Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, April 14, 2009



Vul: E/W

A Q 9 6 5
A 3
J 6
Q 5 4 3
West East
8 4 K 10 7 3 2
J 10 8 Q 9
A Q 10 5 K 9 4
9 8 6 2 A J 10
K 7 6 5 4 2
8 7 3 2
K 7


South West North East
Pass 1 Pass
1NT Pass 2 Pass
2 All pass    

Opening Lead: 8

“In giving freedom to the slave, we assure freedom to the free — honorable alike in what we give and what we preserve.”

— Abraham Lincoln

In today’s deal East must pass the one-spade opening — he is a queen short of a no-trump overcall. Equally, South lacks the requirements for a two-over-one response, so he should respond one no-trump. At his second chance to bid, he can introduce his hearts. (His overall strength has been limited by his first response.) North can now pass two hearts happily. He knows he is facing a minimum hand with heart length and no fit for the black suits.

Now to the play. On the lead of the spade eight, it looks natural for declarer to take the spade ace and play for diamond ruffs in dummy; but accurate defense of shifting to trumps will foil his plan.

Instead, although South has only a singleton spade, he should duck the opening lead to develop two spade tricks in dummy. With only five heart tricks (provided that the suit divides 3-2) and one club in sight, declarer needs two spade tricks to make his contract.

The safest way to cash the spade tricks is after two rounds of trumps have been drawn. This prevents a spade ruff by the defender who is short in trumps. So, assuming the defenders shift to trumps at trick two, declarer should win the heart king, then the ace, and try to cash out the spades, discarding diamonds from dummy. This way, when West ruffs in, declarer has held his losers to two diamonds and one in each of the other suits.

ANSWER: When the opponents pre-empt against you, it is natural not to want to bid except with full values. However, I would argue the opposite approach. Since they don’t know how much they have, it is safer, not more dangerous, for you to bid here. Bid four spades, confidently, and although you will occasionally run into problems, more often the opponents will get it wrong.


South Holds:

A Q 9 6 5
A 3
J 6
Q 5 4 3


South West North East
2 Pass 4


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 2009. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact