Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, September 24, 2009

Dealer: South

Vul: None

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


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

Opening Lead:Q

“Believe me, wise men do not say, ‘I shall live to do that’; tomorrow life’s too late: live today.”

— Martial

Consider the play in four spades today, a contract that looks likely to be comfortable until the heart ace turns up offside. The defenders lead three rounds of hearts, forcing you to ruff in hand. Have you formed a plan yet?


Well, if you ruffed the third heart low (sacrificing your only entry to dummy), you can kiss your contract goodbye. You must ruff high, then plan how to dispose of either your club or diamond loser.


One chance is simply to rely on the club finesse after ruffing a fourth diamond high in dummy; but that is no better than a 50 percent chance. Can you do better?


An alternative approach would be to guess to lead out the club ace, then the queen, hoping to draw trumps ending in dummy, then pitch your diamonds on the two winning clubs. Alas, the defenders can lead a third round of clubs when in with the king, ruffing away one of your potential homes for a diamond loser. It would be unlucky to run into this bad club break, but hardly unexpected.


Better still is to cash precisely one high trump, then lead out the club queen. If West wins the trick, you will win the return and unblock the club ace, then draw trumps ending in dummy and claim. If West ducks, you play the club ace, then three rounds of diamonds. You can now arrange to ruff the diamond loser in dummy for your 10th trick.

ANSWER: Your partner’s auction suggests 16-18 and real clubs and spades (else he would have opened one no-trump or jumped to two no-trump at his second turn). With less in high cards, he would have simply passed two clubs. You have decent playing strength, enough to move to game, and I guess that three no-trump will play as well as five of the minor. So bid three no-trump now.


South Holds:

4 3
Q J 10 9
J 4
K 9 7 3 2


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