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“The question in every case is whether the words used are used in such circumstances and are of such a nature as to create a clear and present danger. …” – Oliver Wendell Holmes

Bobby Wolff United Feature Syndicate

This deal from the first final session of the Chicago 2006 Mixed Board-a-Match teams was a tricky one to play in six spades despite clues that were available in several of the auctions. (East doubles a heart cuebid, or West overcalls in clubs.)

Say you play in six spades on a top club lead. Which hand should you set up? Many players ignored the danger signs, finessing in hearts and running into a ruff. But the auction had indicated the danger of that approach. Can you see a better line?

The answer is to win the club ace, play the diamond ace, ruff a diamond, play a spade to hand, then ruff another diamond. Now cross to hand with a high trump and ruff your last diamond with dummy’s last trump, then ruff a club back to hand.

At this point you can draw the last trump while still having one trump left in hand and can now take the heart finesse. If it holds, in the three-card ending you ruff a club back to hand with an excellent chance to make 13 tricks.

But as the cards lie, of course, the heart finesse loses and you have to settle for 12 tricks. Just to give you an idea of how tough this deal was to play, only five declarers out of a 26-table section made it.

Bid with the aces

South holds:

♠ A K J 8 7
♥ J 7 5
♦ A 8 6 3
♣ 10
1 ♠2 ♣PassPass
Dbl.PassPass2 ♦

Answer: When you have started to double the opponents for penalties, as here, you should make sure not to let them off the hook.

Here you have four trumps and great controls, so even though you lack trump intermediates, lower the ax at once and double two diamonds.

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