ACES ON BRIDGE
Chris Willenken brought home a difficult contract in the Round of 64 of last year’s Spingold Trophy in Washington, D.C. Against four spades, reached on a somewhat unusual but very revealing auction, West led the diamond eight, covered by the king and ace, and East returned a trump.
The trump return and the auction had suggested that West would have a natural trump trick. Declarer could see nine tricks in the form of one club, one diamond, two ruffs and five trump winners. But where would trick 10 come from?
Willenken decided that his best shot — assuming his view of the enemy distribution was correct — was to endplay West into leading a heart in the endgame, so he won the trump switch, ruffed a heart in dummy, ruffed a low club in his hand and ruffed another heart. When East followed with the heart king, Willenken was sure
West had started with a 3=6=2=2 pattern.
So Willenken ruffed another club in hand, cashed the trump king and crossed to the diamond queen. In the five-card ending, West was down to four hearts and the trump queen.
On the club ace, declarer pitched a heart, and the ending Willenken had envisioned materialized. West, realizing that ruffing the club ace would leave him endplayed, discarded a heart. Willenken then ruffed a club in hand (West again discarding a heart) and exited with his now-bare spade jack to West’s queen, ensuring he would collect the game-going heart trick at the end.
ANSWER: Anyone who only raises to three diamonds, go to the back of the class! This hand is far too strong for that action, and you have two ways to show the extras. One is to bid the impossible two spades (you have denied length there already) as a way to show a maximum raise for partner. The other is to jump to three spades, a splinter bid agreeing diamonds.
The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science.