Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, May 22, 2009

Dealer: South

Vul: E/W

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


South West North East
2 Pass 2 NT Pass
3 Pass 4 Pass
6 All Pass    

Opening Lead:


“Awaiting the sensation of a short, sharp shock,

From a cheap and chippy chopper on a big black block.”

— W.S. Gilbert

In today’s deal how do you plan to make 12 tricks once West leads the heart jack and your bare ace wins the trick?


If diamonds were 3-2, then playing the ace, king and jack of diamonds would ensure that you could reach dummy with the diamond nine. However, with the given layout, a straightforward play in diamonds will see West take two tricks.


The best play is to cash the diamond ace and then make a surprising play — lead the diamond jack next. Whenever West wins his diamond queen, he is endplayed, forced to concede the 12th trick no matter what he does.


If West withholds his diamond queen, then king and another diamond will leave him on play. Again he will have only hearts and clubs left, either of which will give you your 12th trick.


Had East turned up with four diamonds headed by the queen and 10, he would take the diamond queen and return a club. You would now need him to have started life with the club king.


Incidentally, if diamonds were 5-0 and trumps were 2-2, you would lead the diamond jack next if it was West who had the diamond length. Otherwise, you would continue with ace and another club, playing for the hand with the diamond void to have the club king. That way he must next give you an entry to dummy with either a heart or a club.

ANSWER: This seems to be worth a double. Your partner heard you pass initially and still volunteered a call of two spades — he must have some extras. With a trump trick and your club honor well-placed, it looks right to let the opponents know they cannot push you around with impunity.


South Holds:

J 10 9 3
Q 10 8 4
K 7 5 3


South West North East
    1 2
Pass 2 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


DarinTJune 6th, 2009 at 1:07 am

Not to be too nitpicky, but I assume you meant that you would draw trumps before playing on diamonds. Playing the ace and jack of diamonds at tricks 2 and 3 would indeed be a surprising play, and unsuccessful.

Bobby WolffJune 6th, 2009 at 10:44 am

Hi DarinT,

When you are right you are right and you are not being too nitpicky.

No excuses, just poor proofreading, and proving that when other parts of a particular hand, specially a declarer’s play problem are center stage, sometimes the declarer, or at least the writer and the proof reader(s) can get careless.

Somehow, in the real bridge world, an experienced bridge warrior will have a series of checks and balances (C&B) before he embarks on a line of play. Here, after figuring out the best way to play diamonds, his C&B will set off a gong, and the kiddies will be taken off the street (bridge slang for drawing trump) before he tackles the diamonds. Those experts who fail to do such things are soon sent back to the minors for more discipline training.

Thanks for your comment.