Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, February 23rd, 2018

Any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind; and therefore never send to ask for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.

John Donne

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


Today’s deal sees South able to respond two no-trump to one heart to show a balanced game force, rather than a game-forcing heart raise. This has no significant impact on the final contract — had South responded two diamonds, North might have raised the suit, letting South rebid three no-trump. In any event, when West leads a fourth-highest spade against the no-trump game, South wins cheaply, after which he must decide which red suit to go after, and what is the best way to develop that suit.

It looks logical to play on diamonds rather than hearts, doesn’t it? With so many combined honors in the eight-card fit, it would appear declarer needs only to find a normal lie of the diamonds to bring in four tricks. Leading the jack from hand will fail if East began with four diamonds to the king-10, so declarer leads low to the queen, West producing the five. (Low to the ace is also reasonable.)

When the diamond eight appears from East, the warning bell should go off! Declarer crosses back to hand with a top club and takes care not to lead the diamond jack, since East might have been sneakily contributing the eight from K-10-8-6! Instead, he leads low to dummy’s seven, assuming West follows with the six. Should this lose to East, declarer has a comfortable route to at least 10 tricks. If the diamond seven wins, as here, declarer should probably just set up his ninth trick from spades.

The two questions here are whether this hand is worth a drive to game, and if so, whether to mention the diamonds on the way to three no-trump, if there should be no eight-card spade fit. I say that the concentrated honors make it worthwhile to bid game, and that same factor argues for showing the diamonds and letting partner know the full story.


♠ A J 8 6 2
 7 4
 K J 7 5
♣ 6 3
South West North East
    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 2018. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact