Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Dealer: South

Vul: E/W

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


South West North East
1 1 2 Pass
4 All Pass    

Opening Lead:10

“Metaphysics is the finding of bad reasons for what we believe upon instinct, but to find these reasons is no less an instinct.”

— F.H. Bradley

Sometimes the knee-jerk reaction to cover the card led can be a mistake. Take this deal, for example, a combination of tempo and avoidance issues.


South played in four hearts after West had overcalled in spades. When West tabled his singleton diamond 10, apparently marking East with the top diamonds and West with the club king, South reached automatically for dummy’s jack. Everybody covered, and South wasted no time in drawing trumps. Then he played a second diamond to East. All would have been well for declarer had East made the knee-jerk shift to a spade now, but East accurately switched to a club. West was sure to score his club king and spade ace, and that added up to a one-trick set.


Do you see the point of the deal? If South plays low from dummy and his own hand at trick one, West remains on lead. Now South will have no difficulty in setting up dummy’s fifth diamond as a discard for his losing club, while keeping East off lead until it is too late for the club shift to hurt.


The other attraction in ducking the diamond 10 is that you get to find out at once if diamonds are 2-2 or 3-1. If East produces the eight, you know diamonds are 3-1; if he overtakes the 10, diamonds must be 2-2. On a different deal, that particular piece of knowledge might impact declarer’s strategy (for example, deciding whether to take a safety-play or not).

ANSWER: Your partner’s double shows extras, short hearts, and suggests four diamonds along with good clubs. It would be simple to bid only three clubs or three diamonds, but I would take a slight gamble and bid four diamonds. After all, if you are facing a singleton heart, you might easily get your slow spade losers away on partner’s clubs and just lose the major-suit aces.


South Holds:

K 7 5
J 9 2
J 9 7 3 2
Q 5


South West North East
  1 2 Pass
Pass 2 Dbl. 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