Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Saturday, June 14th, 2014

There's always a way if you're not in a hurry.

Paul Theroux

West North
East-West ♠ 7
 A 6 2
 A J 8 7 3 2
♣ Q 9 8
West East
♠ 8 6 5
 9 4
 10 6 5 4
♣ 5 4 3 2
♠ K 2
 K Q J 8 5
 K Q
♣ A K J 6
♠ A Q J 10 9 4 3
 10 7 3
♣ 10 7
South West North East
Pass 1 Dbl.
4♠ Pass Pass Dbl.
All pass      


Sometimes even the most promising hand proves to be a disappointment. In the Spring Foursomes, English international Sally Brock held the East hand.. Although no one likes to make a takeout double without holding the spade suit, here, with 22 high-card points, she did not see a sensible choice. When South's four spade bid came around to her, again, she didn't see any alternative to doubling.

Against four spades, West led the heart nine, which declarer won, took a spade finesse, and rattled off lots of trump. However, in the five-card ending (after all the trumps), dummy was squeezed before East was. Try as he could, declarer could take no more than nine tricks.

But suppose declarer ducks the first heart. Best defense is to switch to the diamond king (now declarer cannot both ruff his diamonds good and take the spade finesse), but that is very hard to find. Suppose, instead, East passively returns another heart.

Now declarer wins, takes the trump finesse, and plays off all his trumps. The last four cards in his hand are one heart, one diamond and two clubs. Dummy holds two diamonds and two clubs. What does East do? She has to keep a heart and two diamonds, so keeps only one club. Then declarer will simply play a club, establishing a winner in that suit, which he can reach via the diamond ace.

Your partner has forced to game and asked you to describe your hand. There is no need to jump to show your heart support, or to suggest a minimum hand. With decent values and good heart support (plus what might well be a useful spade control) just support partner by bidding three hearts and let partner take it from there. If he raises to four hearts, you should then cue-bid four spades.


♠ 7
 A 6 2
 A J 8 7 3 2
♣ Q 9 8
South West North East
1 2♣
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


Patrick CheuJune 28th, 2014 at 6:37 pm

Hi Bobby,did anyone make 4Sx? Do you think declarer was worried that 9H lead could be singleton?Hence no duck.If East assumes seven spades in South’s hand,a squeeze on East if second heart played,yes,but to find the King of diamonds switch is hard as oppose to heart continuation,yes,suppose East looks at the effect of seven rounds of spades on North’s hand..then maybe the king of diamond switch is possible,after declarer ducks the first heart.Defence is surely the hardest part of the game..this hand is worth studying,especially the ending.East can upset the tempo of declarer’s play due to doubleton diamonds.Regards~Patrick.

bobby wolffJune 28th, 2014 at 7:34 pm

Hi Patrick,

No, I do not think declarer was worried about West having a singleton heart. If East had a 6 card heart suit, it is possible with a great hand to double first, but not double the 2nd time with what figures to be a penalty leave in by partner, especially since East’s very likely king of spades is not guarded well enough.

Also, since declarer was not looking at the eight of hearts the opening lead could easily be from 3 or even 4 hearts to the 98.

However the switch to the king of diamonds is very difficult since declarer might very well have a singleton diamond, enabling him to ruff out the queen and still have an entry back to dummy to discard a loser, either e.g AJ109xxxx, xxx, x, x, or worse AJ10xxxxx, xxx, void, xx wherein a hopeless contract takes on new life with an incredibly positive change of events. FWIW, sometimes a good partner will lead the 9 from an original holding of 3 in order to help partner, which doesn’t matter much but is probably worth mentioning.

The most important bridge fact, IMO is what you referred to first, the ruling out of a singleton heart from West because of East’s 2nd double almost certainly denying that possibility. Very good players will almost never do such a thing, e.g holding any unmentioned 6 card suit, especially a major suit headed by the KQJ, and doubling (when partner is very likely to leave it in).

Patrick cheuJune 28th, 2014 at 8:18 pm

Hi Bobby,appreciate your comment as to other possible spade holdings and hand shapes which declarer can have which makes it wrong to switch to king of diamonds.Many thanks~Patrick.