Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Dealer: South

Vul: N/S

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


South West North East
1 Pass 3♣* Pass
4 All Pass    
*Four spades and 6-9 points

Opening Lead:3

“A hard beginning maketh a good ending.”

— John Heywood

Bridge is a complex game, and the pressure on top-level players is enormous. Consequently, the play in world championship finals is often not of the best. Today’s deal is an example. One team stopped in a spade partscore and collected 10 tricks. The other side bid to game, so there was more at stake.


A heart was led to the queen, king and ace. Declarer cashed the spade ace and led a club to the king and ace. East returned a heart, which declarer won in the dummy. He finessed in spades, drew the last trump, and cashed the club queen. In the light of West’s spade shortage, declarer guessed to play a club to dummy’s nine, thus landing his vulnerable game.


An excellent result, but East made a fairly elementary mistake when he covered the heart queen at trick one. His partner would not be underleading an ace here, so declarer had to hold the ace. In such a situation it is nearly always wrong to cover the first honor — and not just because declarer sometimes has the singleton ace.


Suppose East plays low at trick one and dummy’s queen wins. Declarer plays a spade to his king and leads a club as before. East takes the trick and plays a diamond, allowing West to win and play a second heart. Now East covers dummy’s jack; declarer cannot both play clubs correctly and pick up East’s trumps, so must go one down.

ANSWER: My suggested methods when the opponents intervene over your side’s no-trump opening include doublinh for takeout. Doing so may let the odd penalty double get away, but more often than not, you will find yourself far better placed to compete. And if opener reopens when he is short in their suit, you will end up penalizing the opponents most of the time that it can be done.


South Holds:

10 9 8 7
Q J 2
8 2
K J 9 6


South West North East
    1 NT 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

1 Comment

David WarheitOctober 2nd, 2009 at 4:20 pm

South made a fairly elementary mistake as well. He should have played low from dummy on the opening lead and won the ace. Now E is helpless to defeat the contract.