Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, April 13th, 2017

And trust me not at all or all in all.

Alfred, Lord Tennyson

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


If a partner you can normally trust does something seemingly strange in defense, it is worthwhile to pause and ask yourself why.

When West led the spade king against four hearts, East followed with the seven and declarer with the nine. Now West knew East’s seven was either a singleton or top of a doubleton – the start of an echo. After the spade ace held the second trick, the full spade position was clear.

At the next trick came the play that put East under the microscope, when West continued with the spade queen, apparently setting up dummy’s suit.

East could count on three tricks for the defense – the two already in the bag, plus the ace of trumps. It was possible, if unlikely, that West held the club ace – if South had held all the missing heart honors plus good diamonds, he would likely have bid in just the same way. But East felt that West would then have cashed the club ace at trick three, since the risk of declarer discarding his clubs on the spades would have been evident.

The only other plausible scenario was that West held jack-third or queen doubleton in trumps. If that were so, East would need to utilize his trump ace right now. If he did not, declarer would cross to dummy and lead a heart, and East’s ace would beat empty air. So East ruffed his partner’s spade queen with the trump ace – and now West had a second trump winner to defeat the game.

I’m not sure a simple raise to three clubs will suffice here. Your partner came into a live auction, in a situation where you had implicitly denied values. He is likely to be 5-5 or have real extra values, and you should jump to four clubs to give your partner a chance to bid game.


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