Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, July 6th, 2017

The terrorist and the policeman both come from the same basket.

Joseph Conrad

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


Today’s deal comes from Larry Cohen’s latest book: “Larry Cohen Teaches Declarer Play at No-trump”.

In three no-trump, on the lead of the diamond five, we don’t know whether diamonds are four-four. Let’s say RHO plays the diamond queen and we duck. There is no rush to take the diamond ace even if the hold-up doesn’t seem to serve a very useful purpose.

When East returns the diamond 10, we win with the ace, West contributing the diamond four (an honest card that helps you more than it helps East). Now what? Today, diamonds don’t appear to be four-four; if they were, West would have led the diamond four at trick one. It looks as if West started with five and East with three. If that is so, playing clubs will lead to instant defeat. The defense will win the club ace and run the diamond tricks.

Instead, we should take our only chance, which consists of playing on hearts. Of course, with only seven hearts between the two hands, the odds favor finessing as opposed to playing for the drop in hearts.

If the queen is onside, you will come to nine tricks. Admittedly, if the finesse loses, you will fail by two tricks, but taking the only chance is better than giving up.

By contrast on the initial lead of the diamond two, promising a four-card suit, you would win, and drive out the club ace. You would expect the defenders to be able to score three diamonds and an ace, but no more.

In this auction your re-opening double suggested extras, but your partner was known to be weak, therefore game is not really in the picture. So what does a call of two no-trump show? Not spades; instead it suggests two places to play – also described as a scramble. Bid three clubs, and let partner correct to three diamonds with the red suits, if necessary.


♠ Q 7
 A K J 8
 9 8 2
♣ K Q J 10
South West North East
      1 ♠
Dbl. 2 ♠ Pass Pass
Dbl. Pass 2 NT 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