Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, August 23rd, 2016

The Promised Land always lies on the other side of a wilderness.

Havelock Ellis

S North
None ♠ Q J 8 6 5
 A 6 5
 7 4
♣ 9 7 5
West East
♠ 9 2
 J 9 4
 J 10 8 2
♣ A 6 4 2
♠ A 10 4 3
 K Q 9 5 3
♣ J 10 8
♠ K 7
 K Q 10 7 3 2
 A 6
♣ K Q 3
South West North East
1 Pass 1 ♠ Pass
3 Pass 4 All pass


When South invites game at his second turn, North accepts the invitation, of course. After West’s top diamond lead, some Easts might simply encourage the lead – but better is to overtake with the queen, perhaps planning to shift to clubs. Naturally South wins trick one; what next?

They say that many homeless bridge players are walking Charing Cross Embankment — because they forgot to draw trump. However, just as many are walking the streets of New York because they drew trump too soon.

South needs two spade tricks to make his game. If he draws three rounds of trump and then starts the spades, the opponents will duck the first spade and take the second, and the rest of dummy’s suit will be shut out.

South instead takes just the king and queen of trumps, leaving dummy’s trump ace as the entry to the spades. Then he leads out the spade king, on which West gives count, letting East duck. When East wins the second spade he cashes his high diamond, and now West gives high suit preference to tell his partner to play a third spade for the trump promotion. If West had the club ace but no promotable trump, he would follow low on the diamond, letting East play a club through. Again, unless East ducks, declarer will be home.

As it is, a third spade from East promotes the heart jack, and dooms the contract. Maybe a more deceptive line for declarer is to draw just one trump and lead a spade to the jack.

The simple option of playing Jordan (also known as Truscott) is to jump to two notrump to show a limit raise. As a passed hand I prefer to bid three diamonds, a fit jump promising spades and a real diamond suit. When or if the opponents bid hearts this helps paint the picture of your hand to your partner – he can envisage your values and shape much better now, and judge the competition more accurately.


♠ A 10 4 3
 K Q 9 5 3
♣ J 10 8
South West North East
Pass Pass 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 2016. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact


jim2September 6th, 2016 at 12:44 pm

This is MY kind of hand to declare! 🙁

The hand is cold if trump are 2 – 2 or if spades are 3- 3. Additionally, even if trump are 3 – 1, it succeeds if the JH is singleton of if West is the one with four spades.

Four hearts also makes in many cases if the AC is onside. (For example, declarer could give up on a second spade trick entirely after the JS wins and lead clubs.)

Note that if West held the AS doubleton, declarer could get home via a scissors coup diamond lead after the first spade is ducked.

And, of course, it STILL makes if the defense does not get off to a diamond lead.

bruce karlsonSeptember 6th, 2016 at 2:10 pm

BWTA: Could I be forgiven for bidding 4S if favorable or all non vul.? The AD figures to be onside, nine trumps, and it makes the possible H sacrifice difficult to find. In the event partner is loaded, he can press on to look for a slam. It figures to be odds on with respectable distribution.

bobbywolffSeptember 6th, 2016 at 3:40 pm

Hi Jim2,

Your special post on this hand is indicative of just how fast you can declare hands, knowing everything necessary for success will not be present because of your TOCM TM.

However, that has the chance to be turned around by defensive mistakes, so knowing what lies ahead for you with the opponents distribution gives you a head start to which others (often inveterate optimists) do not enjoy.

Therefore you could lead a low spade toward dummy making East fear that West is ducking his king of spades and thus blowing the defense.

Small risk, but a momentous gain and all because your disease has given you a free look at your fate. Of course, I am not considering the depth of TOCM which I guess, at your stage of suffering, even takes away that advantage and makes use of that card migration only after you have started your declaring, Singleton ace of spades therefore getting a spade ruff, with of course 2-2 trumps.

Sorry for the sad tale, since, of course, it only makes your malady worse to have to face it.

bobbywolffSeptember 6th, 2016 at 3:49 pm

Hi Bruce,

You not only should be forgiven for your supposed overbid, I think it right on, since, particularly after passing originally, should man the torpedoes and aggressively jump to 4 spades in hopes of a favorable game swing.

And while “fit jumps” stand up to bridge scrutiny for accuracy, sometimes that same asset is passed on to one’s worthy opponents, who then, in turn, also do the right thing, just in case they have a heart suit worth contesting the result.

Bravo for your post, which speaks well of both your “feel” and competitiveness for what is an underrated talent and thus important in becoming a winning player.

jim2September 6th, 2016 at 4:33 pm

Okay, Dear Host. You just cashed one high trump and led small to the JS, and it holds.

Now what?

Do you come back to hand with a high trump and advance the KS? (transposing back to the original line)

Or, do you switch horses and lead a club to your marriage?

bobbywolffSeptember 6th, 2016 at 5:43 pm

Hi Jim2,

Since the opening diamond jack lead was overtaken by the queen, usually indicating the king (in order to be on lead in case declarer ducks the known ace) and then apparently holds the ace of spades (from table action after my lead to the king of spades, (no doubt, ducked quickly by the non ace holder) indicating, at least to me, that West not East is about 90% to hold the ace of clubs, otherwise either a TO dbl or a diamond overcall likely would have been chosen by East.

However, at this point there is not much I can do, but hope that East might fly with the ace of spades, fearing a singleton king in my hand in order to switch to a club. On that flying ace I would deposit the king he was hoping for and then if he, perhaps after cashing the diamond king switched to a club, West will have to divan out (without a legal signal from partner) that I indeed had a second spade in case the defense continued clubs.

Not much to be optimistic about, but still realistic to hope.

I picked up that part about your experience of dealing with bad breaking hands (no 2-2 heart break which will normally cause heartbreak, at least with this hand together with an unlucky spade break).

jim2September 6th, 2016 at 6:52 pm

If I understand correctly, what you said was that the opening lead over-take put the KQD in the East hand, that the duck of the small spade to the Board’s JS also put the AS in the East hand. Thus, that means the passing East does NOT have the AC so leading up to the KQC twice is not going to work.

(Additionally, if West DID have AS, then the hand is now cold anyway)

So, at that point you would play a heart to hand (hoping hearts were 2 – 2) and advance the KS (hoping spades were 3-3 or that West had 4 spades or that West had the heart singleton).

None of that works today, of course, because we have wondered into the TOCM ™ Zone.

Patrick CheuSeptember 6th, 2016 at 7:05 pm

Hi Bobby,South holding QT4 AT AKT A8762pairs NS vul,Dealer E..3S,what would you bid? Rightly or wrongly,I try 3N..E AKJ9853 762 7 QJ,W 6 KQJ43 Q862 T53,N 72 985 J9543 K54.As you can see the wheel came off in 3N on KH lead,or any lead,3S would be -1 n good score.Is it just a case of staying fixed,as not many open 3S on the East my clubs r not that good? regards~Patrick.

bobbywolffSeptember 7th, 2016 at 5:29 am

Hi Jim2,

Not much left to explain except if given a choice, it would always be better to lead the king of spades from hand, not allowing East to get a count signal (even or odd) before he decides whether to win the first spade or not. It, of course, is possible that South has a singleton king of spades together with one diamond and two club losers (Ace and King) off the top succeeding in making West (if holding the spade ace) to make that decision.

bobbywolffSeptember 7th, 2016 at 5:31 am

Hi again Jim2,

P;ease excuse.

I meant to say West get a count signal from East, not the other way around.

bobbywolffSeptember 7th, 2016 at 5:35 am

Hi Patrick,

You had a clear 3NT bid, although it worked out horribly. To even not consider bidding 3NT with the hand you held is totally ridiculous caution, and, at least to my way of thinking, a losing philosophy.

Sure there are many close decisions to either come in immediately over a preempt or, of course, not to. But faint heart never won either fair lady nor many bridge championships.

watch movies online iphone redditSeptember 10th, 2016 at 5:20 pm

And like i stated earlier, get onto your computer if you
happen to unintentionally click Download.

TishaFHeroutSeptember 11th, 2016 at 2:41 am

Good info. Lucky me I came across your site by accident (stumbleupon).
We have book-marked it for later!