Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Wednesday, May 2nd, 2018

Brazil? He twirled a button
Without a glance my way:
But, madam, is there nothing else
That we can show today?

Emily Dickinson

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

*Spades and a minor


Gabriel Chagas is one of the few players to have won the three major world teams championships as well as the World Open Pairs. Forty years ago, he wrote a Bols bridge tip to alert players to the intra-finesse, using this hand to illustrate his point.

Against four spades, the defense begins with three rounds of hearts, South ruffing the third. The success of the game hinges on not losing more than one trump trick. Under normal circumstances, you would lead toward the queen after cashing the ace. But here, East is known to hold the king, by virtue of his opening call of one no-trump.

There are two sensible lines of play that declarer should consider. The first is that East might have started with the doubleton spade king, in which case declarer can drive it out without wasting the queen. The other possibility is that West holds the doubleton 10 or jack, so an intrafinesse will be the winning move.

Start by leading a spade to the nine, which lets East win with the jack to return the club queen. Now declarer ruffs a club to hand and discovers that East also began with a doubleton club.

Although East might be 2-4-5-2 for his one no-trump opening bid, 3-4-4-2 is a far more likely shape. So, declarer leads a diamond to dummy’s ace and advances the spade queen. Since West’s 10 falls under the queen, whether East covers or not, declarer holds his trump losers to one and has succeeded in his task.

This hand comes down to the Law of Total Tricks. When you cue-bid two hearts, you showed a limit raise with at least three trumps. (Some pairs might have a way to show a limit raise with four trumps, but we do not.) You should assume your partner does not have enough to bid to three spades, and your balanced hand argues for defending, as you have only three trumps. So pass three hearts.


♠ Q 9 2
 6 5 4
 A Q 3
♣ K 8 4 3
South West North East
  1 1 ♠ Dbl.
2 3 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


A V Ramana RaoMay 16th, 2018 at 11:35 am

Hi Dear Mr. Wolff
The theme of intrafinesse demonstrated nicely. Just wondering whether west erred by playing small. If he plays spade ten when south leads spade, south does not have option but to play Q ( he cannot play small in case east holds K J) . Now east wins with K and returns a spade and south will face his moment of truth and perhaps may err ( east is known to hold K of spades but there is no certainty about J)

bobbywolffMay 16th, 2018 at 2:24 pm


Your keen analysis, no doubt, will provoke further thinking on Gabriel’s innovative discovery of what is now called the intra-finesse. However, there are interesting detours on the Yellow Brick road to success.

Since declarer (at trick two) has started by leading a spade to the queen, and assuming you rise with the 10 (in order to create the losing option for declarer you seek), but then that devious Dame of Fortune who deals the cards has made sure that East started with AJ7 instead of KJ7 (TOCM TM, anyone?) allowing declarer a winning option, instead of not.

However, when and if West does falsecard the 10 declarer still has to make a very difficult guess as to what to do, including playing you for J10 doubleton or possibly even the singleton 10 if his spade spots would be good enough to beard that lion.

Many declarer hands have multiple options this certainly being one of them, and for both sides, but, of course, one’s partner and/or teammates could never approve allowing a totally no-play game to succeed, but however, I, for one, would have great sympathy for your effort, though likely wishing you had not been so prescient.

In any event, especially on this discussion, rather than critique a major loss, the emotions are considerably less and because of your ingenious point, it gives us all reason to delve deeper into card combinations and their effect.

Finally and before someone else points it out, I am aware that if declarer is indeed missing AJ10xx in trumps he likely would have started with a small one from dummy, playing for an obligatory finesse of the ace, the result of which adds more credibility to your attempted coup, by establishing that even when the play of the ten or in some cases the jack, is wrong, it will indeed likely still get a “normal” result.

LeroyMay 20th, 2018 at 10:23 am

Vantagens do gel redutor de medidas da Hinode.