Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, March 27th, 2018

The poet must become more comprehensive, more allusive, more indirect, in order to force, to dislocate if necessary, language into its meaning.

T.S. Eliot

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


This is another deal from Kit Woolsey’s excellent new book, “The Language of Bridge.”

As East, you see your partner lead the heart queen; how do you get him to do the right thing after that?

You know the correct defense is for partner to lead a diamond through dummy so that the defense can take their four red-suit tricks, assuming declarer has at least two cards in each red suit — if he doesn’t, you surely have no chance to set the game.

The problem is that a club shift may look more attractive to partner than a diamond shift. So you need to help partner with suit-preference signals.

The answer is to win the heart ace at trick one and return the heart nine. Partner will know that you have the heart king when declarer doesn’t win the second trick, and he will also know that you clearly want him to shift to a minor. Since you had the choice between the heart ace and the heart king at trick one, the combination of your play of the heart ace plus the nine should be suit preference for the higher suit, diamonds. As you can see, the diamond shift is necessary if declarer has the club king and is 2-2 in the minors.

Had you wanted a club shift (switch the diamond queen and club king), you would have taken the heart king at trick one and returned the heart two, again using suit preference to distinguish between the two minors.

I might not open this hand in first or second seat, but in third seat I would open one diamond and try to get my best suit into play. I see no reason to be ashamed of my values, and anytime I have spades, I always feel like I have to contribute my two cents’ worth.


♠ J 7 4 2
 8 5
 K J 10 9
♣ A Q 3
South West North East
    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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