Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Saturday, November 16th, 2019

We never understand how little we need in this world until we know the loss of it.

J.M. Barrie

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


This deal from the German Bridge Trophy features some fine card-reading. When West led the spade queen against four hearts, declarer ducked. If a red suit did not behave, he wanted to prevent a club shift through his king.

South won the next spade and drew trumps, West shedding a spade, before testing the diamonds with the ace and queen. When East showed out, it looked as though the contract would hinge on the location of the club ace.

However, declarer wondered why West had not switched to a club at trick two, the natural thing to do with three small in the dummy. He must surely have the club ace. Declarer called for another trump, throwing a diamond from hand. West could not part with a diamond, while a club discard would have enabled declarer to duck two clubs and drop the ace. So West chose to release another spade, giving South a chance to read the ending.

Had West begun with a 5=2=4=2 shape, in which case declarer needed to duck a club, or did he have 4=2=4=3 distribution? West’s failure to act over one no-trump suggested that his hand was balanced, so declarer endplayed West in diamonds to concede a trick to the club king.

Curiously, if East had overtaken the spade queen with the king at trick one, West would not have come under pressure. East could then have gained the lead with the spade 10 to play the club jack through. Maybe East should have worked this out, since he knew he wanted to find a way to obtain the lead.

Open one heart. This is the perfect kind of hand for a light third-seat opening. You have a good primary suit and two and a half quick tricks, so partner will not be disappointed if he competes in hearts (or his own suit) or if he doubles the final contract.


♠ 4 3
 A 10 7 6 4
 A Q 5
♣ 7 6 5
South West North East
    Pass Pass

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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 RaoNovember 30th, 2019 at 11:24 am

Hi Dear Mr Wolff
Perhaps declarer could have opted for a more elegant line. After winning second spade and three rounds of trumps ending in dummy , he could have led diamond five and finessed nine in hand. West must duck this to give defense any chance but now South plays diamond to dummy,s A to confirm what is happening ( if diamonds break there is no problem bit as West turns up with diamond J , dummy leads a trump and West’s discomfiture is complete . If he throws spade, he can be endplayed in diamonds and if he throws a club , a club can be ducked as South places club A with West , and he need not bother about West’s shape in this line

jim2November 30th, 2019 at 1:11 pm


What if East plays the JD?

Bobby WolffNovember 30th, 2019 at 2:39 pm

Hi AVRR & Jim2,

Yes, sometimes since we alone, during the bridge post-mortem, can see the original location of all the cards which tends to much more often find different, but very unlikely (and non-percentage) ways to succeed.

However, in the real bridge world, assuming the opponents are unkind enough to hold their hands away from opponent’s eyesight, we (usually declarer) are forced to rely on logic alone to determine the best line of play.

However, with East also holding the key 10 of spades, it seems right for him to overtake
west’s Queen of spades, (an overwhelming favorite to also hold the jack with his queen lead, denying declarer the luxury of keeping East out of the lead sooner, rather than later.

Perhaps the jack of clubs should have quietly suggested to East, that sometimes sooner, rather than later he needs to lead that key knave through declarer, if possible,before declarer’s would be diamond suit become established.

Sometimes, vivid imagination is required by the defense, and here East should not consider a spade king overtake without the mandatory 10, otherwise the whole defensive master defensive plan might sink like the Titanic. If thought necessary by East, even while holding only the nine an overtake at trick one may work, but only if West held the QJ10x(x) for his lead.

Live and learn, learn and live, which seems the norm, rather than the unusual if all four players at the table, get very much into every hand, which is dealt. Truly , good bridge is worth it, although fate doesn’t always allow every good play to be rewarded, just like it withholds (thank goodness), all bad ones to be punished.

But, the play is the logic and thus the thing, rather than just the cold blooded result.

Thanks to all of our posters for being on the alert for all interesting and worthwhile twists and turns which so very aptly, often apply to our great game, especially the ones which are not otherwise featured in our writing.