ACES ON BRIDGE

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - STYLE - BOBBY WOLFF

To­day’s deal saw South de­clare six spades after North had up­graded his hand to a bal­anced 18-19 count by virtue of his great con­trols. When North showed his spade sup­port, South cue-bid his heart ace and North con­tin­ued his op­ti­mistic ap­proach by us­ing key­card and driv­ing to slam.

West led the club 10, and it looked log­i­cal for South to try to set up hearts, plan­ning to come to nine tricks in the ma­jors and three tricks in the mi­nors. The first or­der of busi­ness was to win the open­ing lead with the ace, then lead a trump to the king. Now de­clarer un­blocked the heart ace, cashed the spade queen and drew the last trump by cross­ing to the spade ace.

Then came the heart king-queen, throw­ing two clubs from hand. Had hearts bro­ken, South would have ruffed out the hearts and given up just one di­a­mond trick. When the hearts failed to break, and with West long in hearts and thus po­ten­tially short in di­a­monds, de­clarer led a low di­a­mond from the ta­ble with­out cash­ing the ace. East ducked his di­a­mond king smoothly, and South’s di­a­mond queen won the trick.

Now South crossed back to dummy with the di­a­mond ace and led a se­cond di­a­mond back to­ward his jack for his 12th trick.

Had East been long in hearts, it would prob­a­bly have been right to ruff a heart to hand and pass the di­a­mond queen. That line guards against East be­ing short in di­a­monds, with ei­ther the sin­gle­ton or dou­ble­ton 10 or nine.

AN­SWER: I am sure none of my read­ers would think of stop­ping short of four spades. But it makes good sense to bid four hearts in­stead of four spades right now. You do not nec­es­sar­ily ex­pect there to be any more bid­ding. But if there is, wouldn’t you rather tell part­ner you were bid­ding four spades to make, rather than sac­ri­fic­ing? The jump sug­gests heart short­age and a good hand, not nec­es­sar­ily a slam try.

If you would like to con­tact Bobby Wolff, email him at bob­by­wolff@mind­spring.com

A mind all logic is like a knife all blade. It makes the hand bleed that uses it.

— Rabindranath Tagore

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