Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Saturday, December 16th, 2017

You don’t have to be a mathematician to have a feel for numbers.

John Forbes Nash

E North
Both ♠ Q
 Q 4 3
 J 10 6 5 2
♣ A K Q 7
West East
♠ A 9 7 8 6 2
 9 8 6
 Q 8
♣ 10 4
♠ K 5 3
 J 7
 A K 9 4
♣ J 6 3 2
♠ J 10 4
 A K 10 5 2
 7 3
♣ 9 8 5
South West North East
1 1 ♠ 2 Dbl.*
2 2 ♠ 4 All pass

*Three spades


Today’s deals comes from the Chicago Nationals nearly 20 years ago. You play four hearts on the lead of the diamond queen and a diamond continuation to the 10 and ace.

East continues with the diamond nine, which you guess to ruff with the 10, and to your relief, it holds. Now you draw three rounds of trumps ending in dummy, East showing the doubleton. You ruff out the diamond, cross to a top club and cash the 13th diamond.

In the four-card ending, dummy has the spade queen and ace-king-third of clubs; what four cards do you have in hand?

Before you decide the answer to that question, it is time to work out the full count on the hand. East has shown three spades by his support double, together with two hearts, and thus is 4-4 in the minors. You have missed your chance to make your game if you did not cross to dummy by leading the club nine or eight at the previous trick. So your last four cards should be a high and low club and the jack-10 of spades.

If you remembered to do so, you can unblock your second club spot from hand, under dummy’s second club winner, hoping that the club jack or club 10 falls on your left, as it does. You can be confident that East has already been squeezed down to the bare spade ace or king, and you can now endplay him with it to lead clubs into dummy’s tenace.

Some 8-counts are not worth a further move after partner completes the transfer to a major. This hand is an exception, since your intermediates (even in clubs!) are all worth something, and the spade and heart 10s represent almost a full point between them. So invite game with a call of two no-trump, or drive to three no-trump if feeling adventurous.


♠ J 10 4
 A K 10 5 2
 7 3
♣ 9 8 5
South West North East
  Pass 1 NT Pass
2 Pass 2 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


A.V.Ramana RaoDecember 30th, 2017 at 12:16 pm

Hi Dear Mr. Wolff
Pardon me but I think there is a minor flaw in the analysis. The following is the five card position before the fifth diamond is cashed

♠ Q
♥ —
♦ J
♣ K Q 7

♠ A 9 7 8
♦ —
♣ 10 ♠ K 5
♥ —
♦ —
♣ J 6 3

♠ J 10 4
♥ —
♦ —
♣9 5

When fifth diamond is cashed from dummy which card south discards? His hand gets squeezed. If he discards a spade, west can overtake east’s K and return a spade. If he discards a club, and dummy plays spade, west overtakes east’s K and returns club . So Dummy should cash second high club and then only lead fifth diamond .And now everything works perfectly. East has to keep two clubs and singleton diamond. It does not matter which one . South simply discards club and leads spade. If east wins, dummy gets two club tricks and if west overtakes, south gets two spade tricks
Thanks and regards

A.V.Ramana RaoDecember 30th, 2017 at 12:18 pm

Please read East has to keep two clubs and singleton spade instead of singleton diamond

bobbywolffDecember 30th, 2017 at 1:38 pm


No doubt the winning ending is for North (dummy) to have: s. Q, c. A6, East to have:
s. K, c. J6, West to have only s. A98 and South to have: s. J10, c. 5.

Yes, declarer must play two high clubs from dummy, throwing his 9 and 8, otherwise East can stick him in his hand after cashing the king of spades.

The writing may have confused you by discussing the 4 card ending, but if so, it merely referred to the importance of jettisoning the 9 and then the 8 of clubs, before confidently leading the spade queen from dummy and let the defense suffer.

I feel like saying support doubles loses again by allowing astute opponents to know how to guess these hands by the specific information passed, otherwise declarer could play East for one less club (3-3 break) and one more spade when I merely raise 1 spade to 2.

Like the wartime caveat: “Loose lips sink ships”, support doubles often allow both double dummy play as declarer, plus even more so, more deft bidding by opponents who hear a “support double” are then looking at three of that suit themselves and hear the spade bidder go back to the minor, telling both opponents that they each have three of that suit.

Sometimes those secrets are better left kept secret so that opponents do not play (here, nor bid, above described) quite as well. against you.

bobbywolffDecember 30th, 2017 at 1:41 pm


Please forgive, since North will wind up with clubs: A7 not A6. Gremlins at work spelled DUMB on my part.