Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Wednesday, April 15, 2009



Vul: E/W

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


South West North East
1 Dbl. 2 Pass
Pass Dbl. Pass 3
3 All pass    

Opening Lead: K

“As a result of a general defect of nature, we are either more confident or more fearful of unusual and unknown things.”

— Julius Caesar

Alarm bells should start ringing when the defense does not follow what appears to be its natural course. They certainly did for Yuko Yamada, in Japan’s Venice Cup encounter against China at the 2001 World Championships.

Yamada had deprived her partner of the chance to double three clubs by her quite reasonable decision to bid to three spades in direct seat, but she caught a disappointing dummy. That does not mean her decision was a bad one. Had she faced four small clubs and the spade king, both partscores might have been odds-on to make.

West made her natural lead of the club king, and on seeing dummy, switched to a low heart, East’s jack drawing the king. Yamada played ace and another diamond to the 10 and queen. West’s heart-queen continuation was taken by the ace. Then the jack of diamonds was covered by the king, ruffed in dummy with the eight, and overruffed.

East returned a heart to her partner’s 10, and West appreciated that if she played another diamond, it was quite possible East would be unable to overruff dummy’s trump 10. So instead she led the 13th heart, but by not following the natural line of a fourth diamond, she gave away the location of the spade king just as effectively.

Yuko Yamada ruffed the heart in hand, and now knew that her only chance was to find the spade king bare with West. She laid down the ace and secured her contract.

ANSWER: You are fractionally too good just to bid three spades, which would be competitive and NOT a game-try. Although it looks logical to bid where you live (hearts), it is better to use the red suits as game-tries. By bidding three diamonds, you suggest length but not strength in that suit, and will get partner to evaluate his diamond holding, which is what you want.


South Holds:

A Q J 6 5
A K 9
J 9 8 5


South West North East
1 2 2 3


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