Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, July 21st, 2017

If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.

Romans, New Testament

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


On this hand from the 1995 World Junior Championships the two instructive themes are firstly to try to cherish your partner, and secondly that you may be able to protect him from the consequences of his error, if you do not allow emotion to get in the way.

When West led the club eight, (third highest from three or four cards) Andrew Moss as East won his queen and had to decide what to do next.

He saw that if the defense could play three rounds of spades it would promote a trump trick for the defense. So Moss switched to the spade queen; when he followed up with the spade king, he made it easy for his partner to work out to overtake and play a third spade.

Arguably, this is no more than routine good technique. But what if (as happened at some tables) your partner, having overdone the Sunday lunch, supinely plays low on the second spade?

As East you know declarer has all the top red-suit cards, and that he cannot ruff any spades in dummy. Since you can see at least two club tricks for him, declarer must have a 4-5-2-2 shape for the play so far to make any sense. Switch back to a club now, to break up a squeeze on your partner in the black suits.

If you play back a diamond for example, declarer takes his seven red suit winners and the last trump forces your partner to concede. By breaking up a squeeze on your partner, you should earn plenty of brownie points.

In third seat this hand surely qualifies for an opening bid. There are some hands where you would bid the major, planning to pass the response, but here since neither a one club nor one heart opener stop the opponents from bidding spades, I would open my best suit and thus bid one club. I’d plan to rebid one no-trump if my partner responds one spade – this is not a hand to be ashamed of.


♠ 8 5
 K 10 9 3
 K 7 3
♣ A J 10 3
South West North East
    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


Bruce karlsonAugust 4th, 2017 at 11:41 am

The cheap seats opine: Suppose E leads the SK at the appointed hour. Should a non sonombulant W overtake immediately. Either E has a sole K or it is with South. Either way, having built a C entry, that seems to work. True?

Bruce karlsonAugust 4th, 2017 at 12:14 pm

Sorry.. got ahead of myself….again.

Bobby WolffAugust 4th, 2017 at 4:45 pm

Hi Bruce,

For East to have a lone king, declarer would have 5 and therefore the bidding likely very different.

A key to me is that if normally when holding the
KQ the king is led, so then the lead of the queen first and then the king should show a doubleton and awake a snoozing partner as to his defensive responsibility to overtake and continue. True, the fact that partner did not double 2 spades is strange, but perhaps he regarded that as equivalent to a raise, and since he only had 2 of them he chose to decline.

High level bridge (especially defensive communication) continues to be full of relatively small clues which in an aspiring partnership acts as the difference in moving up the ranks on the way to reaching a higher level. As a defender it is necessary to keep one’s ears (bidding or lack of it) and eyes (opening lead and what follows) wide open to both positive and negative inferences which serve as guides to an otherwise very lonely partner when one doesn’t.

Note: Counting and on today’s hand, tells West that it is highly unlikely that declarer has 5 spades to the queen, if East does switch to the king first.