Vancouver Sun

aces on bridge

- Bobby wolff

“My tears are buried in my heart, like cave-locked fountains sleeping.”

— Letitia Elizabeth Landon

Today’s deal from a recent U.S. Nationals was accompanie­d by the line: “I’ll give you something to cry about.” The two bridge players who met in the bar wanted to exchange hard-luck stories; it turned out that they were from the same deal. Both were declaring the deal, one as South in the diagram andoneasNo­rth,theformeri­n four spades on the auction shown.

West led the club ace and another club, ruffed by East, who shifted to a low diamond. How would you play it? At trick three, declarer quite reasonably won the diamond ace and played the spade ace and a spade to the jack, certain that the spade king or heart king was to his right. That led to his going one down!

“You think that’s bad?” said the second sad sack. “We had a different auction, though, and stopped safely low. Our dealer also opened the bidding, but with a call of one club. I overcalled one heart and, after a negative double from my left, we came to rest in three hearts. The defense led the singleton club, and my right-hand opponent deviously won the club ace to play back the club jack (suit preference for spades) for the ruff. My left-hand opponent ruffed and obediently returned the spade eight!”

Put yourself in North’s seat; wouldn’t you sympathize with him for winning the spade ace at trick three to take the heart finesse? Now it went heart king, spade king, spade ruff, club ruff — and he was down 200. Who do you think was more unlucky?

ANSWER: This hand looks ideal for a response of two clubs, Stayman. Your plan is to pass any response partner makes. While you may be able to make a part-score in no-trump, surely both diamonds and spades will play more safely for a plus score, and two hearts in a 4-3 fit looks reasonable enough, too.

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