Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, October 15, 2009

Dealer: South

Vul: All

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


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

Opening Lead:2

“I’d rather fight than switch.”

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One of the hardest defenses to find against no-trump is to take a trick or two in one suit, switch to another suit, and then revert to the first suit.


But watch Fulvio Fantoni and Claudio Nunes, of the current Italian World Champions, at work. Against no-trump they lead fourth highest from suits with no honors, and third or fifth from suits with honors. So on this deal Nunes, West, led the spade two.


From East’s point of view, a five-card suit headed by the ace was a possibility, but it was rather more likely that West held four small cards. On the other hand, from declarer’s point of view, it was more likely that West held one of the spade honors and therefore that he held a five-card suit.


Accordingly, when East played the spade jack at trick one, declarer ducked. And he ducked again when East continued with the queen. But now East switched to a heart and declarer was sunk. If he won, the defenders would have two heart tricks to cash when West got in with the club king. If declarer ducked, West could win the queen and switch back to spades (knowing East had four spades from South’s Stayman response). That set up the defenders’ fifth trick to cash when West won the club king.


Notice that if West leads a fourth-highest spade two, declarer should win his ace at trick one. Now with the club king well placed, three no-trump should always make.

ANSWER: This is more a question of partnership agreement than of right or wrong. But I believe that the best way to play when the opponents intervene over one no-trump is to use a double by opener or responder for takeout. So I would double here, suggesting four hearts and values.


South Holds:

9 6
J 8 6 5
A Q 9 5 2
Q 7


South West North East
    1 NT 2


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