Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, January 5th, 2018

The more things a man is ashamed of, the more respectable he is.

George Bernard Shaw

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


This deal is one of my favorite defensive problems, despite my being on the wrong end of it. (I sat East when it came in a long-ago Vanderbilt match.)

Put yourself in the West seat. Your partner opens one club in second seat, and you end up defending three spades — you don’t have to like it, but since four hearts your way on a spade lead would not have come home, at least you now have a chance for a plus score.

Against three spades, you lead your singleton club, and partner takes his ace as declarer follows with the six. Partner returns the club eight, declarer produces the king, and you ruff. What next?

Declarer’s shape is virtually known to be 6-2 in the black suits. Given that, you can set the contract for sure if declarer is 6-2-3-2 (partner has a spade trick, you have a heart trick plus the diamond ace, and you already have two club tricks in the bag). And if partner has no spade honor, he certainly has at least one diamond trick.

But what if your partner’s hand consists of a 4-2-2-5 pattern with the club honors, the spade ace and the diamond jack?

This would mean that declarer will pull through by squashing both your spade jack and partner’s diamond jack — unless you find the low diamond switch at trick three. Then your partner can arrange a diamond ruff when in with his trump winner. This was indeed the actual layout; alas, the rationale for the diamond switch only emerged in the post mortem.

When the opponents pass you out in a low-level doubled contract, assume they are right unless your own hand informs you to the contrary. Here, the spades are stacked over your partner, but one of the minors may provide a safe haven. Redouble for rescue, and let your partner find a better spot — if there is one.


♠ 6
 J 9 8
 10 8 6 3
♣ J 9 4 3 2
South West North East
Pass 1 1 ♠ Pass
Pass Dbl. Pass 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 2018. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact

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