Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Dealer: South

Vul: All

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


South West North East
1 NT Pass 2 Pass
2 Pass 2 NT All Pass

Opening Lead:3

“On reflecting that he had done nothing to help anybody all day, Emperor Titus uttered these memorable and praiseworthy words: ‘Friends, I have lost a day.'”

— Gaius Suetonius

Today’s hand is from Julian Pottage’s monthly “Test Your Defence” spot in the UK’s Bridge Magazine, the world’s oldest extant bridge publication (


West leads the spade three against two no-trump, and East’s 10 loses to the king. South leads a diamond to dummy’s ace, then finesses the jack, losing to West’s queen. (East signaled to show an even number, almost certainly two.) What next?


South must have 15 or 16 points, leaving East with two or three points in his hand. Where to go for honey? To play East for very strong hearts would be too optimistic. The best chance is to aim for three spade tricks, which would be enough to set the contract.


Partner’s contribution of the spade 10 at trick one is consistent with holdings that include the queen, so it would seem best to play East for that card — hopefully in an initial three-card holding. However, if the seven is returned and East started with Q-10-8, he might not know whether to play high or low. Even more importantly, if East has Q-10-5, West must lead the nine to smother South’s eight.


There is one more trap to avoid, should your spade nine hold. If you simply play a third spade, East’s queen will take that trick, but what should he return next? If he shifts to a heart, declarer would be home. So, help partner by cashing the club king before playing another spade.

ANSWER: This sequence shows good clubs (six of them at least) and four spades, with the values to drive to game. You have enough to cue-bid four diamonds, though from here on you should let partner take control. With any luck he can use Blackwood and decide where he wants to play.


South Holds:

J 6 4 2
Q 9 3
A 7 6
Q 10 5


South West North East
    1 Pass
1 Pass 4 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