Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Saturday, April 29th, 2017

A man of action forced into a state of thought is unhappy until he can get out of it.

John Galsworthy

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


As West, you lead the diamond queen against four spades, partner discouraging with the four. Declarer wins the ace, plays the spade ace-king, dropping your queen, and crosses to the spade jack, your partner following with the nine, six and 10.

Now the club queen is run round to your king as your partner plays the five, and declarer the seven. How do you plan the defense?

South has 18 points outside hearts (the club ace, plus the top diamonds and spades). He must therefore hold either the heart king or queen. Your partner’s small club suggests an original three-card holding (he should play the six from a four-card suit). Also, the fact that he did not play the spade 10 on the first round of trump suggests he has the heart queen not the king – given that his signal in trump should be suit preference not count.

So it cannot be right to switch to hearts, playing East to hold the king. If declarer has four clubs, then he surely either has a doubleton heart or doubleton diamond; to have any hope to beat the hand, you must place him with the latter.

So, exit passively with a club or diamond. Declarer will cash his minor-suit winners ending in dummy, and lead a heart from dummy, hoping the ace is right or that he can duck the trick to you. But provided your partner is awake, he will rise with the queen or 10 when a heart is led from dummy. The defenders will then score three heart tricks to defeat the game.

In these positions it is always worth considering whether to re-open with a double when you are relatively short in the opponents’ suit. Here your doubleton club king argues that partner does not have a penalty double of clubs, so he must be weak. Equally, your shortness in spades suggests you don’t want to double and hear anyone bid spades – do you? So I would pass.


♠ Q 4
 A J 9 3
 Q J 10 3 2
♣ K 8
South West North East
1 2 ♣ 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 2017. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact


ClarksburgMay 13th, 2017 at 8:34 pm

Quiet here today…so..a question:
Matchpoints, NS Vul, Opponents are silent

North KJ83 K108 KJ43 98 (Dealer)
South Q106 Q76 Q852 KQ5

In two local Clubs, total of 16 plays, it was passed out 9 times; not good Board for NS.

We would appreciate your comments on:
Was South’s third-hand Pass reasonable, or a clear error?
If South does open, presumably 1D, what should North do?
Your general thoughts on how this auction should go.

Bobby WolffMay 14th, 2017 at 3:32 am

Hi Clarksburg

Although many of the good modern pairs would open EITHER hand in 2017, I would guess the bidding at our table (playing against an English pair) would go:


HOWEVER, if the seating was reversed and I was sitting North in the third chair, I would open 1S whether playing five card majors or not. Nothing more to say other than the above is what I feel to be maximum strategy.

NedMay 17th, 2017 at 12:49 pm

area, reach for a chocolate snack bar.