Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, May 21st, 2019

I’m sure we all agree that we ought to love one another, and I know there are people in the world that do not love their fellow human beings, and I hate people like that.

Tom Lehrer

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


Today’s deal is part of a weekly series where we look at variations in the play and tackle suit combinations that exhibit a broadly similar theme.

This week, all the critical suits are missing the queen and jack. Here, a simple Stayman sequence saw South reach three no-trump after showing hearts, while dummy had implied spade length. West was happy enough with his heart sequence to lead it, and declarer won the first trick for fear of a club shift, then saw that he could probably make his contract if he could establish either an extra trick from spades or diamonds.

It seemed like the diamonds could wait; so declarer immediately went after spades, running the eight from hand around to East, who continued with hearts. Declarer ducked, won the next heart, then played the ace, king and a third diamond to East. That player could cash his last diamond winner and exit in clubs, but South took his last chance when he led a spade to the 10 and cashed out that suit for nine tricks.

Notice that declarer led the spade eight rather than the nine from hand because he did not want West to cover — as a general rule, leading the lower of touching cards toward dummy is more likely to get a defender to duck.

Also, it is worth noting that West did have a chance to set the game. If he had covered the first spade, declarer would have been held to two tricks in that suit, so long as the defenders played accurately thereafter.

It is tempting to get your spades into play now, since this may be your last chance to bid the suit you want led at a convenient level. But I think I’d settle for raising diamonds, for two reasons. First, raising partner and limiting your hand as soon as possible helps him visualize your assets better. Second, if you bid spades, you may later have to raise diamonds to a higher level than you would like.


♠ A K 10 7
 9 4 3
 7 4 3 2
♣ 5 3
South West North East
  1 ♣ 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


A.V.Ramana RaoJune 4th, 2019 at 11:03 am

Hi Dear Mr. Wolff
South correctly led eight of spades . But looks like south scores the contract if west covers spade eight ( doubledummy of course) . Dummy wins and a club is ducked . If east wins, probably a heart comes back. South wins , cashes high clubs and throws east in with diamond who can cash one more diamond but has to concede spade tricks for the contract. And if west wins the club , if he returns spade, this is ducked to east who can return a red suit but eventually, he is thrown in with diamond for two more spade tricks. This line wins even if east has a four carded club suit ( not five of course) apart from four carded diamond when he wins first club.
Incidentally the throw in is also available to south in the column line had east carelessly discarded a club on third heart but no prudent east would do it and pitch a useless spade on third heart

David WarheitJune 4th, 2019 at 11:07 am

You mention defenders playing “accurately” after W plays SJ at trick 2. Let’s see. Dummy wins SA, & declarer now plays CAK and another. If W doesn’t play the Q, it’s curtains for the defense. If he does, he can now cash C10, but he better exit with a S. If instead he exits with a H, S wins and cashes DAK. He then plays a third D. E wins, cashes one more D, and now has to lead up to dummy’s SK10, making 3NT. So it’s not both opponents who need to play accurately, it’s only W, but I think I would rate his necessary play a little higher, you know, say “brilliant!”.

David WarheitJune 4th, 2019 at 11:16 am

AVRR: great analysis. Our posts crossed. My line is still accurately stated, but the key difference is S ducking the first C rather than the 3d which obviously I didn’t think of. So the brilliancy prize goes not to W but to S, AKA AVRR.

A.V.Ramana RaoJune 4th, 2019 at 12:28 pm

Hi David
Many thanks. Wish I deserve the adjective used. I am tempted to insert an emoji, but thought that perhaps our host may not approve

Iain ClimieJune 4th, 2019 at 1:31 pm


Jim2 regularly uses emojis so I think you’re fine. Good piece of analysis today!



jim2June 4th, 2019 at 2:00 pm


bobbywolffJune 4th, 2019 at 3:55 pm

Hi everyone, especially AVRR,

Much thanks and congratulations for accurately describing the way to score up today’s contract.

Your recent keen analysis has been directly on target for some time now, proving an impressive knowledge of our beloved game.

However I must now ask you, if the occasion calls for it, to please not cut into my money bridge games. “Nothing personal, just business”.

A.V.Ramana RaoJune 5th, 2019 at 9:25 am

Sorry , did not view in that perspective. Got used to analyse the hands as a passion

bobbywolffJune 5th, 2019 at 5:18 pm


Please, do not take what I said as serious since I was only kidding.

I haven’t played money bridge in many years and do not intend to start again, but was only trying to avoid having to compete with you, because of your superior bridge analysis, for other people’s money.

However, the plus (at least for me) is to tend to prove what I have suspected for quite a while, that the greatest difference between people of different nationalities is simply their intended senses of humor.

If that, in fact is true, I need to be much more careful about what I hope to be funny, but not always so, to whom I am talking. Another, less complicated decision, is not to bellow so much.