Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Dealer: West

Vul: E/W

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


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

Opening Lead:2

“This imputation of inconsistency is one to which every sound politician and every honest thinker must sooner or later subject himself. The foolish and the dead alone never change their opinion.”

— James Russell Lowell

Today’s deal comes from the Junior Bridge Camp held in Piestany in 2006. Declarer, Irene Baroni, is one of the young superstars in the making in Italian bridge.


Kevin Dwyer’s lead of the diamond two against four spades went to the king and ace, and back came a club. Baroni took the ace, dropping the queen to her surprise. Now the diamond queen allowed dummy’s club to be discarded, East following with the seven.


The heart finesse lost, and East returned a third diamond, letting Baroni discard a heart from hand and ruff in dummy.


The contract now hinged on finding the spade jack, but Baroni decided to do some exploration first. She played the heart ace and ruffed a heart as East pitched a club. Now came the club king, on which West carefully pitched a diamond rather than ruffing in, then the club 10 and six, the last ruffed in dummy, with West discarding each time. In the three-card ending, with Q-10-8 of trumps in hand and K-9-7 in dummy, whom should you play for the jack? Baroni correctly led a trump to the 10 and made her contract.


All credit to West, though, for not ruffing in at any point. While it is always easy to see why one should get positions of this sort right when all 52 cards are visible, at the table things are much harder.


Declarer’s only clue was that West’s lead, coupled with his discards, and East’s decision to lead a third diamond suggested a 7-3 split there. If so, that meant West had begun with only two spades.

ANSWER: Although you have a little extra shape, your minor-suit holdings are very unattractive and you have already shown your sixth heart, while denying a dead minimum. Hence you have nothing in hand and should pass, hoping you are not already too high.


South Holds:

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


South West North East
1 Pass 1 NT 2
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


Michael BeyroutiJanuary 3rd, 2010 at 1:33 pm

Dear Mr Wolff,

not to take anything away from the fine analysis (and the fine play by both South and West) in an interesting hand, there is a small discrepancy. Declarer ruffed in dummy twice: a) the return of a third diamond by East, and b) the club six from hand. In the three-card ending, Dummy is left with K-9 of trumps and a heart. I am curious as to what Baroni decided to play off Dummy at that point.

Bobby WolffJanuary 4th, 2010 at 6:15 am

Hi Michael,

You are correct that there are only two trumps left in dummy, since, as you describe, declarer has ruffed the 3d diamond led by the opponents in dummy and then later ruffs the 6 of clubs in dummy. Declarer, of course is apparently left with Q108 of spades with dummy’s other card, besides the K9 of spades a heart. If that indeed is the final position it would probably be right to lead dummy’s 9 of spades with the intention of passing it and effectively playing East for the spade jack.

This hand reminds me not to attempt relatively complicated end positions since if the author and his proof readers cannot get it right, what about the poor reader?

Thank you for paying attention. From what I hear, the young Italian female declarer is still another expert to be in her later stages of development. Bridge learning at higher levels offers many worthwhile intellectual challenges and my wish would be that one fine day we would see that opportunity acted on in our country.

Happy Holidays!