Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, August 7, 2009

Dealer: East

Vul: All

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


South West North East
Dbl. Pass 3 Pass
3 Pass 4 Pass
5 NT* Pass 6 All Pass
*Pick a slam

Opening Lead:2

“As the power of endurance weakens with age, the urgency of the pursuit (in research) grows more intense…. And research is always incomplete.”

— Mark Pattison

One of the important early lessons we all learn is how to take a finesse, then in the advanced class we are told that we should avoid taking a finesse if we possibly can! Today’s six-spade contract seems to depend on a miracle in hearts, but declarer can do much better.


West leads the diamond two and East covers dummy’s 10 with his queen.


It will do declarer no good to draw trumps and play on hearts, unless East has a singleton heart honor or the doubleton queen-jack, as the defenders will have a diamond to cash when they get in. Declarer needs to throw East in while both the North and South hands have trumps left, hoping to force the defense to open up hearts for him.


So declarer carefully draws two rounds of trump with the jack and 10, leaving dummy’s queen in place, then cashes the three top clubs and exits with a diamond. East will have to win and either lead a heart or give a ruff and discard. Best is for East to exit with the heart queen, but if declarer plays for split honors in hearts, he will make his game no matter which heart East plays.


The name for declarer’s strategy in this deal is partial elimination — i.e., declarer was unable to draw all the trumps, so eliminated only part of them. It was West who was left with a potential exit card when East was thrown in.

ANSWER: Your partner’s jump-shift sets up an unequivocal game-force, so you do not need to show extra values yet. Best is to support diamonds, the most economical call (this is better trump support than three small cards) and wait to see why partner jumped. There will be time later on to head for slam.


South Holds:

Q 7 2
A 9 7 3 2
J 10
A Q 3


South West North East
    1 Pass
1 Pass 3 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