Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Saturday, February 22nd, 2014

Keep up appearances; there lies the test. The world will give thee credit for the rest.

Charles Churchill

North North
Neither ♠ Q 10 4 3
 K 10 9 3
♣ 10 8 5 2
West East
♠ A 9 8 2
 4 3 2
 Q 7
♣ A 9 7 4
♠ —
 A J 9 7 5
 J 8 5 4
♣ Q J 6 3
♠ K J 7 6 5
 Q 10 8 6
 A 6 2
♣ K
South West North East
Pass 1
1♠ 2 2 NT* Pass
4♠ All pass    

*Spade raise


Four spades was a popular contract on this deal from the Gold Coast Teams qualifier. Not surprisingly, few managed to make it, since there appears to be a loser in each suit.

But sometimes appearances are deceptive. Let’s shift to Ishmael Del’Monte’s table, where the defenders led a heart to the king and ace and a low club back to the king and ace for a second club. Del’Monte ducked in dummy, and East put up the jack. South ruffed, then led the spade jack, ducked all around, as East threw a heart, and played a second trump.

If West had ducked, declarer would win in dummy, and cash the diamond king and ace plus the heart queen, then crossruff clubs and hearts. This way at trick 12 he scores the last trump in dummy en passant, with the defense’s diamond and spade winner falling together at trick 13.

So West won the second spade and played a third spade, won in dummy, leaving East to find two discards. One diamond and one more heart were painless enough; but when declarer ruffed a club to hand, then crossed to the diamond king to play the last trump, East was caught in a triple squeeze.

Dummy had a trump, three diamonds and the club 10 left, while declarer had Q-10-8 of hearts and ace-doubleton in diamonds. East had to discard from his doubleton heart jack, doubleton diamond jack and master club, and whatever he threw, declarer could arrange to take the rest of the tricks.

You should pass and hope to make it. Don't even consider raising to four hearts. With bad trumps and a poor spade suit facing likely shortage, not to mention a singleton honor, this is about as bad a 13-count as you could hold. If you made the club king the ace, you might think about bidding because of the controls.


♠ K J 7 6 5
 Q 10 8 6
 A 6 2
♣ K
South West North East
1♠ Pass 1 NT Pass
2 Pass 3 Pass

For details of Bobby Wolff’s autobiography, The Lone Wolff, contact If you would like to contact Bobby Wolff, please leave a comment at this blog. Reproduced with permission of United Feature Syndicate, Inc., Copyright 2014. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact


Michael BeyroutiMarch 8th, 2014 at 10:56 am

“If West had ducked” (the second round of trumps)… I am not sure that Declarer can score dummy’s last trump en passant. West has A-9 of trumps left. At the point where Declarer attempts to ruff his last heart in Dummy, West can ruff with the Ace and exit with his last trump. Leaving South with a diamond loser in the end and no more trumps in dummy.

Bob KiblerMarch 8th, 2014 at 12:19 pm

In that line, declarer succeeds if he ruffs a club at trick 7 (after cashing the diamond king
but before cashing the diamond ace). Then the “en passant” works.

jim2March 8th, 2014 at 12:45 pm

I just KNOW that if I had sat East and shifted to a low club, that declarer would have held Kx.

Michael BeyroutiMarch 8th, 2014 at 3:22 pm

Yes, Bob Kibler,
you are right!

Bobby WolffMarch 8th, 2014 at 3:37 pm

Hi Michael, Bob & Jim2,

Thanks for the lively discussion and for Bob’s suggesting the order of managing the high diamonds enabling the game going trick to be scored “en passant”.

To Jim2, not only would TOCM tm deal declarer Kx in clubs, Jimminy Cricket (a TOCM spy in disguise) would counsel declarer, while sitting on his shoulder, to duck the king of clubs. when Jim2 switched to a low club. TOCM has added a new division to their treacherous society, so others should be aware of their increased capabilities.