Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Saturday, September 5, 2009

Dealer: West

Vul: E/W

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


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

Opening Lead:Q

“A newspaper is a device for making the ignorant more ignorant and the crazy crazier.”

— H.L. Mencken

A “newspaper hand” is a slang term for a bridge play that is flashy or against the odds. Do you think today’s deal falls under that heading, or is it simply the percentage action?


Against four spades West leads the heart queen, placing East with the heart king, unless West is playing a very deep game. Accordingly, West must hold the balance of high cards for his opening bid to be legitimate.


As you don’t want East to gain the lead and play a club through, take your heart ace only if East covers his partner’s queen. Otherwise, play low at trick one.


Suppose East plays low. You duck, win the heart ace, and take the three top diamonds to shed your heart loser from hand. You now ruff a heart and play on trumps, leading the 10 to persuade West to duck. Assume West finds the best defense of winning the spade ace and returning a second spade. You win, draw any outstanding trumps, and now reach the critical moment.


To succeed in this contract, you must lead the club queen from your hand, an unnatural play based on the idea that West must have both of the missing high clubs.


If West ducks, you make two club tricks rather more easily than expected. If West takes the queen with his ace, he then has the choice of leading away from the club jack around to your 10, or conceding a ruff and sluff. Either way, you score 10 tricks.

ANSWER: It is hard to imagine any game but three no-trump being right, and it would be only marginally presumptuous to jump to that contract at once. But it costs very little to start by cue-bidding two clubs. You might find a spade fit, or it might become apparent that your side has a real weakness in hearts.


South Holds:

Q 9 6 5
8 7 2
K 5 3


South West North East
  1 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