Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Saturday, November 19th, 2016

Depend upon it sir, when a man knows he is to be hanged in a fortnight, it concentrates his mind wonderfully.

Samuel Johnson

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


Today’s deal requires some careful thought and complex maneuvering – and it is not helped by the fact that at first glance your contract appears to be safe, so you could be forgiven for a spot of premature euphoria.

Declaring four spades, you receive the opening lead of the heart 10 to East’s jack. That player takes the heart king and ace, then shifts to the diamond jack. When you win the diamond ace you should recognize that the only possible problem is a 4-0 trump break. If East has all four spades there is nothing can be done. But when West has four cards you should take a line that does not rely on diamonds breaking — a dummy reversal. (What that means in layman’s terms is to score extra trump tricks by ruffing in the long rather than the short hand.)

The first move is to cash the club ace. The next hurdle is to lead the spade nine to the ace, witnessing the bad break, and ruff a club with the spade eight. Now the spade two is led: West must split his honors, and the king wins in dummy. You can ruff the last club with the spade seven, then finesse dummy’s six. At this point the spade queen draws the last trump and takes care of the diamond four from your hand.

The last two tricks are taken by your high diamonds, and your 10 tricks consist of four trumps in dummy, four top side-suit winners and two ruffs in hand.

It is not my task to lead my readers down the primrose path to vice. But I would feel quite strongly here that there is no practical alternative to a one spade opener in third seat (or even in fourth seat perhaps). In bridge one must not only bid one’s own cards but make the opponents’ life harder. Bidding your best suit, while preempting the opponents a little is often a good idea, and especially here.


♠ A K Q 6
 Q 6 4
 7 5 2
♣ J 10 5
South West North East
    Pass 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