Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Dealer: South

Vul: None

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


South West North East

Pass 1 NT Pass

All Pass    

Opening Lead:Q

“He rushed into the field, and, foremost fighting, fell.”

— Lord Byron

The defenders can only do one thing at a time. Failing to appreciate this truism cost a few declarers their four-spade contract in today’s deal, from a Swiss Teams tournament.

The lead of the diamond queen was the choice of most Wests. Those declarers who won with the ace, then returned the suit, hoping to take a third-round ruff in dummy, were doomed to failure when, at trick three, East took his diamond king and returned the spade nine. This left South with two losing diamonds in addition to a club and a heart loser, so long as West guessed well enough to take the heart ace on the first round of the suit. It was by no means an automatic play, but was logical enough if declarer could be counted out for seven spade tricks.

By contrast, consider the effect of ducking the opening diamond lead. West would like to continue the suit to remove the entry to the hearts, while at the same time leading a trump to kill dummy’s ruffing value. But both actions cannot be done at the same time.

If the diamond continuation is chosen, declarer wins in dummy, enters hand with the club ace, and ruffs the last diamond. And if the trump is led, declarer wins, draws the rest of the trumps, then sets up a heart trick for a diamond discard. Meanwhile, the diamond ace remains in dummy as an entry.

ANSWER: You cannot pass — the change of suit is forcing for one round, though not to game. It looks simple to rebid your suit, but far more descriptive is to bid three clubs, planning to introduce no-trump at your next turn. You have a maximum, enough to drive to game.


South Holds:

K Q 7 6 5 2
A 4
9 8 5 4


South West North East
2 Pass 2



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