Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, June 22nd, 2017

Act the way you’d like to be and soon you’ll be the way you act.

Leonard Cohen

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


Larry Cohen has written a teaching tool to improve your declarer play at no-trump you can find out more details at Today’s deal is from the book, and you are asked to form your plan in three no-trump after West leads the spade five, and East wins the ace to return the jack.

The first question is to decide how spades are breaking. When West follows with the spade three at trick two, it makes you think spades started out as five-three. You have eight top tricks: one spade, three hearts, two diamonds and two clubs. You can generate a ninth trick from a successful finesse in either diamonds or clubs. However, if you lose a finesse in either suit you will be defeated.

You have to try to combine your chances if you can. Since you don’t want to lose the lead, the best way to get two bites at the cherry is to cash the two top diamonds. This isn’t the percentage play in that suit, in abstract, since a finesse gives you better odds at even money. However, if the diamond queen drops, as it will one third of the time, you have 10 top tricks. If it doesn’t drop, you take the club finesse, after cashing the club ace to guard against a singleton queen offside.

So why to drop the diamond, not the club, queen? The reason is because you have eight diamonds and only seven clubs, so the likelihood of a doubleton queen in diamonds is higher than it would be in clubs.

Not every hand contains the possibility for game or slam. Your promising 18-count turned to dust and ashes, and you have no reason to assume that this is your hand anymore. If you were to bid one no-trump, you might expose your side to a large penalty, and redouble could be costlier still. I would simply pass and await developments; you may yet be able to re-open if the auction peters out.


♠ 7 6 4
 Q 5 4
 A K J 2
♣ A K J
South West North East
1 Pass Pass Dbl.

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