Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Dealer: North

Vul: E/W

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


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

Opening Lead:Q

“They who dream by day are cognizant of many things which escape those who dream only by night.”

— Edgar Allan Poe

Today’s deal comes from a recent national tournament, where Han Peters outplayed a multiple world champion in the other room.


Both Souths preferred to conceal their second suit, so played three no-trump. (Of course, four hearts would have been far easier.) As expected, both Wests led a top heart instead of the fatal club.


The unsuccessful declarer won and played a diamond to the queen, which was allowed to hold. Now, on the diamond ace and another diamond, South fatally pitched two hearts. East won her diamond king, cashed the heart jack, and shifted to a spade. When declarer ducked, West could win, take his heart trick, then lead a club, locking the lead in dummy so that the defenders were sure to collect a club. Had South risen with the spade ace to play another spade, dummy would have had to pitch a heart or a club, and the defenders would get their fifth trick before declarer had nine.


Peters did better when on the same start he discarded spades from hand. The defenders unblocked the hearts and led a spade, but he won the ace and played a third heart, setting up his ninth trick before the defenders had their club winner developed.


If East shifts to spades before unblocking hearts, declarer must play for the hearts to be blocked. He finesses in spades, then hops up with the club ace, runs the diamonds while pitching hearts, and exits with a club. The defenders can now take only four tricks.

ANSWER: You have an absolute maximum, but a bad club holding. Instead of committing yourself to a game or a part-score, bid three hearts to show heart values and let partner decide if that makes his hand better or worse. If he signs off in three spades, you should probably pass.


South Holds:

K 4 3
K Q 8
8 7 5
9 7 6 2


South West North East
    1 Dbl.
2 Pass 3 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