Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

he Aces on Bridge: Saturday, May 26th, 2018

All things that can be known have number; for it is not possible that without number anything can be either conceived or known.


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



The vulnerability persuades you as South to look for a vulnerable game rather than to play for penalties — a correct strategy since even four spades doubled might have been a cheap save against a game here.

When West leads the spade king, the defenders have immediately set up their long suit. After you have won the spade ace on either the first or second round of the suit, what is your plan to take the further eight tricks you need for your game? You can see seven tricks in clubs and hearts, but if you lead a diamond, the defenders will cash out for down one. So, you must find a fourth trick from the hearts.

You can do this if West has exactly five hearts and East’s singleton is the jack, nine or eight. When that singleton is the jack, a low heart to the queen will establish the 10, and you have straightforwardly achieved your goal. But since it is twice as likely that East’s singleton will be the nine or eight, as compared to the jack, you should play for that eventuality.

After taking the spade ace, lead the heart 10 from your hand. West will surely cover with the jack, and dummy’s queen will win the trick. Once the heart eight appears, you will cross to the club ace and lead the heart two to the seven. Next, you unblock hearts and run your nine tricks.

Incidentally, you cannot take any club winners before advancing the heart 10, as it would leave you short of an entry to your hand.

When the opponents intervene and you can see the possibility that they will raise their suit, it is a good idea to support your partner, assuming you have the option to do so. Here, I prefer to cue-bid two spades to show a club raise rather than bidding diamonds. The latter would be natural and forcing, but would not promise support.


♠ 5 3
 A Q 7
 K 8 6 3
♣ K J 8 4
South West North East
    1 ♣ 1 ♠

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


Iain ClimieJune 9th, 2018 at 9:15 am

Hi Bobby,

If you just cash 4 rounds of clubs, west can throw a H and DQ but then has to let go a spade. Now you can safely knock out DA. Is this simpler?



A.V.Ramana RaoJune 9th, 2018 at 9:30 am

Hi lain
In that case, west can discard a high spade and east can score fifth club for fifth trick for the defense( three spades, diamond A and a club)

A.V.Ramana RaoJune 9th, 2018 at 9:47 am

Hi Dear Mr. Wolff
The play indicated in the column line is very instructive. Only way south could lose is the percentage is defied and east unexpectedly turns up with singleton J of hearts but then south should have no regrets . He tried his best

Iain ClimieJune 9th, 2018 at 11:52 am


Good one! Somebody’s awake and it isn’t me.



jim2June 9th, 2018 at 1:49 pm

TOCM ™ …

Bobby WolffJune 9th, 2018 at 2:10 pm

Hi Iain, AVRR & Jim2,

Iain, if you think you’ve been asleep, I am Rip van Winkle in comparison, 20 years straight (direct from the pen of Washington Irving) and still snoring (when I listed the wrong vulnerability), since NS were supposed to be vulnerable and not EW.

Also, you and I are lucky to have both AVRR as our resident bridge expert, not to mention Dr. Jim2 to diagnose your likely on setting problem, with my more serious one, closer to terminal.

Maybe we could write a song together, “Someone to Watch Over Us”!