Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, August 14, 2009

Dealer: South

Vul: None

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


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

Opening Lead:7

“He behaved like an ostrich and put his head in the sand, thereby exposing his thinking parts.”

— George Carman

Look only at the East cards and those of dummy if you want to challenge yourself with this defensive problem. You see partner lead the diamond seven against three no-trump. It looks natural to win the ace and return the diamond nine, giving partner the count in this suit. Is there any reason to vary the script?


Assuming your partner has led fourth highest of his longest and strongest, he has surely led from a five-card suit headed by two top honors. The rule of 11 gives declarer only one card bigger than the seven, and you know partner would have led the king from a sequence of three honors.


If declarer has the queen or the jack of diamonds, you can cash the first five diamond tricks and sit back to wait for your club ace. But what if partner has led from Q-J-8-7-4? If you play your ace and return the suit, declarer will duck and win the third round. Now when you win your club ace, you will not be able to put West in to cash his diamonds.


You can tell from your hand (the club ace and the long spades) that declarer cannot possibly have nine tricks, even if you let him have one diamond, so the safest defense is to play the diamond nine at trick one.


At matchpoints you might play for two down. If you are playing teams or rubber, putting in the diamond nine to force out the king looks best.

ANSWER: You are far too good to sell out now. The choice is between a simple preference to three clubs and a second double. The former will probably work best, unless partner is going to pass your takeout double for penalty, which seems unlikely given your doubleton trump holding.


South Holds:

8 2
A K J 4
K 3 2
9 7 6 5


South West North East
    1 1
Dbl. 2 Pass 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

1 Comment

JUDY KAY-WOLFFAugust 28th, 2009 at 11:56 am

Sorry to be an interloper on your site, but since right now we are stranded in Brazil’s capital, Brazilia, my computer is inacessibe (though packed)l My row-rate was kind enough to lend me hers. We we one hour from arrival at Sao Paulo (on the plane with Betty Ann, The Passells, Donna Compton, Fred Hamilton and Rose Boot) when we got the word SP is fogged in indefifinitely so we cannot circle as we are practically out of gas, and are waiting here for news of our destiny while refueling.

Unfortunately, the fog will affect every other airline destined for SP till it lifts and they have no clue exactly when that will be. I have had all sorts of dilemnas with this game, but this is the first time fog has been a deterrent.

Hopefully we will be on our way soon — but no guarantees.

So — SAO PAULO — here we come — but no promises when.