Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Wednesday, March 20th, 2019

Misled by fancy’s meteor ray.

Robert Burns

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

*Invitational values, either in
  clubs or balanced


From the Silodor Open Pairs in Philadelphia last year, this challenge for both declarer and the defense saw Simon Cope and Peter Crouch, the eventual winners of the event, emerge on top.

In three no-trump after the spade nine lead, Crouch discouraged, perhaps suggesting he had the heart king. Declarer won the queen and decided that the right approach was to start with the club finesse. So he played the club king and a club to the jack, which held. Relieved, declarer could take the diamond finesse, thinking that if it lost to the diamond queen, he could reassess what to do.

To his pleasure, the diamond jack won as well. Declarer could now lead a heart to the ace, and rather than cashing the club ace (which would have squeezed his hand), he played a second diamond. He planned to score two spades, one heart, four diamonds and two clubs.

However, he was shocked when East showed out, and his plans collapsed; ducking the first diamond was very nice defense by Cope (West).

As usual, with the sight of all four hands, South can do much better; indeed, three no-trump is cold. Admittedly, though, you need to make the inspired move of laying down the diamond king at trick two — not obvious by any means! If the defenders win the first or second diamond, you set up diamonds using the club reentry to your hand. If they duck twice, you play on clubs and take four tricks there.

There may appear to be three conceivable actions here (bidding either red suit or no-trump), but in practice, one of these actions is verboten. To bid two hearts — a higher suit than your opening bid, at the two-level — shows real extras; this is defined as a reverse. Since a two-diamond rebid typically shows six trumps, the rebid of one no-trump is comfortably the best option, to show a balanced 12-14 points.


♠ A Q
 10 9 7 4
 K J 10 9 8
♣ K 5
South West North East
1 Pass 1 ♠ 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 2019. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact