Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, July 23, 2009

Dealer: South

Vul: All

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


South West North East
1 NT Pass 2 Pass
2 Pass Pass Dbl.
Pass 3 3 All Pass

Opening Lead:Q

“Civilizations break down and go to pieces if and when a challenge confronts them which they fail to meet.”

— Arnold Toynbee

From a pair game in the finals of a recent U.S. Nationals came a deal misplayed by almost every declarer who encountered it. Can you do better? You may want to consider it as a single-dummy problem by covering up the East and West cards.


Having been pushed to three spades, how should you play this contract on the lead of the club queen?


Assume from East’s takeout double that the most likely lie of the cards includes a 4-1 trump break onside. If so, you have eight easy tricks but no comfortable route to reduce your trumps, a necessary move to achieve the trump coup that will allow you to score an extra trump trick in dummy.


The right line (which combines deception and technique) is to duck the first club smoothly. There is no way the defenders will be able to work out what is going on in this suit. Win the expected club continuation and play a third club to pitch a diamond from dummy. Now lead a spade to finesse dummy’s 10, then play a diamond to the ace and ruff a diamond. After a spade to the ace (as East discards), dummy is down to three trumps. You can now ruff a diamond and exit with a heart. The defenders can cash three rounds of that suit, but must then lead a plain card, allowing the spade K-J to take the last two tricks.

ANSWER: Did you look at your eight-count and heave a sigh of relief that the auction is over without the opponents getting to game? That is the wrong approach. The opponents have announced a fit and stopped low. It is up to you to double two diamonds for takeout, forcing them to fight harder if they want to buy the contract.


South Holds:

Q 9 5 2
K 8 4
8 5
Q J 10 2


South West North East
  1 Pass 1
Pass 1 NT Pass 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