ACES ON BRIDGE

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

O! What au­thor­ity and show of truth Can cun­ning sin cover it­self withal! — Wil­liam Shake­speare South’s open­ing bid of one no-trump makes it easy for North to bid game. If North’s five-card suit were a ma­jor, he might trans­fer, but since it is a mi­nor, he should raise to game in no-trump.

South is re­lieved to see a heart open­ing lead, since the defense has not gone af­ter his weak point, spades. None­the­less, de­clarer has to plan what might hap­pen if the de­fend­ers get on lead early in the deal. South will win just four club tricks if the club fi­nesse loses; if that is the case, he will need to make some­thing out of the di­a­monds to bring home his con­tract.

If South tack­les clubs at once, East may see he should win and shift to spades. Then when South goes af­ter di­a­monds, East will win and cash his spades.

One pos­si­ble way to avoid this re­volt­ing devel­op­ment is for de­clarer to win the first trick in dummy and go af­ter di­a­monds im­me­di­ately. If East has the di­a­mond ace, he might play low on the first round of the suit — even if he shouldn’t.

What is more, if East does fly up with the di­a­mond ace, he may con­tinue the at­tack on hearts, since the play so far is en­tirely con­sis­tent with de­clarer hav­ing king-third of hearts.

As it hap­pens, when East ducks the first di­a­mond, South can safely switch to clubs. The rest is easy. The gen­eral prin­ci­ple is that it pays to steal the ninth trick early. The op­po­nents are less likely to let you get away with it later on when they have had a chance to fig­ure out what is go­ing on. AN­SWER: Though your hon­ors are strong, I would ad­vo­cate re­spond­ing two di­a­monds rather than three clubs here. The prob­lem is that you have only a five-card suit, and you run the risk of pre-empt­ing part­ner out of his nat­u­ral se­quence if you bid three clubs.You should be able to show your hand later (though club suits are prob­lem­atic be­cause three clubs of­ten serves as a sec­ond neg­a­tive).

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