ACES ON BRIDGE
On this deal from the first qualifying session of the Von Zedtwitz Life Master Pairs in Washington last summer, West led the club king against four hearts. The best play might be for declarer to take diamond ruffs early, but declarer got understandably greedy and played three rounds of spades at once, pitching dummy’s club.
When East ruffed in, it looked obvious to play a club. Declarer ruffed in dummy and led a trump, the fatal error, for now the defenders could win and kill the discard with a fourth spade. Declarer had to ruff high, then play three rounds of diamonds, ruffing in hand. No matter what declarer did next, East could ruff high and return a trump, killing declarer’s ruff and leaving him with a diamond loser.
For the record, Brad Coles as declarer did make the contract by playing on diamonds at trick six. He ruffed the third diamond with the eight, overruffed by the king. Back came a spade, and Coles ruffed high in dummy, East pitching a diamond.
Coles now had a complete count of the West hand as 5=1=2=5, so he ruffed a diamond low. When this could not be overruffed, he gave up just one trump to claim his contract.
Have you noticed the slip on defense? East should have played back a low trump at trick five to his partner’s king, to let him lead a fourth spade. East can later overruff a black suit, then play back a trump to kill the second diamond ruff.
ANSWER: If playing transfers over a two no-trump opener, you must map out your strategy. Transfer first; but then will you sign off in game, try for slam or drive to slam? The heart intermediates make it worth a slam try, so transfer to hearts, then bid diamonds, a natural slam try. A reasonable alternative would be to transfer then jump to four no-trump, quantitative, not Blackwood. If you would like to contact Bobby Wolff, email him at