Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Dealer: North

Vul: E/W

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


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

Opening Lead:10

“How hard it is to make your thoughts look anything but imbecile fools when you paint them with ink on paper.”

— Olive Schreiner

In today’s deal, South, declarer in three no-trump, won the heart lead in dummy to advance the club king. East elected to win this and continued hearts. Declarer took this in hand and played a diamond, and West made the natural-looking play of going in with the ace to play hearts again.


However, declarer simply won the heart, took the diamond king, led the club six to his jack, and played the diamond 10. West won and finally switched to a spade, but declarer could win dummy’s ace, take the club queen, then cross with his carefully preserved three of clubs to his five, and cash the established diamond nine for his ninth trick.


The defense to beat three no-trump is not easy to find. West must duck the first diamond, rather than taking his ace. If he wins the diamond ace, a shift to a low spade may be of no avail, as declarer can duck and still establish the second diamond trick later on. Even a high spade shift is no good if South reads the position and ducks the trick, winning the second spade with the ace to play a third spade.


However, if West ducks the first diamond and wins the second, he might be able to work out that a spade shift is needed. The winning play is to lead the spade jack, establishing two spade tricks by force for the defenders. West still has the diamond queen as a re-entry for a second spade play if necessary.

ANSWER: You have a good enough hand to force to game, and almost certainly you will end in four spades since partner has virtually guaranteed length in both majors. But it does not cost anything to cue-bid two diamonds and then bid spades. You may find that your side can make slam, or that some other contract is superior.


South Holds:

A Q 4 3
K 7 4
K Q 6 3


South West North East
1 1 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


David WarheitOctober 28th, 2009 at 12:08 pm

East can also defeat the contract. He should duck the club king. Declarer’s only way out now is to lead the club six towards his hand, but now East rises with the ace. Isn’t that what we all learned early on: aces were meant to take sixes!

Bobby WolffOctober 29th, 2009 at 2:24 am

Hi David,

Thanks for creating more thoughts and especially ones wherein certain necessary plays look to be against established principles.

Someone, a very good player at the time, but one who didn’t get much notice, once commented “The reason bridge is the best card game ever invented is that defying convention often wins the jackpot”.

Doing so is usually the mark of a great analyst who understands the complex nature of either declaring or defending a hand which requires a precise series of plays to succeed. Proceeding further, sometimes that talent does not also include being able to do such things as often as necessary at the table, causing that player to always be thought of as a great napkin player (meaning being able to analyze the hand after the game when someone at either a bar or food table gives the analyst the hand to play or defend on a napkin).

Why?, I certainly do not know, but go figure!