Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Saturday, March 10th, 2018

Out of the crooked timber of humanity, no straight thing was ever made.

Immanuel Kant

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

*16 or more


Today’s deal might make you instinctively smell a rat when you are given the North-South hands and told to make six hearts. Since there appear to be 12 tricks on top if the diamonds break, you should immediately assume that the suit will not behave. The likelihood of the bad break is, of course, increased by the opponents pre-empting against you.

But try to take a less cynical approach and construct a line of play that allows you to make against both normal and abnormal breaks.

After the lead of the spade king to the ace, it seems normal to draw trumps. You lead a heart to the ace, and when both opponents follow, you ruff a spade high and draw a second and third trump. Now come the three top clubs, ending in dummy, and when West follows suit each time, you can be confident he has at most two diamonds; but what if he has a singleton? If that is so, you can cover some but not all of the bases by leading a low diamond from dummy and playing small from hand whatever East does. As the cards lie, if he plays an honor, he is immediately endplayed, while if he plays low, it is West who will win and be endplayed.

Note that West must take the blame for this defensive debacle — not because he didn’t lead a diamond himself, but because he did not discard his diamond nine on the second or third trump. Had he done so, East’s diamonds are good enough to avoid the endplay.

While it is perfectly possible that nine tricks are the limit of the hand in spades, you certainly have enough to move on to game. The question is which game to attempt. I think four spades will play better facing any hand that has a singleton — be it in hearts, diamonds or clubs. So I would bid four spades, not three no-trump.


♠ A
 10 9 8 6 3
 A 10 5 2
♣ Q 10 7
South West North East
    1 ♠ Pass
1 NT Pass 3 ♠ 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