ACES ON BRIDGE

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

Very few peo­ple have heard of the Von­dracek phe­nom­e­non, and fewer still would be­lieve that it is a se­ri­ous bridge idea rather than some kind of a joke. How­ever, the con­cept is a se­ri­ous one.

More than 60 years ago, the idea was pro­posed in Bridge World by Felix Von­dracek that when faced with a choice of trump suits, it might work bet­ter to play in the weaker fit, not the stronger one. The logic is that if you have sure losers re­gard­less of the suit you play in, you may re­tain con­trol by leav­ing the op­po­nents with the mas­ter trumps. By con­trast, play­ing the stronger suit may com­pel you to draw more rounds of trumps.

On the auc­tion shown, South fin­ished up in four hearts when North thought it was just pos­si­ble that

South had 5-6 in the ma­jors, and that other­wise it would be a pure guess as to which ma­jor might play bet­ter.

As you can see, four spades gets forced on re­peated club leads, when the 4-1 heart break makes it im­pos­si­ble to set up the side suit. Not that four hearts was easy to make ei­ther, but South ruffed the open­ing club lead and guessed well to play three rounds of spades be­fore tack­ling trump.

West ruffed the third spade and played a sec­ond club, which South ruffed, in or­der to cash the heart ace and lead win­ning spades. West ruffed in, drew one more round of trumps, then played a third club. How­ever, de­clarer could ruff, pitch a di­a­mond from dummy on the mas­ter spade, and cross-ruff the rest.

BID WITH THE ACES

AN­SWER: Your part­ner’s com­bi­na­tion of cue-bid and heart call are forc­ing. With a hand worth no more than an in­vi­ta­tion, he would have jumped to three hearts on his sec­ond turn. So you must bid, and the choice is to raise to four hearts or bid four clubs. I can’t say I like the raise with a sin­gle­ton, but I’d like to make the most dis­cour­ag­ing noise I can, and this is it.

The un­e­d­u­cated per­son per­ceives only the in­di­vid­ual phe­nom­e­non, the partly ed­u­cated per­son the rule, and the ed­u­cated per­son the ex­cep­tion. — Franz Grill­parzer

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