ACES ON BRIDGE

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

In to­day’s deal, South could not bear to con­ceal his five-card ma­jor on his first turn. West’s cue-bid of two hearts showed 5-5 in spades and a mi­nor, and now South tried to make up for lost time by re­bid­ding three no-trump on his next turn. North read him as hav­ing a far stronger hand than this and leapt to six hearts, a con­tract that would have been easy had South held a dou­ble­ton in di­a­monds rather than spades. As it was, though, slam was very tricky to play af­ter a spade lead, since the di­a­mond king was surely go­ing to be off­side. Can you spot de­clarer’s best chance?

De­clarer should win the spade lead and draw only two rounds of trumps with the ace and queen. Then he must rely on four rounds of clubs stand­ing up — al­most a given, since the two-suited over­call means West can hardly hold more than two clubs. Af­ter pitch­ing a spade on the fourth club, South can ruff a spade to hand, draw the last trump with the heart king, and re­duce to a four-card end­ing where he has three di­a­monds and a trump in each hand.

Now he can lead the di­a­mond nine from dummy, plan­ning to let it run to West to end­play that player. If East holds one of the jack or 10 of di­a­monds, he will be at lib­erty to cover the nine, but South can play the queen. Though West can win with the king, he must next lead back a di­a­mond, and dummy’s eight will win the trick. AN­SWER: I’m sure many of my read­ers are say­ing, “I bid one no-trump; what is the prob­lem?” That is the right an­swer, but bear in mind that in bal­anc­ing seat, the range for this call is not 15-17. The range is 11-15 (give or take a point or two — slightly less over a mi­nor-suit open­ing). You can’t af­ford to sell out cheaply in these po­si­tions, which in turn means that you would need to dou­ble and bid no-trump with 16-18 HCP.

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