Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Dealer: South

Vul: All

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


South West North East
1 Pass 1 Pass
1 NT Pass 2♣* Pass
2 Pass 3 NT All Pass
*Forcing Relay

Opening Lead:4

“Corruption wins not more than honesty.”

— William Shakespeare

In today’s deal from the 2008 Open Trials, three no-trump was made in both rooms. Both Easts led a fourth-best spade, and both declarers ducked. As you can see, winning the spade ace and leading the heart jack makes life easiest. However, is it the right play? That line really needs the heart queen well placed and in a holding of no more than three cards. Does that require too many cards to be well placed?


If West holds the heart ace and East the queen together with three spades, the contract is destined to fail on most lines of play. But consider the following:. Win the second spade in dummy and lead a heart toward the closed hand. Sure, we’re all geniuses and would rise with the queen from the East hand (if we held it). In real life East will almost always duck and the jack will lose to West’s ace. If West ducks his (hypothetical) ace, we lead back to the king, since West would never duck the queen. Of course on the actual lie of the cards, West wins the heart queen and continues spades. But the hand is still makable, if declarer reads the position correctly. He wins and continues hearts to East’s ace. Now he rises with the ace on East’s probable diamond return. He leads a club to dummy and runs the hearts. West will be forced to discard spades — pitching diamonds or clubs is immediately fatal. Now, in the three-card ending, declarer can work out to exit with a diamond and West is endplayed to lead away from his club queen.

ANSWER: With everyone bidding, you might be inclined to play it safe and assume this was only a partscore battle. But you do have an opening bid facing a takeout double. I do not think you can do less than jump to two no-trump; you may not have hearts well stopped, but your partner has guaranteed some length there already. Your sequence shows 11-12 points.


South Holds:

A 8 5
J 9
A Q 6 2
J 9 6 4


South West North East
  1 Dbl. 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