Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Saturday, April 8th, 2017

We never do anything well till we cease to think about the manner of doing it.

William Hazlitt

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


South’s two club opening bid and two no-trump rebid shows a balanced 22 to 24 points, letting North pass gratefully.

South ducks West’s spade lead in dummy, taking East’s king with his ace. He now has two spade tricks, two in hearts, and at best three in clubs. Where will his eighth come from?

South starts by leading the club jack, hoping that West will duck the trick even if he shouldn’t. When the jack holds, he continues with ace and another club and West wins his king.

West has a safe exit in the form of the heart jack. Declarer wins, and cashes the 13th club, discarding a heart from the board. When West pitches the spade three, South must now get out from his hand, with a fairly good idea that West began with five spades and three clubs.

It looks natural to exit with king and another heart, but if he does, East will cash the 13th heart, and declarer’s hand will be squeezed.

Best may be to play West for the doubleton ace or king of diamonds (much more likely than that East has passed a hand with both top diamonds plus some major stuffing in third seat, non-vulnerable). So declarer exits with a low diamond from hand. When East wins cheaply, he does best to lead a second diamond to West’s bare king. But now, when West plays his heart 10, South ducks, wins the next heart, and plays queen and another spade. West must win and concede trick 13 to dummy’s 10.

You will probably feel torn here between raising diamonds and making a negative double, to get hearts into the picture. In a way, four hearts is almost as likely to be the best game for your side as five diamonds, with three no-trump an outsider. My guess would be to double, planning to bid diamonds at my next turn at the three or four level if the opponents compete.


♠ J
 Q 8 5 4
 A J 9 7 4
♣ 10 7 6
South West North East
    1 1 ♠

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


jim2April 22nd, 2017 at 11:55 am

Declarer discarded a heart from dummy on the 13th club.

So, when West leads the 10H when in with the KD, dummy must follow with the 9H. This gives East an easy over-take with the QH, as s/he also has the 8H.

Now if South ducks, East can run diamonds. If South wins and plays spades, West still has a heart exit card.

Bobby WolffApril 22nd, 2017 at 1:56 pm

Hi Jim2,

Your Eagle (eye) has landed! Yes, South should have discarded a diamond from dummy on the 13th club instead of the heart since, as it turned out, the nine of hearts became needier to stay alive, than did the ten of diamonds.

No one ever said that proceeding through a tedious hand, whether playing or reporting, especially while wrestling with a part score when tricks appear to be traded off, each play may require exactness, (usually having to be guessed), which in turn only adds to the tedium by slowing down the play to a snail’s pace.

Hooray for bridge and its card for card detailed intrigue, but condolences for kibitzers, who are required to endure the time it takes to achieve perfection.

Finally, thanks to you for realistically and deftly illustrating a case in point.

jim2April 22nd, 2017 at 2:40 pm

One Q: why cash the 13th club then?

(this would allow preserving both dummy red cards)

bobby wolffApril 22nd, 2017 at 7:44 pm

Hi Jim2,

While you are on the right track, there is always a possibility that a not alert defender will throw the wrong card (such as West in this example if he had a major honor third in diamonds and threw one, allowing himself to get end played later). Also it is difficult to see where declarer, in this specific case, can lose by discarding a diamond in dummy from 10xx.

However, no one can realistically dispute your solution.