Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Dealer: South

Vul: N/S

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


South West North East
2 3 Pass 4
4 Pass Pass 5
Dbl. Pass 5 All Pass

Opening Lead:A

“He seems so near and yet so far.”

— Alfred Lord Tennyson

How should you plan the play in five spades? If trumps are no worse than 3-1, your contract will be easy. You just draw trump, ending on the table, and run the diamond 10. You will lose at most one club and one diamond.


The situation becomes trickier if trumps split 4-0. After you ruff the heart ace and play a trump to the queen, you may lose control if West has a guarded diamond queen since you have to surrender early tricks in both clubs and diamonds. The defenders will force you each time they gain the lead by returning a heart. You will then end up with fewer trumps than East and finish a trick short. Is there anything better?


East appears to have some values for bidding on to the five-level, so play him for the club ace. Cross to the spade queen at trick two to find the bad news, and at trick three play a low club toward your hand. If East plays low, your king wins the trick. You can now draw trumps and give up a diamond trick. You make six trumps, four diamonds and a club.


What happens if East plays the club ace and forces you with another heart? After you ruff, cash the club king and cross to dummy with the trump jack to play dummy’s two club winners, throwing low diamonds from hand. Then, after drawing trumps, you cash the ace and king of diamonds for the 10th and 11th tricks.

ANSWER: This is a takeout double, and you have no reason to assume that partner does not have four clubs and a decent hand. With the choice of playing in either minor, it looks right to play in clubs so that you can take ruffs in North and still be able to draw trumps easily. So bid two clubs, perhaps with the idea of competing further if the opponents bid to two of a major.


South Holds:

Q J 5
7 6 4
10 8 2
Q J 8 3


South West North East
    1 1
Pass 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