Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Saturday, September 12, 2009

Dealer: North

Vul: None

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


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

Opening Lead:4

“How hard to make a man appear a fool, a blockhead, or a knave, without using any of those opprobrious terms!”

— John Dryden

Good players make fewer mistakes than bad ones, but sometimes playing against experts becomes easier because you know what they are supposed to have for the bidding and play thus far.


Sometimes these inferences about the opponents’ hands can be overdone — although in the deal that follows I do have sympathy for South, declaring five diamonds in the European Women’s Championships. Cover the East and West cards and decide how you might play that contract on the lead of the diamond four.


South’s auction had suggested significant length in both minors, and dummy was quite likely to put down its actual shape. Needing to be in dummy at trick two to play a club, and believing that East has the diamond queen, you carefully win dummy’s diamond king and play a club toward your hand. When East takes the club ace and switches to a heart, you rise with the ace, thoughtfully ruff a club high in dummy, and finesse in trumps. Then you draw the last trump and have 11 tricks whenever clubs are 3-3 and diamonds are not 4-1.


However, there is one other small snag, as you will see when you look at the defenders’ hands. Do you like Madeleine Swanstrom’s initial trump lead in this deal from Sweden-Italy in the 1989 European Championships? Try to beat the contract on any other defense! As it was, South almost fell off her chair when West produced the diamond queen — always a satisfying moment for any defender.

ANSWER: You may not like your prospects on defense, but your partner knows approximately what you have and has suggested defending. Since your side clearly has no fit in the majors, you would probably be best advised to pass rather than make matters worse by looking for a better place to play, when there clearly is none.


South Holds:

K Q 10 8 5
Q 8 5 3
K J 6


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