Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Saturday, August 22, 2009

Dealer: South

Vul: All

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


South West North East
1 Pass 2 Pass
2 Pass 2 NT Pass
3 Pass 5 NT* Pass
6 All Pass    
*Offering a choice of slams

Opening Lead:7

“Defeat doesn’t finish a man — quit does. A man is not finished when he’s defeated. He’s finished when he quits.”

— Richard M. Nixon

Against six spades, West hit on the lead of his fourth-highest heart. He was both pleased and surprised to find his partner ruffing the trick and returning a club.


Declarer won in dummy and advanced the spade nine, letting it run, and repeating the finesse when it held.


When trumps turned out to be 4-1, South knew he could not ruff his heart loser on the board. So he drew the last trump and tried to build up a picture of the hand by cashing the diamond ace, going back to dummy in clubs to ruff a diamond, then cashing a second top heart and a second top club. When West was shown to have only one club and one spade, the whole position was known. Since he had started life with six hearts, he must have five diamonds.


Declarer had reduced to a four-card ending after three trumps and two tricks in each of the other suits. Dummy had a top club, a top heart and the doubleton diamond queen. Declarer had a club, a trump and two hearts. (East’s hand was irrelevant, having one diamond and three losing clubs.)


When the club ace was cashed, West had to bare his diamond king (in which case declarer would ruff a diamond and dummy would be high) or pitch a heart. In that case declarer would take dummy’s heart, ruff a diamond to hand, then cash his long heart at trick 13.

ANSWER: You are faced with a choice of raising hearts immediately or bidding spades before raising hearts. While a splinter jump to four diamonds (showing a singleton or void in diamonds) is far better than a jump to four hearts, I prefer a simple call of two spades before raising hearts, letting partner know where you live.


South Holds:

A Q J 10 8
10 6 4 3
8 6 5


South West North East
    1 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

1 Comment

Michael BeyroutiSeptember 5th, 2009 at 12:23 pm

East’s hand is not entirely irrelevant: that last diamond in his hand could very well be the king. Declarer’s decision at the 3-card ending to play diamonds or establish his last heart depends on West’s discards. If West has discarded two diamonds already, then a third-round diamond ruff will bring down the king, be it with East or West, establishing dummy’s queen.

If, on the other hand, West chose to hold on to his diamonds, then he must have discarded only one diamond and three hearts. He started with six hearts: three discarded and three will be played under the A-K-Q. Declarer now knows his ten will be good…

Bottom line: Watch those early discards… One never knows how useful the information will be towards the end.