ACES ON BRIDGE
This deal came to me from a reader, Scott Nason of Dallas, who remarked on his partner’s presumptuousness in driving to a slam missing two key-cards -— and then some. But he also accepted full responsibility for failing to bring home the optimistic contract. Could you have done better?
When Nason’s LHO led the heart seven, Nason rose with the ace, feeling confident that this particular West would not have led small from the doubleton king. The king fell from East, so the first hurdle had been crossed. But don’t relax; you need to plan the rest of the play.
Without any bidding from the opponents, the best line would probably be to play a spade toward hand, and put in the jack if RHO plays small. (If East is good enough to duck dummy’s singleton while holding the ace, you should tip your hat to him.) If the jack fetches the ace, the plan is to pitch a club on the king and take the diamond finesse for the 12th trick.
But, since West had actually made a one-spade overcall, I think the best line is to play a heart to hand and put the diamond queen on the table. It is covered by the king, so you win the ace, and play a diamond to the jack. Now lead a heart to the board, and cash the diamond 10, pitching the spade jack. Then, ruff the last diamond and exit with the spade king to endplay your LHO.
If Nason had done all of that, he would have had a deal to remember.
ANSWER: Even if you play one spade as encouraging but not forcing — reasonable enough, though I am happy to play new suits as forcing — you should not pass now. Your best call is to rebid two diamonds, which is a more complete description of your hand than rebidding your hearts. If you would like to contact Bobby Wolff, email him at
Painters and poets alike have always had license to dare anything.
BID WITH THE ACES