa­per till you get the an­swer.

— Carl Sand­burg Against your six-club con­tract, West leads the di­a­mond three to East’s ace, and East re­turns a di­a­mond to your king. You can try the heart fi­nesse for the 12th trick. Is there any­thing bet­ter?

There is, in­deed. You must make the most of your com­ing dis­card on the di­a­monds. Your best play at trick three is to cash two of your high trumps from hand. Then, cross to the trump honor in dummy, cash the heart king and ace, and dis­card your los­ing heart on dummy’s di­a­mond queen. Fi­nally, ruff a heart in hand and lead a spade to the board to dis­card your spade loser on the es­tab­lished hearts.

This line of play is a real im­prove­ment over re­ly­ing on the heart queen to be on­side. It ne­go­ti­ates all the 3-2 heart splits and also suc­ceeds when the queen is sin­gle­ton.

This is con­sid­er­ably bet­ter than the straight­for­ward heart fi­nesse, which is only a 50 per­cent chance, plus the slight chance of a sin­gle­ton queen off­side. On av­er­age, a suit will break 3-2 about two-thirds of the time, and when there is a sin­gle­ton queen, that ups the odds for this line even fur­ther.

In­ci­den­tally, you will note that had the de­fend­ers shifted to a spade at trick two, that re­moves dummy’s late en­try. De­clarer must lead two high trumps from hand, then cash the two top hearts, take his dis­card, ruff a heart high and go back to the club king to ob­tain his dis­cards. AN­SWER: The re­bid of one no-trump here does not prom­ise the moon in the way of spade guards — you may oc­ca­sion­ally have to make the call with three small, so by com­par­i­son, you are pos­i­tively over-en­dowed in spade stop­pers. You would rather not in­tro­duce a three-card suit if you can help it, es­pe­cially when you have a good prac­ti­cal al­ter­na­tive.

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