ACES ON BRIDGE

Vancouver Sun - - FEATURES - BOBBY WOLFF

“He who re­ceives a ben­e­fit with grat­i­tude re­pays the first in­stall­ment on his debt.”

— Seneca

As bid­ding meth­ods de­velop, it has be­come cus­tom­ary for new-suit re­sponses to a two-club opener to prom­ise good suits, so the re­sponse of two di­a­monds be­comes a mark-time ac­tion. Play­ers tend to avoid bid­ding two no-trump with a bal­anced hand, or they re­serve the call for a dif­fer­ent hand type al­to­gether.

To­day, though, South hogged the no-trump, and when he was un­able to raise clubs di­rectly, his part­ner closed his eyes and jumped to a con­tract he hoped South could make. This seems pre­ma­ture to me, since if South had held the dou­ble­ton club queen, there eas­ily could have been 13 tricks on top. It would have cost noth­ing to bid four clubs, giv­ing South the chance to cue-bid a sec­ond-round con­trol.

When West led the spade 10 against the no-trump slam, South in­stinc­tively ducked in dummy, re­al­iz­ing too late that not only were the hearts now blocked, but the spades were too! He tried to re­cover by cash­ing his heart and spade win­ners then play­ing three rounds of clubs. How­ever, when East was able to win and shift to di­a­monds, de­clarer had to play for his only chance of putting up the queen, so he fin­ished an ig­no­min­ious two down.

Had de­clarer paused for thought when it was nec­es­sary, he would have put up dummy’s ace at trick one, then un­blocked his heart win­ners. Now come the clubs, and when they break 3-2, de­clarer can clear the suit.

The spade king rep­re­sents the en­try to the two heart win­ners, with the di­a­mond ace still in place to reach the long clubs.

AN­SWER: The spades may not be split­ting for de­clarer, but it still seems right to go ac­tive by lead­ing a top di­a­mond rather than a rel­a­tively pas­sive heart. Any­time your part­ner has di­a­mond length or one of the top three di­a­monds, this is a sen­si­ble lead. More­over, if the di­a­mond ace-king are to your right, the lead doesn’t cost a trick.

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