Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, December 21, 2009

Dealer: South

Vul: E/W

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


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

Opening Lead:K

“I have found the best way to give advice to your children is to find out what they want and then advise them to do it.”

— Harry S. Truman

“At least I guessed which way to finesse for the trump queen. It was only the 4-1 break that beat me,” claimed declarer.


“The choice of direction for the finesse was no guess, and the 4-1 break should not have been a problem,” retorted his partner.


West led the heart king against four spades, and declarer counted three losers in the side suits. South won the lead, then, after mentally tossing a coin, chose to play East for the trump queen, since the opening lead marked West with longer hearts than his partner.


Declarer led a low trump to the ace, then played a small spade from dummy back to the 10. The good news was that the 10 held; the bad news was that West showed out, leaving an inevitable trump loser to send the contract down one.


North was right in the post-mortem. If spades break 3-2, then it is a guess as to who has the queen. But what if trumps are 4-1? The key here is the location of the trump eight and nine: it is not possible to pick up Q-9-7-6 of spades with West, because the spade nine would lie over the eight, permitting just one finesse. But if East has that holding, declarer can take two trump finesses, first against the queen, then against the nine.


Thus, after declarer plays dummy’s spade ace, he must continue with the jack. East covers, the king wins, the club ace is flushed out, and dummy is re-entered for a finesse against the spade nine.

ANSWER: Declarer rates to have five or six clubs and be short in both majors. Partner’s failure to raise spades suggests he too may be weak in that suit. All of this argues for trying to set up tricks in diamonds before declarer can pitch his losers in that suit on dummy’s major-suit holdings. However, if I had the J-10 of spades, I might lead from the sequence.


South Holds:

J 9 4 3
A 10 8 6
Q 5 2
J 9


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