Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Wednesday, December 13th, 2017

No one believes more firmly than Comrade Napoleon that all animals are equal. He would be only too happy to let you make your decisions for yourselves. But sometimes you might make the wrong decisions, comrades, and then where should we be?


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

*Game-forcing heart raise


All finesses are equal — in that, in the absence of information to the contrary, they all have a theoretical 50 percent chance of success — but some are more equal than others.

Consider today’s deal, where there are five possible losers and four possible finesses to take in four hearts. But taking those finesses in the right order is the key to eliminating two of them.

West led the diamond queen, and South played low from dummy. He covered the continuation of the diamond jack, since the chance that East had the doubleton diamond ace was very small, whereas West might easily have found the shift to a club if left on lead — indeed, he could have done so at trick two. South ruffed the third diamond, drew trumps, then fell at the final hurdle when he finessed the club 10, losing to the jack. The queen held on the spade return, but when the second club finesse failed, the game was down.

After drawing trumps, ending in dummy, the unavoidable spade finesse should come next. When this wins, South is in business; he does not need either club finesse to succeed because he can arrange a strip and endplay. South takes the spade ace and enters dummy in trumps, and North’s last spade is ruffed in hand, reducing the North and South hands down to just clubs and trumps. Now a club to the 10 fixes East, who can win cheaply but must then either return a club into dummy’s tenace, or concede a ruff-and-discard.

It feels right to double two clubs, which simply shows extras and is not purely for penalty — even if you would like it to be! When the opponents have agreed on a suit, most low-level doubles show extras. Here, when partner removes the double, you plan to bid two no-trump, suggesting these values.


♠ K J 7 2
 A 10 6 4 2
♣ K J 4
South West North East
  Pass 1 Pass
1 ♠ Dbl. Pass 2 ♣

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