Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Saturday, October 11th, 2014

Some circumstantial evidence is very strong, as when you find a trout in the milk.

Henry David Thoreau

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

*Minors, 7-11


One of the top players in England is David Gold, for many years director of teaching at St John's Wood Bridge Club. Today's deal shows him in top form on a deal from a home international match against Wales.

West’s two-no-trump opening showed both minors and made it difficult for the English pair to reach four spades, but the bidding was more than helpful in the play.

West led the club king, followed by the ace, East showing three cards in the suit. West then switched to the spade five, and declarer went up with dummy’s ace, cashed the diamond ace and king, discarding spades, then ruffed a diamond to hand. Now he ruffed a club and ruffed a diamond, East discarding a spade.

He next crossed to the heart ace and played dummy’s last diamond. To prevent declarer from scoring another small ruff (which would have given him three plain winners and seven trump tricks), East ruffed in with the heart jack. Declarer overruffed with the queen, and had to decide what West’s last two cards were. It seems to me that he played the odds when he exited with a spade.

When West followed suit, Gold knew that West was marked with precisely two spades and five cards in each minor, thus only one heart, which he had produced under dummy’s ace. Accordingly, in the two-card ending, with declarer holding the K-8 of trumps, when East led back a low heart from his 9-7, Gold could be completely confident in taking the finesse.

It is tempting to jump to three no-trump, but the absence of spot cards in your long suits suggests that caution would be wise. A simple raise to two no-trump is enough, since your partner has suggested values in the range of 6-10 HCP. Change the diamond three to the 10 and you might contemplate doing more.


♠ A Q 9 4
 A 10
 A K 8 6 3
♣ 7 6
South West North East
1 Pass 1 Pass
1♠ Pass 1 NT 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


Iain ClimieOctober 25th, 2014 at 11:07 am

Hi Bobby,

Should West have considered cashing two top clubs in the opposite order to normal, then switching to the spade 2, trying to give the impression that he had a singleton spade via false card and the inferential club signal? A suspicious declarer might yet prevail, but it seems like a chance to nothing, although if South ducked the spade and east returned a spade to be ruffed, the game would be up. South still has to play with care on similar lines to those described in the column, but he might just go for Spade Ace, dump a club on the diamond ace and drawing trumps, when east doesn’t cover the H10.

Is it worth a try?



Bobby WolffOctober 25th, 2014 at 1:59 pm

Hi Iain,

Yes indeed, or perhaps indeed, yes!

With the opening leader’s specific hand (and, of course, the AK of diamonds staring directly at you), it seems the pot needs to be stirred and misleading one’s defensive partner (at least with this defense). appears harmless.

Your proposed deception definitely passes the litmus test, being a tougher opponent with little perceived risk. The only possible (or at least likely) problem will be some time later this specific partner will reply when the oft asked demand is made by you, “Why in the world wouldn’t you believe my carding?” and he then refers back to this hand as the cause.

Oh well you may think (and be right-on), is my ox that dense?

Iain ClimieOctober 25th, 2014 at 5:11 pm

Too true,alas. I recall one hand defending 3H where dummy had C9x in declarer’s first suit and I held CJx plus the ability to overruff dummy. I switched to small club, catering for partner holding K10xx or similar, avoiding him being endplayed if declarer had AQ87x (he did). Pard totally misread this, decked the later defence and blamed me.