Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, October 2nd, 2017

Catch-22…specified that a concern for one’s own safety in the face of dangers that were real and immediate was the product of a rational mind.

Joseph Heller

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

*game forcing with spade support


In today’s deal from a head to head match there were contrasting approaches taken by the two declarers in four spades. One relaxed, envisaging that there were just three aces to lose, and consequently went down without a fight, while the other recognized the danger signals and took careful evasive action.

At both tables South ended in four spades, and in each case the lead was a small heart, allowing East to take his ace and return the suit. That let declarer win in hand and take it from there.

At one table South simply played a spade toward dummy’s king. West won, and returned a heart for his partner to ruff. The diamond ace was the setting trick.

The second declarer, seeing the lead of the heart three, suggesting five in West’s methods, immediately played on clubs. He overtook his second honor with dummy’s ace, throwing a heart from his hand on the club jack.

It would have been easy to relax now and play a spade to the queen and ace, but South saw the risks associated with that. West could have won and played a third heart, to promote a trump for his partner.

Instead, South ruffed a heart back to hand and led a low spade toward the dummy. It now did not matter if West went up with the ace and played a third heart, as he did, hoping his partner had the spade queen instead of the jack. As the cards lay, declarer was safe against any defense.

There is no need to panic just because the opponents have bid game. Your target at teams is to set the game, but at pairs, perhaps, to hold the overtricks if you cannot beat it. Since neither a club nor heart lead is in any way safe, you might as well go for the lead that carries the bigger reward if it is right; and surely a low club is more likely to set the game.


♠ J 2
 Q 3 2
 J 6 5
♣ K 10 8 5 3
South West North East
    Pass 1 ♠
Pass 2 Pass 2 ♠
Pass 4 ♠ 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