Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, March 14th, 2017

Nobody gets justice. People only get good luck or bad luck.

Orson Welles

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

*heart support and a maximum pass


All the deals this week come from last year’s Spring NABC in Reno to mark the fact that this year’s event is currently taking place in Kansas City,

Today’s deal cropped up in the last set of an early Vanderbilt Knockout match. Three clubs might not seem a healthy spot, but you are not displeased to see the heart queen hit the table. When you try a club to the queen to your surprise and pleasure, it holds the trick. Things are definitely looking up! What should you do after taking the heart ace to pitch a spade from dummy?

At the table, West covered declarer’s heart nine, to force declarer to ruff in dummy. South next exited with the spade queen. West won, led a heart for his partner to ruff and back came the diamond jack. Now the contract could no longer be made.

At trick four it was necessary to take the diamond finesse, and only now should you exit with the spade queen. The defenders do best to let West win and play a second trump, which you win, to duck a club.

When East wins, his best move is to play back a heart to the 10 and jack, ruffed in dummy. South cannot afford to ruff a club now, since West would be able to over-ruff and exit in spades. Instead, declarer leads another club, and discards a spade on it. East is endplayed, either to set up a club or a spade for declarer’s ninth trick.

Your partner has set up a game force, then showed a really good hand with spades. You are far too good just to raise to four spades; a simple action is to jump to five spades, showing doubleton support and extras. Another option is to bid four hearts, a cuebid in support of spades. You would certainly be prepared to give up in four spades, if partner expresses no interest at his next turn.


♠ Q 10
 A Q 7 4 3
♣ K 9 7 5 2
South West North East
1 Pass 1 ♠ Pass
2 ♣ Pass 2 Pass
3 ♣ Pass 3 ♠ 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 2017. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact


Mircea1March 28th, 2017 at 5:50 pm

Hi Bobby,

On the column problem, what would be declarer’s thinking process to find the right play at trick four?

Second question, at BWTA, is 4NT Blackwood an option? If yes, it assumes the last bid suit (spades) as trump. I’ve read that this last suit bid agreement should be avoided and B/W used only when an explicit fit had been located. What is your opinion on this matter, please?

bobby wolffMarch 28th, 2017 at 6:22 pm

Hi Mircea1,

There is no magic potion to take in order to take the diamond finesse at trick four. It is only the ability to time the hand properly by planning ahead and when entries are scarce to one’s hand, then decide to do it now, without worrying too much if it would lose. BTW, since the queen of clubs lived and LHO did not lead the king of spades after opening the bidding, it was dollars to doughnuts that West had the king of diamonds.

Again, your second question (a good one) is also a question of feel. While 4 hearts by you, (although meant as a cue bid) can be misunderstood by partner I would NOT bid that, but either 5 spades by you or, if preferred a simple ace asking 4NT Blackwood, is a reasonable commitment to slam assuming your partnership is not off either two aces or two key cards.

Good luck and while playing sound bridge is always a challenge, do not despair and just bid what your good sense and heart tell you to do.