Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Wednesday, April 24th, 2019

Some problems are so complex that you have to be highly intelligent and well informed just to be undecided about them.

Laurence Peter

East North
None ♠ K Q 4 2
 A 9 8
 Q 9 6 2
♣ A K
West East
♠ 10 9 7 3
 K 10 6 5 2
 7 5
♣ 8 3
♠ 8
 J 7
 J 8 3
♣ Q J 10 6 5 4
♠  A J 6 5
  Q 4 3
  A K 10 4
♣  9 7
South West North East
      3 ♣
Dbl. Pass 4 ♣ Pass
4 ♠ Pass 5 ♣ Pass
5 Pass 5 Pass
6 Pass 6 ♠ All Pass


In today’s deal, South might have responded four diamonds to North’s cue-bid, since North might just have been trying to find the best fit when holding both red suits. No harm was done, though it resulted in South rather than North being declarer in six spades.

When the defenders led clubs, the duplication of values meant South wasn’t going to find it easy to take a ruff in either hand. Accordingly, the 4-1 trump break did not materially diminish declarer’s chances. He won the club lead and drew trumps in four rounds, East pitching three clubs.

Now whom was declarer going to play for four diamonds? After cashing the diamond ace, declarer decided that East was slightly more likely to have four diamonds than four hearts. However, it was far more convenient for his plans to be in dummy after running the diamonds. So he cashed the diamond king and ran diamonds, coming down to a four-card ending with three hearts and one club in each hand, West holding the same, while East had two cards left in each suit.

The next big decision was whom to play for the heart king. Since West had the length, declarer decided to cash dummy’s remaining club honor and lead the heart eight, planning to let it run. When East played low, so did declarer, and West took his 10 but was endplayed to lead a heart around to South’s queen.

Had East followed with the jack, declarer would have played his queen and finessed against the 10 on the next round.

Creeping or Crawling Stayman allows you to bid two clubs here and correct a response of two diamond to two hearts to offer a choice of the majors. Opener tends to pass unless he has three spades and two hearts, so this way you can remove yourself from one no-trump and find a reasonable partscore whatever your partner has.


♠ 10 9 7 3
 K 10 6 5 2
 7 5
♣ 8 3
South West North East
    1 NT 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


bobbywolffMay 8th, 2019 at 9:43 am

OK, ‘fess up” someone, who stole East’s 2 of clubs?.

Well, for declarer’s sake, that theft worked out better than if East had then stolen, in return for North’s nine of hearts, trading his seven for what he thought was a higher card, the nine, as well as getting back his baby club. and if the declarer play was similar but, of course, instead of running the nine of hearts (in dummy to West to which he no longer held) declarer then had tried the ace and one heart (in the end game and East had failed to jettison the jack on the ace, to which declarer would have let him hold that knave (not wasting her majesty the queen), only for East to mightily rue that next trick he wound up having to concede that critical slam making sluff and ruff.

Of course, if East had been dealt the king of hearts instead of his vacated deuce of clubs, the laughs would then belong to the defense.

As Ralph Edwards use to continually say on his popular radio show many, many years ago, “Truth or Consequences”, “Aren’t we devils”?

Iain ClimieMay 8th, 2019 at 1:05 pm

Hi Bobby,

If East had the C2 stuck behind the CQ (say) declarer might think West had C832 and East had opened with 1-3-3-6, such is the feckless nature of modern pre-empts, including my own. We might then feel obliged to play East for the HK especially if East echoed in clubs to “show 6”.

Alternatively, West playing MUD (which you don’t like) could have tried the effects of leading C3 then 8 on the basis that South is expecting a club lead and it is unlikely to cost. Typographical gremlins can raise good points, even if they didn’t mean to!

If spades are 3-2 with East holding HKx, play could be similar (but with only 3 rounds of trumps drawn) and an East with strong nerves could beat the slam by ducking the HK, as the slam is clearly cold if South has HQ and the HK is played. Easier said than done.



Mircea1May 8th, 2019 at 2:29 pm

So, in light of the above comments, is it not better for East not to discard the baby club? If only West could be thought of leading the 8 from 10 8 2 (and declarer paying attention)

bobbywolffMay 8th, 2019 at 3:47 pm

Hi Iain & Mircea1,

Yes, if West can convince declarer he started with three clubs, and the exact hearts shown were present NS, declarer, well might play for the king to be about even money to be in either hand, and then may lead a heart from declarer to the eight in dummy essentially playing East for the heart king with the added chance that the jack ten were with West, and then decided not to split his honors, or if he did, he could then decide what to do depending on who he thought at that time, also had started with the king (it is possible that West held KJ10).

No doubt MUD has some advantage and after all these years, I’ve finally found it so. Only kidding, since it does have the deceptive advantage of often camouflaging possessing a 3rd one by merely following low to the second trick, therefore causing even a very alert declarer to possibly go wrong in the end game (and sometimes even earlier).

Yes, the psychological guessing game between the declarer and the defense often determines the result and my experience seems to suggest that factor to occur much more often than most might expect.

Thanks to both of you for your responses and drink a toast to always guessing it right.