Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Dealer: West

Vul: All

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


South West North East
  2* Dbl. Pass
3 NT All Pass    
*8-12 points; six hearts

Opening Lead:Q

“Do not even listen, simply wait. Do not even wait, be quite still and solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you …”

— Franz Kafka

When a contract appears to depend solely on a finesse, a sound principle states that you should postpone taking that finesse for as long as possible.


Consider today’s deal. With no chance for declarer to develop any tricks in the majors, the three no-trump contract seems to hinge on the spade finesse, but declarer gave himself an extra chance.


West was playing the two-heart call to be close to an opening bid, and he was known to have a six-card suit. Accordingly, declarer won the opening lead of the heart king and decided that the spade finesse could wait. Instead, he immediately advanced a deceptive club five and was charmed to see West follow instinctively with the six. South ducked in the dummy, and now East had to win the trick with the seven. Remarkably, the defenders had missed their last chance to beat the contract.


Declarer won the club return, played four rounds of diamonds ending in hand, and exited with the ace and another club. East had to win and play a spade into dummy’s ace-queen, and that was nine tricks for declarer.


The misdefense was all West’s fault, though I do have some sympathy for him. He should have put in the club 10 when declarer played toward dummy’s king. Then declarer would not have been able to duck a club without letting West on lead to cash all his hearts.


But note that declarer’s play cost nothing. If the club play had not worked, he could always have taken the spade finesse later.

ANSWER: In a contested auction it is acceptable but not mandatory to compete to the two-level after doubling, despite holding a minimum, if you have a fit. However, your diamonds are unremarkable and you are suitable for defense. I’d be inclined to pass and let partner reopen. If you believe takeout doubles always deliver values and suitable shape, then it is up to the responder to take the push here.


South Holds:

A Q 4 2
7 5 4
K 8 7 5
K 3


South West North East
Dbl. Pass 1 2


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