Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Dealer: South

Vul: All

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


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

Opening Lead:K

“If a thing is worth doing, it is worth doing badly.”

— G.K. Chesterton

We saw yesterday that there is rarely any hurry to take a finesse. If it can win at the start of the deal, it is likely to be winning later on. And sometimes there are better things to do than risk a 50-50 play.


That said, how would you set about playing four hearts today on the lead of a top diamond?


The best play is to take the diamond king with the ace and play off your two top hearts, rejecting the finesse. The point is that you cannot afford to surrender the tempo if the finesse loses to a doubleton or tripleton queen. Your priority is to dispose of your losing diamonds without running into a ruff.


Next, take four rounds of spades, pitching diamonds from the board. It would do neither defender any good to ruff in on the fourth round of spades, even if he could. Of course, West will still be hoping to win his club king and draw two trumps for one. But you will disappoint him again. You ruff a diamond in dummy, come to hand with the club ace — rejecting a finesse for a second time — then ruff your fourth diamond.


You can now concede a club and a heart trick, making your contract with an overtrick. But had you taken an early heart finesse, you would have gone down. Had you taken a club finesse, you would have made only 10 tricks.

ANSWER: Your partner’s auction shows 18-20 or so. With a little less, he would have bid one no-trump at his first turn, and with a balanced 12-14 he would have passed after doubling, or not bid at all. Your decent intermediates make you just worth a game-try of two no-trump, although a pessimistic pass (especially if your partner’s calls or card-play can’t be trusted) would be understandable.


South Holds:

Q 9
8 7 4 2
A 6 5
10 9 5 2


South West North East
  1 Dbl. Pass
1 Pass 1 NT 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

1 Comment

David desJardinsOctober 24th, 2009 at 6:48 am

Taking the club finesse limits you to 10 tricks when West has the club king and the third heart. But it lets you make 12 tricks whenever East has the club king, which is more than twice as often. So it seems like it gains on average.