Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, December 29th, 2017

Don’t keep a man guessing too long — he’s sure to find the answer somewhere else.

Mae West

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


When South opens one no-trump, North drives directly to the no-trump game. If North’s diamonds were exchanged with his spades or hearts, he would show his major on the way to three no-trump, to offer a choice of games.

After a spade lead, South must put up dummy’s spade queen, his only chance to win a trick with that card. East covers the queen with the king, and South must hold up his ace twice, hoping to exhaust East of his spades. When East errs by playing a third spade (yes, a club would defeat the game), South wins and is one trick short of his contract. Sooner or later, South needs an additional trick in hearts. But South begins by running four of the diamonds in case the defenders err again or come under real pressure.

South must leave a diamond entry to dummy, since it would be pointless to develop a heart trick if he could not reach it. He lays down the heart ace, then leads a low heart toward dummy. When West plays low, declarer must decide whether to play the queen or the 10 from the dummy.

This may look like a guess, but South actually has no choice. If West had the heart king, he would take it immediately and cash out his good spades. South must therefore assume that East has the heart king. The only hope is to insert dummy’s heart 10, in the hope that West has the jack. When the 10 forces the king, South gets his extra heart trick and his contract.

In modern Standard American, where the two-overone response is game forcing, the best way for opener to define his hand at his second turn is to rebid two no-trump, to show 12-14 or 18-plus balanced. Meanwhile, a jump to three no-trump would suggest 15-17 and a semibalanced hand. That being so, simply raise to three no-trump, knowing partner will bid on with extras.


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