Hand of the day #51

The Aces On Bridge by Bobby Wolff

In this deal from the Vanderbilt match between Rombaut and Rosenthal, Christian Bakke declared four spades from the South seat after his opponents had bid and raised diamonds.

Opening Lead: 5

He received a diamond lead to the ace and a cunning low heart shift from young Leo Rombaut, presenting a losing option. From Bakke’s perspective, East rated to have the club ace for his free bid of two diamonds, so he could hardly have both heart royals. He played small, hoping East had honor-10-low, but West won the 10 and cleared a heart trick while East still had club control.

The defense had to get onto hearts on this layout, lest the club nine and diamond king provide two discards for dummy’s hearts. However, East could not be sure that was the case. For all he knew, declarer had only two club tricks (say South lacked the club nine) and ace-jack-low in hearts (missing the seven), in which case a low heart shift from honor-10-small could give the contract.

Sabine Auken reasoned along these lines. Roy Welland had made a conventional three-diamond response to one no-trump rather than Stayman, shutting East out. Auken had less to go on in the bidding, but deemed it safer for East, Chris Willenken, to switch to a low heart from king-queen-small than honor-10-small. She duly inserted the heart jack to land her game. Well played.


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