ACES ON BRIDGE
When constabulary duty’s to be done … A policeman’s lot is not a happy one! — W.S. Gilbert
The system in use at the Dyspeptics Club rubber game includes transfer responses to one no-trump. So when South picked up his usual collection of high cards and opened one no-trump, North could look with favor on his aces and kings and transfer to spades, followed by a quantitative jump to four no-trump. That was a sensible valuation of his cards. South, who had never met a 16-count he didn’t like, leapt to the spade slam, and there they were. For the record, to set spades as trump then use Blackwood, one would start with a Texas transfer at the four-level.
The play matched the speed of the bidding, but not the accuracy. South won the second round of hearts, then played three rounds of clubs, ruffing in hand as West pitched a diamond. Then he tried the spade queen and jack, deciding not to overtake because of the sight of East’s spade nine on the first round. He barely had time to pat himself on his back when West ruffed the second diamond, and down went the contract.
South’s protestations of being born under an unlucky star cut no ice with North, who knew how many points South was normally dealt. But there was a second reason, too; can you see it?
South should have cashed one round of trumps, then the diamond ace and king, before ruffing the club in hand. Once that passes off peacefully, declarer can unblock in trumps and safely ruff a diamond to dummy to complete the drawing of trumps. ANSWER: Even though you expect the opponents to raise spades, there is no reason to be deflected from your plan of bidding clubs, then raising diamonds. Unless partner doubles a high-level spade call (and maybe even then?), you will see your plan through. You may have only 9 HCP, but this hand correlates to almost a full opener when you take the likely fit into account.