Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, October 18th, 2016

If you start out with a tragic view of life, then anything since is just a bonus.

Freeman Dyson

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


The combination of a two club opener and two no-trump rebid shows a balanced 22 to 24 points. North should happily raise to game without looking for more.

After a heart lead South must count his tricks before playing from dummy. He can reasonably expect to win two spades, two hearts, and one diamond. The simplest way to bring home the contract is to take four tricks in clubs. He must win the heart ace to preserve dummy’s entry; what now?

It might look normal to cash the club ace and queen and then enter dummy with the heart king in order to continue the clubs. This will produce all five club tricks if the suit breaks threethree. But it will produce only three club tricks if either opponent holds four clubs to the jack (or 10) since there is no re-entry to dummy after establishing the suit.

South can give himself an extra chance by cashing the club ace, then overtaking the queen with the dummy’s king. This will work if clubs are 3-3, although in this case South will take only four club tricks instead of five.

However, South’s extra chance lies in the fact that East’s initial club holding may have been the doubleton jack or 10, as in the diagram. If declarer has overtaken his queen he can now lead the club nine to force out the remaining high club. This way the rest of dummy’s clubs will be established, with the heart king as a sure entry.

You are dead minimum for the auction so far, but you do have a heart stopper. Should you bid two no-trump now, show your club feature, or revert to three diamonds? I say that bidding two no-trump now makes sense, showing less than a jump to three no-trump. With better or longer clubs you might do more, but I can’t see how you can make game unless partner comes again.


♠ 8 4
 K 5
 6 5 4 2
♣ K 9 8 5 2
South West North East
  Pass 1 1
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 2016. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact


BryanNovember 1st, 2016 at 1:29 pm

If due to TOCM, when leading the Q clubs, West shows out showing that clubs will not break . What is the best way to continue forward? I assume plan b is to leave the K clubs in dummy and try and make an extra trick in Diamonds? If so how?

bobby wolffNovember 1st, 2016 at 3:28 pm

Hi Bryan,

A well thought possible strategy should one encounter what certainly appears a rainy day when West shows out on the second round of clubs he then, because of his 4 of hearts lead and according to the rule of eleven only have three cards above the four (which he led) he would have led a higher one had he had six (or more) so that West is likely to have at least 2 diamonds, leaving the only possible legitimate holding the KQ doubleton diamond, so lead the eight of diamonds now, possibly enticing him to rise if holding only K7, but of course also KQ. Then hope for a miracle on a later round when you may have to guess between that mistake by West or the original KQ doubleton.

However, while playing duplicate tournament bridge, it is better to settle for down one rather than risk down 2 since every other NS pair should be in 3NT, likely with the same heart lead so down one might be at least an average score while down 2 will be a tie for zero.

No doubt bad luck here (TOCM or not) but mitigating one’s losses is a hallmark of a successful duplicate bridge player which often requires many adjustments to play once evidence continues to show up while both declaring and defending.

Thanks for the question,

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