Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Saturday, November 21, 2009

Dealer: West

Vul: E/W

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


South West North East
  Pass Pass Pass
2 Pass 2 Pass
2 Pass 3♣* Pass
3 NT All Pass    
*0-4 points, any hand

Opening Lead:5

“His imagination resembled the wings of an ostrich. It enabled him to run, though not to soar.”

— Lord Macaulay (on Dryden)

If you want a challenge, cover up the East and West cards and see if you would have done better than the top-class international who misplayed this hand.


Against three no-trump West led the heart five to East’s king and South’s ace. Declarer started by playing ace, king and another club. East discarded a couple of diamonds as West won and continued with the heart jack. What next?


South won the heart queen and ran the clubs. Since East seemed to have started with the guards in diamonds, if he also held the spade king, he would be squeezed if West cashed his hearts. So South now exited with a heart. But West cashed his hearts as East discarded spades easily. Now a diamond exit from West forced declarer to lead away from the spade tenace and go one down.


Do you see where South went wrong? East appeared to have begun life with at least five diamonds when he discarded two of them on the early rounds of clubs. If he had started with four or fewer diamonds, he would surely have had spare hearts or spades to throw. So When South won the second heart, he should have cashed the diamond ace. Now he takes the remaining club winners and exits with a heart from dummy, and West has to lead a spade for South at the end.


When defending, remember that it is often much easier to pitch from a five-card suit than a four-carder — and declarer knows that too!

ANSWER: You are not overly endowed with high cards, but you do possess nice shape and apparently (facing relatively short hearts and a decent hand) have your cards in the right place. Jump to four spades rather than signing off in three spades or (horrors!) passing two no-trump.


South Holds:

K J 3 2
J 10 6 5 2
Q 9 4


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