ACES ON BRIDGE

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

The mass of men lead lives of quiet des­per­a­tion. What is called res­ig­na­tion is con­firmed des­per­a­tion.

— Henry David Thoreau To­day’s deal demon­strates how to have your cake and eat it too. When play­ing teams, you want to en­sure mak­ing your con­tract if you can, or de­feat­ing it if hu­manly pos­si­ble. Over­tricks and un­der­tricks are the lifeblood of the pairs game, but ba­si­cally ir­rel­e­vant in teams.

So let’s look at a pairs deal, where you de­clare four hearts on the de­fense of three rounds of spades, ruffed in hand. Your tar­get is to make as many tricks as pos­si­ble, while not go­ing down if you can avoid it.

If you play hearts from the top and find the 4-1 break, there is noth­ing you can do to re­cover against com­pe­tent de­fense. West will ruff the third round of clubs, then exit with the heart jack if de­clarer has drawn only two rounds of trumps, or exit in spades if de­clarer drew three rounds of trumps.

So what can de­clarer do to side­step this out­come? You could play the ace and a low heart, giv­ing up a trump trick to set­tle for 10 win­ners. But if hearts break, you would then have sac­ri­ficed a trick for noth­ing.

A bet­ter line, which com­bines safety with ex­cel­lent chances for 11 win­ners, is to cash one heart, then cross to dummy with a club to lead a sec­ond round of trumps. When East dis­cards, you put in the 10 and can claim the rest af­ter West wins the jack. If East fol­lows to the sec­ond trump, win the king, and un­less West shows out, you have the rest. If West dis­cards, try to cross to a top club to fi­nesse in trump. AN­SWER: This isn’t the right place to tell you which form of trans­fers to use over one no- trump. How­ever, which­ever scheme you have in place, you should trans­fer to di­a­monds, since your hand is use­less in no-trump and you want to keep the op­po­nents out. Trans­fers do not prom­ise val­ues — as op­posed to suit length.

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