Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Saturday, April 18, 2009



Vul: E/W

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


South West North East
1 1 Pass Pass
1NT Pass 3NT All pass

Opening Lead: Q

“What is called a sincere work is one that is endowed with enough strength to give reality to an illusion.”

— Max Jacob

“Play the card you are known to hold” is the theme of today’s deal, which comes from “Deceptive Play,” by David Bird and Tim Bourke.

In three no-trump, South captures West’s heart queen with the king and leads a low club to the 10, which holds, East following with the five. From West’s perspective, what is the club position? There is no way that a sane South would be finessing the 10 on the first round if he had the king. Therefore a low doubleton is South’s likely holding. This means that East began life with club K-5 and has done extremely well to hold up the king. (Remember: your partner is allowed to play well, on occasion.)

Now declarer returns to the spade ace in hand and leads another club. If West follows with the eight, having contributed the two on the first round, South will be justifiably suspicious. As declarer cannot cope with West holding K-J-8-2 of clubs, and the jack would already have appeared had West’s initial holding been club K-J-2, declarer’s best chance to play the suit without loss may be to rise with the ace, dropping East’s king — much to East’s displeasure.

West is obliged to contribute the jack on the second round of clubs — the card he is inferentially known to hold — to foster the illusion that his initial club holding was K-J-2. It is then extremely unlikely that South would rise with dummy’s ace.

ANSWER: You appear not to have a great heart fit since partner did not raise the suit. Presumably, your partner’s hand is minimum and balanced. While hearts could still be right, it looks better to bid one no-trump now. Partner can still bid on if appropriate, but in practice you may find your soft honors stand up better at no-trump than in a suit contract.


South Holds:

Q 5 3
Q J 10 7 4
J 8 2


South West North East
1 Pass
1 1 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 2009. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact