Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, September 11th, 2017

No-one gets an iron-clad guarantee of success. Certainly, factors like opportunity, luck and timing are important. But the backbone of success is usually found in old-fashioned, basic concepts like hard work, determination, good planning and perseverance.

Mia Hamm

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


North has a hand slightly too strong for a direct raise of one heart. If not playing two over one, it looks better to bid diamonds, then raise hearts to invite game. If you play two over one, you can use the forcing no-trump planning to jump to three hearts next. Either way, you should reach four hearts, though North might briefly consider making a slam try en route to game. If a call of four diamonds shows a source of tricks, he is certainly worth it – consider that South might have the same hand with the diamond queen instead of the heart jack.

In four hearts on a spade lead South can see the danger of four top losers (three in clubs and one in spades). One possibility would be to take a diamond finesse — not a success as the cards lie, and not the right play in theory either. The correct line requires careful manipulation of the entries.

Best is to win the spade lead and play one top trump from hand. Then play the diamond ace and king, and ruff a diamond high. Lead a heart to the eight for another diamond ruff, then cross back to dummy to draw the last trump. Now the last diamond allows you to throw away a loser and you can take the club finesse for the overtrick. I hope you are pleased when it loses — that means that if you had mishandled the play, you would be down.

Your partner took no part in the auction so he surely does not have a decent red suit and values. If he did, he would have bid. Maybe the best chance to beat the game is to lead a club and hope declarer has only three? At pairs this hand is even harder, since a club lead is quite likely to cost a trick. I might lead the heart seven and hope to hit my partner’s length.


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