Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, March 27th, 2015

The old know what they want; the young are sad and bewildered.

Logan Pearsall Smith

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


The central idea on the deal below is one that has been around for a while, but I think it deserves another airing.

Imagine you play three no-trump, on the predictable lead of the heart 10 to dummy’s king. It is hard to see much prospect of making your game if you cannot get the diamonds going, so you lead a diamond to your king, which holds. So far so good – but what next?

I suspect the majority of declarers would cross to a club in dummy and play a second diamond. If East gets it right he will hop up with his ace and clear the hearts. Now declarer has no entry to dummy’s fourth diamond and only has eight tricks. Whenever he gives up the lead, defenders will cash three hearts to put the contract down one.

Instead declarer must rely on the hearts being 5-4 (as they are heavy favorite to be) and should cross to dummy with a heart at trick three to lead a second diamond. The point is that he has to keep the club king as the entry to cash the long diamond, after East has played the diamond ace on the second round of diamonds, and temporarily blocked that suit for declarer.

The difference is that the defenders can cash three hearts, but now the diamonds play for three tricks; the point being that the club king can no longer be dislodged from dummy as the eventual entry to enjoy the long diamond.

The modern style (which I certainly would not insist you play) is to use all jump raises facing an opening or overcall in competition as shapely, not based on an invitation in high cards. But I would not bid three hearts here at any vulnerability. You are not just weak with a square distribution, you have all your assets – such as they are – in the side suits. A simple raise to two hearts should more than suffice.


♠ J 7 4
 10 9 8 4
 J 9 3
♣ Q 10 3
South West North East
  1 1 Dbl.

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 2015. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact


Iain ClimieApril 10th, 2015 at 5:32 pm

Hi Bobby,

Change the EW cards slightly so that East holds D AJ9 and there is a brilliancy waiting to be found. East plays the DJ on the first round, so declarer wins with the DK and finesses the D8 on the way back (or possibly leads the Q intending to finesse the 8 after driving out the Ace). The look on declarer’s face can be imagined, especially as he is taking the safe option against hearts being 6-3.

I’ve got a copy of “Deadly Defence” by Klinger, Izdebski and Krzemien (Weidenfield & Nicholson) which is full of such ideas. If I study it enough, I might even manage such a coup in rythmn and at the table!



Bobby WolffApril 10th, 2015 at 6:30 pm

Hi Iain,

Your example is well worth the dream. And it WOULD work, especially against a quality declarer.

When your time to exit our planet arrives, please feel blessed by your then upcoming opportunity to make a series of plays very similar to the ones you, and not many others, seem to take in stride.

To arrive at such a Nirvana will likely be reserved for only bridge players who love and contribute to the lore and sheer beauty of the game as much as you.

I, too, loved this hand which will stand as a lesson on sometimes countering the normal intuition which most, even competent declarers, sometimes fall victim to.