Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, June 19th, 2017

Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn and cauldron bubble.

William Shakespeare

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


Today you get to play four spades on the hand as shown, and then for a second time with a small change in the South hand.

On the deal as shown, I think the North hand should use Stayman rather than jumping straight to three no-trump, even though the latter contract might come home today.

After the lead of the diamond 10 against four spades, you can see three virtually inevitable heart losers. So you will need to find the spade queen onside. Is that the end of the story? Not quite. Your weak spades mean that you are virtually unable to protect yourself against a 4-1 spade break. The one singleton you can guard against is a singleton spade queen in West. So win the diamond lead in hand and lead towards the ace-jack, planning to put in the jack. When the queen pops up, you will be able to win, cash the spade jack, and finesse against East’s 10. If you start with the spade king, this option will not be open to you.

Now imagine you had the diamond six in your hand instead of the heart six. Again the defenders lead a diamond; how should you proceed? The answer is to win cheaply in hand and lead a spade to the ace, planning to play a spade back toward your K-9 and put in the nine if only small spades have appeared to this point. That allows you to make your game against any 4-1 spade break, unless a side-suit splits in totally unexpected fashion.

If you plan to lead a diamond, and I would, then the nine might help partner to decide if there is a future in that suit, or if he might be better off winning the diamond and shifting to clubs. I realize he might assume that we had short diamonds, but the auction and the sight of dummy is probably going to persuade him not to look for diamond ruffs in my hand.


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