Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, December 28th, 2017

The easiest way to be cheated is to believe yourself to be more cunning than others.

Pierre Charon

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


Today’s auction was straightforward enough, with North deciding not to beat around the bush with a cue-bid en route to what he thought was his side’s best contract. As you can see, three no-trump by North can be defeated on a club lead, but perhaps a less precipitate route would have left open the option to play that game if appropriate.

Be that as it may, West led a heart against four spades. Declarer saw two possible losers in clubs and one each in diamonds and spades. The bidding marked West with very little, but as long as he held either the diamond king or club ace, the contract seemed safe. Similarly, if East held the spade king, all would be well.

Problems would only materialize if West held the spade king and reasoned (as he surely would) that he should win and push a club through dummy’s tenace. Having worked all of this out, South realized he could take advantage of the fact that West couldn’t see East’s cards.

So declarer won the opening lead in hand and followed with the spade queen. Now consider West’s problem: It looked for all the world as if East had the trump ace, and based on the bidding, that card would surely be bare. So he played low, and the queen won. After playing off the spade ace, declarer followed up with a diamond finesse. East took his king and returned a heart. But now South could pitch his losing clubs on dummy’s diamonds. West could ruff the fourth with his master trump, but by now it was too late.

Partner is asking for more information with fourth suit forcing. Your choice is to rebid two diamonds, emphasizing your shape, or two no-trump to show the club stopper. Here, the diamonds are so strong you should rebid them, both because it is economical and because you can show the stopper later.


♠ 10 9 7 5
 K 4
 A Q 10 9 4
♣ K 4
South West North East
1 Pass 1 Pass
1 ♠ 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


David WarheitJanuary 11th, 2018 at 11:36 am

You say that 3NT by N can be defeated with a club lead. True enough, but it can also be defeated by a spade lead, a heart lead (even the Q or the J) and by a diamond lead. In short, E can defeat 3NT by leading any card in his hand–except for the DK.

Iain ClimieJanuary 11th, 2018 at 12:03 pm

HI Bobby,

I’m a little surprised at North today. First he passes what looks like a perfectly good opening bid but then he punts 4S when the HKx looks like it could be waste paper and suggests caution. Nice piece of play by South, though.



bobbywolffJanuary 11th, 2018 at 12:57 pm

Hi David,

Yes, North not opening the bidding is quite a surprise. Since we had no record, at least to my knowledge, of who the players were, North may well have been a Roth-Stone advocate (strong opening one bids).

Also, the comment of 3NT going down on a club lead from East, while true, had no real meaning and, no doubt, would have been better off left unsaid. Overall grade given: D minus or slightly worse! King of diamonds, anyone?

bobbywolffJanuary 11th, 2018 at 1:27 pm

Hi Iain,

Yes, North seemed a strong personality, dedicated to making his own minority decisions, However, the very clever play of the queen of spades by declarer, possibly not recommended for matchpoints, is indeed, at least IMO, nothing short of brilliant while playing either rubber bridge or IMPs.

West, as I, no doubt sadly would, fall victim
to a daring, but very thoughtful, and cunning play. Is there such a thing as being infallible, some partner may then ask? I wish yes, but in my heart of hearts know full well, a resounding NO is the answer and have way too many losses to prove it.

And, on another issue, suppose declarer’s queen of spades, traveled around to East who gathered up his singleton king who had been dealt: s. K, h. QJ9xxxx d. xxx, c. AQ. Would, no I will say, should North compliment his partner for losing 4 tricks in the play?

I suppose the answer lies in whether his queen of spades play was both daring and brilliant (worked, and I think very high percentage, right) as opposed to downright stupid, what it will likely be thought to be, by many less thoughtful partners.

PeterJanuary 11th, 2018 at 3:34 pm

hi Bobby

Been there done that! But the corollary play.

Slightly different, but more difficult to hold, I held Kx doubleton, both high spades crashed…

bobbywolffJanuary 11th, 2018 at 4:47 pm

Hi Peter,

OK, you fell for it once, but you would be much more wary the next time, since that play almost never should be made, and only this time from a combination of several different factors.

No doubt, our great game, lives and thrives on among other things numerate logic, so why would a declarer ever lead the queen while also holding the ace and the king being with the enemy.

We’ve now seen the hand, but for me it took about 70 years. Sure sometimes the king is the correct play to make, when partner holds the ace (and at least one more), but you need to secure the lead right away, but almost never when the declarer also has the ace.