Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, April 9th, 2015

Scenery is fine – but human nature is finer.

John Keats

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



In this deal from the Yeh Bros Cup, on which North-South declared four hearts, the normal but unsuccessful line was to lead a heart to the jack then play heart ace and another heart, which failed today.

Agustin Madala played four hearts and received a diamond lead to the king, a spade shift to the ace, and a second diamond. He rose with the ace, pitched his diamond on the top spade, finessed the heart jack, then played a club to dummy. Next came a diamond ruff on which East discarded a club, a second top club, and the master spade to pitch his last club. Now came a second diamond ruff as East pitched his last spade.

Declarer could then safely exit with the heart jack, to endplay East in trumps, knowing that if East won and had a spade to lead he would be able to ruff low and not be over-ruffed.

East should have pitched a spade on the third diamond, retaining his losing club. Declarer would have led the fourth diamond from dummy on which a club discard or low ruff by East would be hopeless. But East might have given declarer a losing option by ruffing high.

Declarer has to overruff and then has to read whether to exit with a high or low trump, depending on whether East’s remaining heart honor is bare, or if the nine is falling. I think declarer should play West for the bare nine, assuming that West has not false-carded earlier in trumps.

You do not have to do more than raise to three spades now. While you surely will not sell out if your partner bids just four spades, you should let your partner take control. He can ask you for aces or controls as he sees fit, and he will be better placed than you to know how far to go.


♠ 10 7 6 5
 K Q 5 3
 K 9
♣ 10 9 4
South West North East
Pass Pass 2♣ Pass
2 Pass 2♠ 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 2015. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact


jim2April 23rd, 2015 at 1:23 pm

In BWTA, which bid by South is stronger, 3S or 4S?

Does one’s agreement on fast-arrival in this sequence affect the answer?

bobby wolffApril 23rd, 2015 at 3:30 pm

Hi Jim2,

Your technical questions are well taken and the modern high-level game has somewhat changed to (at least what they hope) makes greater sense.

In response to strong artificial 2 bids (2 clubs) the first one sets the tone, with a 2 diamond bid far and away both the most common, GF, but without a solid suit, big distributional hand, or a specific balanced hand like 2NT. The purpose of 2D is to distinguish it from a double negative of 2 or fewer high card points which is usually done by either bidding 2 hearts or in competition an artificial double showing virtually nothing.

Therefore after partner bids 2 of a major (if he does) a jump to 4 of the major denies 1st or 2nd control of all suits, shows 3 or 4 trump but hardly anything else except a stray jack (or maybe a queen) or so.

Other sequences sometime showing fast arrival suggests no more, but sometimes when limit bids are called for one or two higher show better hands than lesser raises. Usually the one constant is that if an earlier bid is GF then a secondary jump to game means fast arrival is weaker than a simple raise.

AlexeyApril 23rd, 2015 at 11:18 pm

Hi all!
Why E exited S5 but no D9?
He knows W has ace.Ace of hearts – 3 trumps and DK. Ace of spades – DK, SA, diamond ruff and HK. Down one!

David WarheitApril 24th, 2015 at 12:49 am

Alexey: Good point! Also note that if S plays the DA at trick 1, E needs to dump the K!

bobby wolffApril 24th, 2015 at 1:27 am

Hi Alexey & David,

All this good analysis and only the reward of everyone of us agreeing with you two.

It only proves that if we played with transparent cards there would be far fewer mistakes made. Still, anyone who can analyze as well as you two should indeed, do quite well.

I, as only a bridge reporter of actual hands from important tournaments, can hide under the veil of this is how the defense went, so what should we do now?

In any event, there is usually much to learn from any contested hand played and defended by very good players. From that start, anything goes, and usually does.

Thank both of you for your comments about alternatives.