Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, August 23rd, 2019

Into the darkness they go, the wise and the lovely. Crowned With lilies and with laurel they go; but I am not resigned.

Edna St. Vincent Millay

S North
E-W ♠ A J 9 3
 Q J 9 7 6 3
♣ 7 5
West East
♠ K 6
 Q 10 3 2
 K 2
♣ A J 10 8 6
♠ 8 7 5 4
 K J 6 5 4
♣ Q 9 3
♠ Q 10 2
 A 9 7
 A 8 5 4
♣ K 4 2
South West North East
1 2 ♣ 3 ♣ 3
Pass 4 5 Pass
Pass Dbl. All pass  


North-South would probably have arranged to play this deal in a part-score if the opponents had not competed. But when West got involved by overcalling then competing to four hearts, the auction became highly competitive. North can hardly be blamed for pushing to five diamonds as a sort of two-way shot.

The heart lead went to the king and ace. Declarer, expecting the diamond king and club ace to be on his left after the bidding and final double, sought to eliminate the hand. He ruffed a heart at trick two, making the most of his entries to hand, and returned with a diamond to the ace.

The spade queen came next, covered by West. Declarer came back to the spade 10 to ruff his final heart before cashing the spade jack. Had West ruffed, he would have been endplayed, so he discarded. This only delayed his demise, however. Declarer exited with a trump, and West had to grant declarer his gamegoing trick with the club king.

Had he been able to see all 52 cards, West might have done better to play small on the spade queen, but declarer, perhaps imagining West with a doubleton spade after that auction, would have stuck with his original plan by ruffing a heart and cashing the spade ace.

Note that if West had begun with three spades to the king, he could beat the game legitimately by ducking the first spade and covering the second. Declarer would then be unable to eliminate the majors.

I would have no objection to doubling on the first rounds despite my sterile shape and the fact that I am facing a passed partner. Now it is imperative that we reopen the bidding by doubling. Don’t let the opponents buy the hand cheaply when they have announced a fit.


♠ Q 10 2
 A 9 7
 A 8 5 4
♣ K 4 2
South West North East
    Pass 1
Pass 2 Pass 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 RaoSeptember 6th, 2019 at 12:36 pm

Hi Dear Mr. Wolff
Perhaps the Crux of the situation for South is inferring the number of spades west has ( along with his presumed king ) . If west has doubleton K of spades , South can engineer to eliminate hearts and if west has three carded spade , South starts with Q / ten . West will not cover but South will continue with second high card and if west covers, dummy wins and cashes spades ( thanks to the presence of spades nine in dummy )with South pitching heart and west is done with. But perhaps this is where Bridge luck plays a vital role. Between two equally capable players , one south may not infer the number of spades west has ( which indeed is difficult ) and go down while the lucky player prevails. You may please reflect

bobbywolffSeptember 6th, 2019 at 1:11 pm


Reflecting on your above post will only resort in your wise and to the point discussion of your completely accurate summary.

You left nothing out except perhaps the emphasis of West’s dilemma in covering or not declarer’s queen of spades.

Of course in retrospect, West, by covering, did the wrong thing, but I, for one, would not blame him for so doing. Rather the learning and educational experience of the player (declarer) who is looking at all 26 of his assets (instead of only 13, along with 13 of his opponents to the defenders) which in fact often allows the declarer a very valuable advantage to plan the whole play (necessity to have the right entries to ruff out his two losing hearts which in turn served to correct the timing of his fairly simple elimination and end play for the contract trick).

Of course the hidden 10 of spades in declarer’s hand was key, as long as the declarer was able to advantage himself, by strongly getting help from a possibly very competent defender who was not privy to seeing through the back of declarer’s cards. True, he could have made a brilliant non-cover of his king of spades, but to call it an error should be, at least IMO, made of sterner stuff.

Thanks, as always, for your keen analysis which in turn covered the bases and only allowed me to speak of tangible advantages which normally accrue to declarer play, rather than the less specific evidence often only available to the defense.