Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Wednesday, June 6th, 2018

One man is as good as another until he has written a book.

Benjamin Jowett

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


This deal (with a slight alteration of the heart honors) came up in the Common Game in December last year. Pretty much everyone would have bid the North-South cards to three no-trump; North has just enough to use Stayman and invite game, since if partner has a heart fit or a maximum, there should be decent play for game.

The opening lead gives you grounds for optimism as declarer. The club 10 comes around to your queen, and now it seems natural to go after diamonds. Beware, though! If you play the ace and another diamond, the defenders can clear the clubs and remove your last sure entry to hand. If the defenders duck the first spade and win the next, then cash their club winner, West can exit in hearts and collect the fifth trick for their side.

A much better line is to lead the diamond eight to the queen at trick two. At the table where I was involved, East won her diamond king and continued clubs, but declarer could simply drive out the spade ace and come to nine tricks painlessly enough.

Had East ducked the diamond king, South would next go after spades by running the jack, then leading a spade to the king. The defenders can still make life awkward by winning the second spade and returning a club, but the fall of the spade 10 and the fact that hearts are 3-3 allows you to come home against any defense. You win the third club, cash the remaining top spade to pitch a heart, and set up diamonds, leaving the defenders with two clubs, one spade and one diamond trick.

Your partner’s raise to two spades suggests some extras in the form of four trumps, but not necessarily real extras in high cards. Though you have a fine hand in context, you do not really have enough to drive to game; but surely the three-level should be safe. I would bid three clubs now and be prepared to drive to game if given the slightest encouragement.


♠ A 6 5 3
 J 5 2
 10 5
♣ K 10 9 5
South West North East
  1 Dbl. Pass
1 ♠ 2 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


Michael BeyroutiJune 20th, 2018 at 12:38 pm

Dear Mr Wolff,
what was the rationale behind playing the diamond eight rather than the six?

bobbywolffJune 20th, 2018 at 3:29 pm

Hi Michael,

Good catch and since newspapers are obviously not well bridge schooled enough to proof read the effective bridge described we sometimes (too often) need help.

However if West has 109xx in diamonds and mistakenly covers we might even win this novice game. Also, once upon a midnight clear, an undue and weird clever false card may give a defender a better chance at a less than perfect expert defense. Other than that I’ve got no worthwhile answer. and, of course West may have a singleton 9 or 10 of diamonds, when on a very good day the play could lead to an eventual finesse of the eight coming back. Unlikely, but I guess possible.

Finally thank you, since your probing question may get many readers to consider such things and then, in this case, possibly learn more about card combination false cards and their various value or not.

Besides, the lack of casual response was getting deafening.

Michael BeyroutiJune 20th, 2018 at 5:01 pm

Yes, I can now see the value of unblocking should West cover from 109xx and the East king is singleton.

PeterJune 21st, 2018 at 2:38 am

please check you e-mail, I did not want to post the e-mail here, sorry

and thanks

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