Belladonna stands, with Garozzo, at the top of the list of the world’s most successful players. He has won the world team championship, either Bermuda Bowl or Olympiad, a mind-boggling 17 times!
Giorgio’s tip is entitled » Hold Up the Ace of Trumps»
The most powerful card in bridge is the ace of trumps. When you, as a defender, are fortunate enough to hold this card, you must be sure to put it to the best possible use.
A general does not necessarily commit his crack troops to the battle right at the start, and you too should quite often hold back the ace of trumps until it can play a decisive role.
In this deal you are West:
West dealer, Neither side vulnerable:
| 10 9 6
10 3 2
A Q J 5
A K 2
| A 7 4 2
K Q J 8 6
Q 10 5
| 5 3
9 7 4
10 6 4 3 2
J 8 7
| K Q J 8
K 8 7
9 6 4 3
You lead K and South wins with the A. If South can force out the A he will have ten easy tricks. A resourceful declarer will not lead trumps from his own hand, for this would make it plain that he had a strong sequence. South is likely instead to cross to dummy with a club or diamond and lead a low spade to the K.
Suppose that you release the A. In this case the contract will be made. You can cash the Q and continue with the J, but South simply discards a losing club. Now he can win any continuation, draw trumps and claim the contract.
Now suppose instead that you hold up the A on first round. Declarer continues with a second trump, but you duck this also. South is now helpless. If he plays a third trump, you win and play hearts, forcing South to ruff with his last trump. In this case you beat the contract by two tricks. If South abandons trumps after two rounds you eventually make your small trump by ruffing and South winds up with nine tricks.
It is not only when you are long in trumps that you should be reluctant to part with the ace. In the next deal you are East.
South dealer, E/W vulnerable
| A K 10 9 3
A J 9 8
| J 7
K 9 5 3 2
Q 7 5 4
| 8 6 5 4
A 10 7
K 10 3 2
| Q 2
K J 10 9 8 7 2
8 6 4
West leads the 3 and you win with the A.
As the 3 is presumably your partner’s fourth best, you can place South with three diamonds. The opening pre-empt suggests a seven card suit, so South can have only three cards in the black suits, all taken care of by dummy’s A-K and A. Unless you can take three diamond tricks you are unlikely to beat 4.
If you were to return A and another trump, with the object of preventing a diamond ruff, South would easily take the balance. To keep control you must hold on to the Ace of trump and return a low trump. Now South must go down.
My BOLS de bridge tip, therefore is simple:«Whenever you, as a defender, include the Ace of trump among your assets, you should consider whether to hold up this card when trumps are first played»
«After all, the ace of trump is the one card in the pack that you are always sure to make!