Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Wednesday, November 30th, 2016

How long soever it has continued, if it be against reason, it is of no force in law.

Sir Edward Coke

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


After a major-suit opening a simple raise usually shows seven to 10 points. Here, North has a maximum but only three weak trumps and the undesirable 4-3-3-3 distribution. South might drive to game or merely invite it, but either way it seems right to bid three diamonds. North indicates his balanced distribution and the weakness of his trumps by suggesting no-trump, but South overrules him.

After three rounds of spades, trumped in hand, South really only has to worry about his fourth diamond. He can achieve nothing by ruffing clubs and spades in hand – indeed all that might accomplish is the loss of trump control.

So declarer first tries to get a discard on a high club by leading to the king. When the ace turns out to be with East, there is no discard available.

When a club comes back, South wins in dummy, and can now afford to draw two rounds of trump, but must then leave one trump out in order to test diamonds. This line carries no risk, since if the diamonds break three-three, each opponent will follow suit and South will then be able to draw the last trump.

As it happens, the diamonds break four-two. Today’s South’s only chance to prevent the loss of a diamond is to ruff his last diamond in dummy. This can only be done if the player with the last trump also has length in diamonds, which happens to be the case.

Lucky? No, South has merely taken all his chances in sensible order.

If your spade king were a working card you might jump to four hearts now. As it is, standard bidding does not leave you enough space to describe a good hand for hearts below the level of three hearts. Perhaps the best solution is to double two spades, planning to retreat to three hearts to show your highcards plus heart tolerance. With only three small hearts you can afford to delay supporting partner.


♠ K 5 2
 6 3 2
 Q 7 3
♣ K Q 8 2
South West North East
Pass 1 ♠ 2 2 ♠

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


Iain ClimieDecember 14th, 2016 at 9:38 am

Hi Bobby,

Should east duck the club smoothly, perhaps playing the Jack so now he “can’t” have the Ace. A relieved South draws trumps and plays another club.



David WarheitDecember 14th, 2016 at 10:27 am

Iain: Yes, E should duck the first club, but if he does so, S should simply return to his hand with a heart and lead another club, resulting in the same shoes as recommended by our host, unless one defender has C A fifth.

I think 3NT is a slightly better contract. S would like H to be 3-2 or 4-1 with W having singleton 10 or J. If so, then 3NT makes if D are 3-3, or W has SA, or E’s opening lead is a black card (unless it is a club to W’s A and E has SA and W wins and shifts to a S), or E has D length (and again if W doesn’t have CA and E SA).

Iain ClimieDecember 14th, 2016 at 10:45 am

Also, East should lead the S7 back trying to look like he holds A1087 as West with 5 good spades and the CA might have overcalled.


Iain ClimieDecember 14th, 2016 at 12:32 pm

HI David,

Good analysis (as ever) but “give em rope” as the old saying goes. There is an extra concern though if spades are 5-3 and hearts are 3-2. Suppose West has the CA, jumps on the first one and leads another spade for east to ruff from (say) H10x or Jx. Now declarer is off with the D 3-3 but, if South draws two round of trumps before playing a club and East has the CA and three trumps, he takes the CA and kills the diamond ruff by a trump switch. South is still home with D3-3 or if the same hand controls both minors (after the club menace is isolated) but there seem to be quite a lot of extra possibilities to look at here.

Sorry Bobby, have I just taken the tin opener to the can marked WORMS?



bobby wolffDecember 14th, 2016 at 3:03 pm

Hi Iain & David,

At least on the surface, all comments by both of you stand up to scrutiny.

From our view, giving declarer the 9x of clubs, as we almost did, instead of just the 8x, creates still another chance to beard that lion, making it quite necessary for East to do as you suggest, duck the first club. And the beat goes on!

And WORMS might be the alternate spelling for GREMLINS, at least in bridge.