Going to Bed with an Ace Time to Remember Victor Mollo by Nikola Tcholakov (BUL)

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You clearly remember this board you watched in your favorite club last weekend. All three players at the table were the most competent Hogs in the club, the fourth was a newcomer with unknown skill from a distant country. You were in the South-West position seeing this:

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On 13 September, 2016 At 7:12

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Nikola Tcholakov
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Sofia, September 11 2016

You clearly remember this board you watched in your favorite club last weekend. All three players at the table were the most competent Hogs in the club, the fourth was a newcomer with unknown skill from a distant country. You were in the South-West position seeing this:

 Q 8
 9 7 4
 A K J 5 4
 Q 8 2
   A 10 9
 2
 Q 10 8 2
 A K 10 9 3

East Hog No. 1 is the dealer and opens 1 – five card majors. South Hog No. 2 bids cautious 2 avoiding take-out double. You approve such a forethought knowing quite well that these days everybody in the North seat jumps in spades after any take-out double from partner.

West Hog No. 3 bids 2, pass from the newcomer in the North seat, 2 from East – a waiting bid as explained. Pass from South, West produces an invitational raise to 3, pass from North and East closes the bidding with 4.

South cashes two high clubs, North produces encouraging cards, East drops the Jack on the second trick and South continues with the 10 – a clear suite preference for spades. North ruffs and immediately exits with the Seven of Diamonds. Everybody around the table raised eyebrows but the contract was doomed the full board being:

 J 6 5 2
 10 8 5 2
 7 6 3
 7 5
 Q 8
 9 7 4
 A K J 5 4
 Q 8 2
   K 7 4 3
 A K Q J 6
 9
 J 6 4
   A 10 9
 2
 Q 10 8 2
 A K 10 9 3

Later in the evening you met the newcomer in the bar and invited him for a glass of Peter Michael’s Au Paradis vintage 2012.

Victor Mollo

Victor Mollo

“You probably use reverse suit preference signals in you country” you started a friendly chat remembering the diamond switch after he ruffed the club. „Not at all!” he replied and added: “We do not use signals. We use our heads.” And presents his views of the board: “After the bidding and the first three tricks it was an open book, a double dummy problemless.

Declarer has solid hearts and one high card in spades. What else could he have for his opening bid? Then, if I attack spades, he should rise with ace, knowing quite well from the bidding where the spade king is lurking. And after cashing all his trumps South will be squeezed in diamonds and spades. Therefore, you see, it was vital to cut communications with dummy in diamonds right now.”

“But what about East having six hearts and diamond void?” you object cautiously. „Without an entry to dummy declarer was bound to loose a spade trick otherwise.”

“Right!” he promptly replies. “My only concern was that partner might be 3-0-5-5 with the King of Spades but people usually use 2NT overcall for minors with such hands. A take-out double of 1 Heart is also possible. And if he is something like 4-1-3-5 there is no hope, but such hands call for take-out double, not 2 Clubs overcall.”

“I was little surprised at the end” he continues. ”He did not cash the ace of spades before playing the third club. Obviously there is no way to beat 4 hearts unless I ruff the third club. Therefore I was pretty sure he has the King of Spades not the Ace. People sometimes go to bed with an Ace if playing with a partner who does not blindly follow suite preference.”

You realized it was time for a second glass of the famous Cabernet Sauvignon.

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