Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Dealer: North

Vul: N/S

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


South West North East
    1 2
3 NT All Pass    

Opening Lead:7

“What we anticipate seldom occurs; what we least expected generally happens.”

— Benjamin Disraeli

At a recent New Zealand Nationals, the organizers instituted a play of the day. The first prize went to Dave Wiltshire from Australia for his declarer play in today’s deal. (And yes, an easier way to make a living might have been to pass two diamonds and wait for a reopening double.)


Against three no-trump West led the club seven, and when South’s nine won the first trick, Wiltshire could count eight tricks (assuming that the diamond queen was with East). But where would the ninth trick come from? Wiltshire decided that as nobody had bid hearts, there was a very good chance that hearts were 4-4, so at trick two he played the heart eight from hand and ran it!


East gratefully won the 10 and cashed three more rounds of hearts (declarer pitching a spade from dummy and a spade and a club from hand).


East continued with a small diamond, which Wiltshire ran to dummy’s king. He cashed the club king and finessed the diamond jack. Next came the diamond ace, followed by the club ace, reducing everybody down to three cards. Dummy had its three top spades; declarer held the spade jack, a losing diamond and a club. But what were the defenders to keep?


West had to protect the clubs and thus could hold on to no more than two spades. East had to guard the diamonds and thus could retain only two spades. Therefore, because neither opponent could protect spades, dummy was sure to win the last three tricks.

ANSWER: There is truly no clear-cut action here, but you have a choice between a forcing bid of three clubs, a cue-bid of two spades( showing a good hand but normally offering heart support), and a simple raise to three hearts, which understates your high cards while overstating your heart support. Put me in the cue-bidding camp, but I don’t like any of the choices.


South Holds:

J 6
8 3
A J 8 5
A J 9 4 2


South West North East
  1 2 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


Ross TaylorDecember 29th, 2009 at 2:47 pm

Lovely hand – a good one for Linda’s squeeze collection

David WarheitDecember 30th, 2009 at 8:57 am

Seems to me that if East wins the first heart and shifts to diamonds (either a high one or a low one), the defense prevails. East should rather easily find this defense, using the rule of Greeks bearing gifts.

Bobby WolffDecember 30th, 2009 at 1:56 pm

Hi Ross and David,

Let’s play a game called everybody’s right. Tis a lovely hand and David ‘s new nickname should be Greekbuster.

Many years ago (longer than I care to remember) Oswald Jacoby once said to me (I, at the time, was his current youngish abused bridge partner), “There are two areas in bridge which could use specific high-level bridge instructional books”:

1. Breaking up impending squeeze positions.

2. How to discard while defending with Yarboroughs.

David’s comments strike home regarding #1 and the defensive warning light should go on for his reason given.

Reason for #2 would usually center around creating a false perceived scenario for an unsuspecting declarer, leaving it up to partner to determine by his hand, the bidding and declarer’s line of play to not be deceived.

Shortcutting having to create a 52 card example hand, suffice it to say that this week’s AOB hands features a defenders refusal to ruff with an apparently insignificant trump in order to basically not give the overall defensive trump position away. The other truth worth mentioning would be a refusal by a clever defender to discard from three little in a key suit which declarer will eventually have to guess to be successful.

All of the above should appeal to those readers interested in the strictly analytical side of our wonderful game.