Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Saturday, July 1st, 2017

He sought the storms; but for a calm unfit,
Would steer too nigh the sands to boast his wit.

John Dryden

S North
None ♠ A K 8 5
 9 5 4
 A Q 6
♣ 6 5 4
West East
♠ Q 10 9
 J 10 8
 10 8
♣ K J 7 3 2
♠ J 4 3 2
 K 7
 J 9 4 3 2
♣ Q 8
♠ 7 6
 A Q 6 3 2
 K 7 5
♣ A 10 9
South West North East
1 Pass 1 ♠ Pass
1 NT Pass 3 NT All pass


An avoidance play relates to a position where it is important to keep one particular opponent off lead — because they have winners to cash, or can make a killing shift, while the other hand poses no such threat.

Here you play three no-trump rather than four hearts, when North sensibly eschews the 5-3 heart fit. On the lead of the club three, East plays the jack, and you duck. Now East plays a second club; should you win or duck again?

It is best to win; now to find a ninth trick you must set up hearts without letting West in; which means you need the king to be onside. If East has three hearts you can afford to finesse, then play ace and another heart. But what if he has the doubleton king? Then West would win the third heart.

To cater to both chances, cross to dummy and lead a low heart. If East plays the king, duck; if he plays low, finesse, then go back to dummy to repeat the exercise. If he plays low, rise with the ace; if he plays the king, you duck.

Do you see a counter to declarer’s play if he ducks the second club? On the third club East should dramatically discard the heart king. That way, declarer cannot establish hearts without letting West in.

This is why South should win the second club before embarking on the avoidance play. If East turns up with a third club, the suit is splitting 4-3 and the defense cannot take more than three club tricks.

It is a good idea to have a simple agreement. Every pass of a redouble sitting over the trumps is an attempt to play there. One possible exception is a pass of a support redouble; but I believe in all auctions of the sort shown here, where partner had a chance to make a cheap call and did not do so, then he wants to defend. So pass, and see which player at this table has lost his or her mind.


♠ A K 8 5
 9 5 4
 A Q 6
♣ 6 5 4
South West North East
  1 Pass Pass
Dbl. Rdbl 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