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

It is log­i­cal for South to open two notrump, show­ing 20 or 21, and for North to bid what he thinks his part­ner can make, by jump­ing to six no-trump. The 5-4 di­a­mond fit never gets men­tioned, but, in fact, no-trump plays just fine.

Af­ter the lead of the club 10 to the queen, de­clarer can al­most count 12 win­ners, but he sees there may be one small catch. He can pick up a 4-0 di­a­mond di­vi­sion on ei­ther side, pro­vided he knows which de­fender has the di­a­monds. Is there a way to thwart a po­ten­tially ma­lign fate here?

South can im­prove his chances by de­lay­ing the de­ci­sion in di­a­monds as long as pos­si­ble, specif­i­cally by duck­ing a spade at trick two. West plays low and de­clarer puts in dummy’s 10, let­ting East take the trick with his queen. Af­ter win­ning the club re­turn, de­clarer cashes his black-suit win­ners, and when East dis­cards on the third spade, he dis­cov­ers that West started with five spades and three or four clubs.

This means that there is now a far smaller chance that West has four di­a­monds than that East has the length in that suit. In all such sit­u­a­tions, play the de­fender with the more va­cant spa­ces (in his hand, not his cra­nium) for length in a side suit.

Ac­cord­ingly, de­clarer leads a di­a­mond to the king. Then he can play the di­a­mond 10, cov­ered by the jack and queen. He can re­turn to dummy with a high heart and take the sec­ond di­a­mond fi­nesse against East’s nine for his con­tract.

AN­SWER: With a weak hand and no fit try­for di­a­monds,to im­prove the the ques­tion­con­tract oris whether­set­tle for to a pos­si­bly in­fe­rior one in or­der to stay low. If I could in­tro­duce a sec­ond suit eco­nom­i­cally, I might do so, but here, pass­ing two di­a­monds could be very ugly. I’ll risk re­bid­ding two spades and take the blame if I’m wrong. If you would like to con­tact Bobby Wolff, email him at

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