Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, May 14, 2009

Dealer: South

Vul: E/W

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


South West North East
1 NT Pass 2* Pass
2 Pass 3 NT All Pass
*Transfer to spades

Opening Lead:


“A thing moderately good is not so good as it ought to be.”

— Thomas Paine

In today’s deal from last year’s Cavendish Pairs you can see how hard it is for the defenders to lead one suit and shift to another when it looks as if the opening lead has struck gold. Although five diamonds is surely the best game here, it was very tempting to get to the no-trump game via an inelegant sequence like the one shown here. A fourth-highest club lead went to East’s queen. Declarer, Louk Verhees, ducked this and the club 10, won his ace on the third round, tested diamonds, then finessed in hearts. East won his heart king and underled his spade ace, but Verhees put up the king and claimed nine tricks when it held.


To set the hand, East has to shift to a spade at trick three. (West could not realistically overtake the club to play spades from his side, in case his partner has the spade king instead of the ace.) But if West had concealed the club three at trick two, would his partner have shifted to spades?


At another table North declared six diamonds after an auction that was too optimistic for a family paper. East did well to lead the club 10. Declarer won and ruffed a club, led a spade to the king, and played a spade to the jack and ace. (Yes, West should have hopped up with the spade queen to lead a heart!) Declarer ruffed the spade continuation, ruffed a club, drew trumps, and claimed 12 tricks. Easy game, bridge.

ANSWER: The two quiet actions you might consider are one no-trump and two clubs. The former suggests a balanced 12-14, so you are both a little strong, and rather too shapely. A call of two clubs suggests your pattern but a minimum hand. Best is to jump to three clubs, a nonforcing invitation. Logically, when partner invited you to name a suit, as here, a jump shows extras but not a game-force.


South Holds:

K 4
J 5
A K 10 9 8
A 8 9 5


South West North East

1 Dbl. 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