ACES ON BRIDGE
If you would like to contact Bobby Wolff, email him at email@example.com BOBBY WOLFF
In the final match to select the USA2 mixed team for the 2023 world championships, Yoko Sobel as West showed a slightly better hand than she had, but North ignored her and raised to four spades on the strength of her own distribution. Andrew Rosenthal received the diamond king lead to his ace and started on trumps at trick two, but Sobel won and defended well with a diamond continuation. Declarer ruffed, cashed the spade queen to find out the bad news, and then crossed to the heart ace to play a club up. West climbed in with the ace and cashed a diamond. Declarer still had to lose a trump trick to East’s spade 10, so the contract failed. The 4-1 spade split was not too unlikely based on the bidding, and West was likely to hold all the important missing honors. With that in mind, declarer might have found the winning play of leading a club to the jack at trick two. He could then cross to the heart ace and play another club up, to West’s ace. Declarer would then ruff the second diamond on the table and park his diamond loser on the club king before starting trumps. West wins and forces declarer with the third diamond, but South is in control. Alternatively, declarer could play the spade queen from dummy at trick three and then absorb both diamond forces to work a trump endplay. The key is to set up the second club trick, and declarer has only two red-suit entries to hand to lead up to the club honors. He must therefore start on the suit at once. ANSWER: I pass most balanced 11-counts unless I have a good five-card suit. This spade holding does not qualify, but the hard values (two aces and a king) make it a marginal one-spade opening for me. If you do open and hear a forcing no-trump response, should you break discipline and pass that call? I leave that up to you and your conscience.