Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, September 4, 2009

Dealer: East

Vul: N/S

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


South West North East
Pass Pass Dbl. Pass
3 All Pass    

Opening Lead:A

“Accidents will occur in the best-regulated families.”

— Charles Dickens

In today’s deal South responded three spades to his partner’s double, thinking that if he was forced to bid again, it would be more economical to have bid the higher suit first. However, it is surely better to bid hearts first, as partner might now conveniently introduce a spade suit, whereas it would be much harder to introduce hearts over three spades.


Against three spades West led the club ace, on which East dropped the king as suit-preference. West obediently switched to the heart jack, ruffed by East, who continued with the club queen.


South ruffed in dummy and played the ace and queen of spades. West won the king and played a diamond won by dummy’s queen. Now a heart to the ace was the entry to draw West’s last trump. Another heart was played, South eventually disposing of his losing club on dummy’s long heart. So three spades came home.


After the top club lead and heart shift, there are two implausible ways to set the hand: East can refuse to ruff the heart jack, or equally curiously, West can duck the spade queen.


In the other room South played in three hearts and received the lead of ace and another club. He ruffed, played the heart ace, and now instead of taking the diamond finesse, led another heart. West ducked, locking the lead in dummy. West could win his spade king to draw trumps, then collect a minor-suit winner at the end for down one.

ANSWER: You can simply raise to two spades, suggesting three or four spades and a minimum hand. Alternatively, bid two diamonds, planning to convert a preference to two hearts to two spades. That shows this pattern but guarantees a nonminimum opening bid. You could sell me on that action with as little extra as the heart jack, but as it is, I prefer the simpler choice of raising spades directly.


South Holds:

A Q 7
Q 7 6 4 2
A Q 8 4


South West North East
1 Pass 1 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


David desJardinsSeptember 23rd, 2009 at 3:00 am

So declarer should ruff with the spade queen at trick 3. 🙂

Bobby WolffSeptember 26th, 2009 at 3:25 pm

Hi David,

Right you are. I feel like the patsy, while at a carnival having the masses throw cream pies (or worse) at my unprotected head. Actually though you represent the incredibly sharp bridge expert group who, I am proud to say, read what is being written.

Thank you and continue keeping us on our toes and off the ones of the public.


David WarheitOctober 1st, 2009 at 5:24 am

Sept. 3 column. S can also succeed, after eliminating diamonds and 3 rounds of spades, by playing the club queen and another club, throwing E in and forcing him to lead diamonds, losing only when W has queen-ten doubleton. This play is 90%m which is pretty good but not as good as the actual line which is 100%.