ACES ON BRIDGE

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - STYLE - BOBBY WOLFF If you would like to con­tact Bobby Wolff, email him at

Hence­forth I ask not for good for­tune; I my­self am good for­tune.

— Walt Whit­man

Should West dou­ble one heart, fac­ing a passed part­ner? At a dif­fer­ent vul­ner­a­bil­ity, he might feel braver and get his side to four spades. To­day, when West passes, you get to play four hearts on a spade lead, and are threat­ened with four losers if the club ace is wrong.

To set up an end­play, ruff a spade at trick two and lead a trump, hop­ing for a friendly shift. West does well to win his heart ace and pas­sively re­turn a trump. You win in hand, ruff the last spade, cash the di­a­mond ace, and lead to the di­a­mond 10. West gets his jack, but must now lead a club or con­cede a ruff-and-dis­card.

In ad­di­tion to the end­play chances that hold on the ac­tual deal, this line pro­duces a dis­card for your club loser if West has three cards and ei­ther the di­a­mond hon­ors are split, or when West has both hon­ors. It also works if ei­ther player has a dou­ble­ton or sin­gle­ton honor, as well as if ei­ther hand be­gan with Q-J dou­ble­ton. And if not, South can al­ways fall back on the club fi­nesse.

Note that if you do not ruff a spade at trick two, you can­not strip off the spades. For ex­am­ple, if you play trumps im­me­di­ately, West even­tu­ally has a safe spade exit or you run out of trumps. Sim­i­larly, if East gains the lead in di­a­monds, he will play a club through you to set the con­tract.

Fi­nally, if you play on clubs be­fore di­a­monds, the de­fense will cash their clubs and exit with a third club, leav­ing you with a di­a­mond loser.

BID WITH THE ACES

AN­SWER: If you dou­bled one spade, it would show a penalty dou­ble of one heart, but a far more suitable hand for de­fense. Imag­ine the same hand with queen-third of spades and a dou­ble­ton di­a­mond ace. Your choice ap­pears to be be­tween a pes­simistic pass, a raise to two clubs, or an imag­i­na­tive bid of one no-trump with­out a stop­per. Even a bid of two hearts is pos­si­ble, I sup­pose. I’ll set­tle for two clubs.

bob­by­wolff@mind­spring.com

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