Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Saturday, May 9, 2009

Dealer: West

Vul: None

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


South West North East
Pass 1 NT* Pass
3** Pass 4 All Pass
*10-12 points
**5-5 majors, forcing


Opening Lead:4

“If I don’t practice one day, I know it; two days, the critics know it; three days, the public knows it.”

— Jascha Heifetz

A defender who gives declarer a ruff-sluff is usually a beginner. The same might be said about a declarer who takes a practice finesse (a finesse that appears to be unnecessary). But sometimes appearances are deceptive.


Graham Kirby found an ingenious variation on a practice finesse in today’s deal from the 1987 European Championships — an event in which Britain qualified for the Bermuda Bowl, but lost to the United States in the finals.


Kirby (South) reached four spades after North had opened a kamikaze 10-12 no-trump. He received a diamond lead to East’s ace and a diamond continuation. After West shifted to a club, you or I might draw trumps and then rely on a heart honor being onside — a 75 percent shot, but one that would not pay off today.


By contrast Kirby inferred from the lead away from the diamond king that West had the club king or he would have led the club — so he followed a different route. He finessed in clubs and cashed the diamond jack, pitching a heart, played the club ace, and ruffed a club. He then drew three rounds of trumps ending in dummy and passed the heart 10 around to West, who was now securely endplayed.


Note that if Kirby had not taken the club finesse, he would have been an entry and a trump short of being able to establish the endplay.


ANSWER: Whenever you hold a limit raise or better in support of partner, it is right to start by cue-bidding the opponent’s suit. So bid two clubs to show the support for hearts and at least an invitational hand. Once you have done this, you can respect partner’s decision on how high to compete.


South Holds:

A 9 7 2
10 8 3
J 6 5
A Q 6


South West North East
1 1 1


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