Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - STYLE - bob­by­wolff@mind­

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


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