Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, December 23, 2010

Dealer: South

Vul: All


8 4

10 8 7

10 9 7 2

A 10 9 5


Q 10 9 7 3

K 4 3

K 5

7 4 3


J 6 5

Q 6 5 2

6 4 3

K 8 6


A K 2

A J 9

A Q J 8

Q J 2


South West North East
2 NT Pass 3 NT All Pass

Opening Lead: 10

“But society has now fairly got the better of individuality; and the danger which threatens human nature is not the excess, but the deficiency, of personal impulses and preferences.”

— John Stuart Mill

Some deals that require nothing more subtle than basic technique nonetheless can be surprisingly difficult until you see the point.

In today’s deal from the Dyspeptics Club, South was at the helm in three no-trump. He started well when he ducked the opening spade lead and won the second. Then he took the club finesse, won the spade continuation, and ran off his club winners before taking the losing diamond finesse. Alas for him, West had two spades to cash — down one.

North snapped his pencil and muttered something uncharitable about bridge in the slow lane. Was he right to be upset?

I can understand his frustration, although I suspect I might have been sympathetic to an inexperienced partner who had made the same mistake. Nevertheless, South had a blind spot, the point being that he needed to establish both minors, but also had to keep the danger hand (West) off lead once spades had been established.

The right approach on winning the first top spade is to play the diamond ace followed by the diamond queen, not caring who takes the trick. As it happens, West wins the diamond king and plays a third spade to your ace. Now South can run the club queen; East can take his king when he likes, but cannot prevent declarer from scoring three clubs, three diamonds, two spades and one heart.


South Holds:

8 4
10 8 7
10 9 7 2
A 10 9 5


South West North East
    1 1
Pass 2 Dbl. Pass
3 Pass 3 Pass
ANSWER: When you passed initially and made a minimum raise of clubs at your second turn, you essentially denied holding more than about a six-count. Now that partner has made a try for game, you cannot treat your hand as a minimum anymore. In context, your values must be enough to give partner a play for game, so bid five clubs.


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 2010. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact