Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, May 24th, 2019

Clowns to the left of me,
Jokers to the right.
Here I am,
Stuck in the middle with you.

Gerry Rafferty

S North
None ♠ K 8 4
 A Q J 3
 J 6 3 2
♣ J 10
West East
♠ J 5
 6 4
 A Q 9
♣ A Q 9 6 4 2
♠ Q 10 7 3
 9 8 7 5
 10 8 7 4
♣ 3
♠ A 9 6 2
 K 10 2
 K 5
♣ K 8 7 5
South West North East
1 ♣ * 2 ♣ Dbl. Pass
2 ♠ Pass 3 ♣ Pass
3 NT All pass    

*Two or more clubs


The maneuver shown in today’s deal, known as an intrafinesse, does not come up all that often. It is an episode in this week’s theme of how to develop an extra trick in a suit missing the queen and jack.

Here, South declared three no-trump after opening a short club. West overcalled a natural two clubs over this, and when North produced a negative double, South introduced his four-card major, then owned up to a club stopper when North asked him for one.

After West kicked off with a low club, declarer won with dummy’s 10. He could see his way to something like two clubs, two spades and four heart tricks, but where was the ninth going to come from?

If he tried to set up a diamond, the defenders would surely win the race to establish clubs first. So the extra trick had to come from spades. In order to achieve his target, South crossed to his heart 10 and led a spade to the eight and 10. East shifted to diamonds, and West could see that declarer would likely establish his ninth winner in that suit if left to his own devices. So he played the ace of clubs, then the queen, as East pitched hearts. That let South score his king, but it set up West’s clubs in the process.

However, now declarer cashed the hearts, then took the spade king to drop West’s jack and led dummy’s last spade to his nine. The finesse wasn’t guaranteed to succeed, but declarer was confident that West would have split his honors at trick three if he had begun with Q-J-x of spades.

There are three equally good answers here, and it may be that your personal style will dictate what you do. Raising hearts may lose the spade fit, but bidding spades may lose the heart fit (or force you to overbid to find it). Rebidding one no-trump might lose either fit, but it does define the hand type nicely. I think I’d raise hearts, as long as my partnership style allowed me to.


♠ A 9 6 2
 K 10 2
 K 5
♣ K 8 7 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


jim2June 7th, 2019 at 1:39 pm

I just know that if I arrived at 3N that way, West would start AC, QC.

bobbywolffJune 7th, 2019 at 3:03 pm

Hi Jim2,

No doubt your special West, because of TOCM TM, knew that he had to develop that 2nd club trick faster than normal (fie on leading 2nd, 3rd, 4th, or lowest) lead 1st best, before you used that antiquated but powerful bridge skill to your advantage, (intra-finesse? really, West was tuned in to its antidote).

Fight fire with fire, in life when someone or something is better, invent a better mousetrap, so that one can overcome other’s superiority, which would then allow keen scientists to penetrate inside TOCM and may learn valuable secrets which, in time, will help medical science learn to control that dreaded virus.

If only this troubled world would combine its intelligence to work together, rather than to tear itself apart with diverse very sad evil effort to favor themselves (at least think they would) rather than pitch in to vitally help the common good and make a much better life for us all.

Perhaps TOCM TM developed in order to show the way to a lasting peace, making our beautiful and unmatched game, its starting gate.

If only it was that simple!

jim2June 7th, 2019 at 5:30 pm

Nah, nothing that intelligent! Remember, I play mostly just the tourneys in Lower Slobbovia. (Though I do have hopes for one next year in Upper Slobbovia)

At my table, West would be trying to give East a ruff.

Iain ClimieJune 7th, 2019 at 7:17 pm

Hi Bobby,

One other suit combination which I think you’ve used before – play Ax opposite K1087xx for 5 tricks / 1 loser. 3-2 I no problem (assume no entry concerns) but the utterly counter-intuitive solution is to lead the 10 running it if a small onne appears but playing Ace and another inserting the 8 if next hand follows small. This picks up singleton 9 under the K108 but also any singleton 9, J or Q on the right. Then, similar to yesterday, a careless player with J9xx may be sufficiently bemused to cover!



bobbywolffJune 7th, 2019 at 8:23 pm

Hi Jim2,

Your detective work is as good an excuse as any as to why West led the ace queen of clubs. If you can remember what East discarded and whether West grimaced or not, only indicating what the opening leader thought was the trump suit hoping, of course, his partner had thought was the same one.

During my early days of playing bridge a couple of hundred years ago my then walk-in bridge partner had a record of never in her life ever having been end played, even by the club pro.

This amazing fact (since she had been playing for years) was a very simple one of from trick one, and on defense, or at least thinking she was, played all of her high cards ASAP never allowing (at least when I was her partner) to ever have any high cards left even after tricks six or seven,and never by tricks eight or nine, making herself 100% immune to being thrown in.

When I bit the bullet and decided to discuss this with her, she replied immediately, before hearing me, not to worry since she wanted to make sure that they were all used before they became useless.

After hearing her reason, I decided to just grin and bear it, since to do otherwise would only make two people upset, instead of only just one.

Bobby WolffJune 7th, 2019 at 8:49 pm

Hi Iain,

No doubt, when leading the 10 from dummy which held the K1087xx and quickly before your RHO has had a chance to play, you should turn to your patient kibitzer sitting to your left, and remind her of the correct bridge axiom of always covering an honor with an honor.

When your RHO then covers while holding J9xx
no bridge appeals committee should convict you, since you were only trying to educate your kibitzer.

I do not charge a whole lot for my help, since I have no place to spend my money, since my residence is the county bridge jail.