Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Dealer: East

Vul: N/S

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


South West North East
2 Pass 4 Dbl.
All Pass      

Opening Lead:6

“I get by with a little help from my friends.”

— Lennon and McCartney

When you are declarer in a 5-3 fit and have a four-card suit in the same hand as the long trumps, keep in mind that the fourth round of that suit may be a loser. Today’s hand, from a recent major pairs tournament, found many declarers wanting.


East’s double of four hearts might have got his side to a paying sacrifice, but it was very dangerous on an aceless hand. In fact, the main effect of the double was to warn declarer of the bad break.


West led his singleton spade to the jack and ace. Many declarers who were not doubled attempted to draw trumps, but they inevitably lost two spades, a heart and a club. Equally unsuccessful would be to lead back a spade, trying to ruff a spade in dummy. West can discard two clubs on the spades. Now when East shifts to a top club, declarer can not now arrange both to score dummy’s two club winners and to ruff a spade in dummy.


Scotland’s Willie Coyle was one of the successful declarers. He won the spade lead, played a diamond to the ace, and ruffed a diamond low. He then led a club to the ace and ruffed another diamond low. Next, he played a club to the king and ruffed a third diamond with a high trump. He had three sure trump tricks to come and had taken the first seven tricks, so was assured of his contract.

ANSWER: When your partner bid one no-trump, you sensibly construed this as natural, but the redouble now must be for rescue, suggesting both minors. With three clubs you can happily run to two clubs, although perhaps “happily” is not the right word in this context. As a general rule, all redoubles after a penalty double are for rescue.


South Holds:

A 10 5 2
A Q J 6 4
5 4 2


South West North East
1 Pass Pass Dbl.
Pass Pass 1 NT Dbl.
Pass Pass Rdbl. 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


David desJardinsJanuary 20th, 2010 at 1:53 am

There is a successful line after declarer chooses to continue spades at trick two. You win the spade ace, play a spade to the nine, East cashes the spade king, and leads a club to the ace. Now you play heart to the jack, club. If West discards a diamond, you can play club king, diamond ace, diamond ruff, spade—if West discards, you elope with the small heart in dummy, and if West ruffs, you overruff and ruff another diamond small as West is forced to follow. So West must ruff the club loser, and return a red suit. If he returns a heart, you can draw trump, and on the fourth round of hearts, East is subject to a non-material trump squeeze in three suits! If he discards a spade, your ten is good. If he discards down to two diamonds, you can set up the long diamond in dummy with a ruff. And, if he discards his last club, you can cash the last trump, discarding the club king from dummy, then cash the small club in your hand, squeezing East in the pointed suits. Finally, suppose West returned a diamond after ruffing the club loser. Now you ruff a diamond and play a spade. If West discards his third diamond, you ruff low, cash heart king, ruff another diamond to hand, and draw trumps. If West ruffs the spade, you overruff, and simply draw trump ending in hand.

Bobby WolffJanuary 20th, 2010 at 1:29 pm

Hi David,

Although some may have their eyes and minds glaze over, you have done a magnificent job of deftly analysing

a complicated hand.

Please bless the beasts, children and bridge analysts. Without them what would little (or not so) bridge columnists do?

You may slow down, for fear of not living up, to our presentation of future AOB hands, but it does feel secure to have you and your natural talent standing by to protect the integrity of the process.

We appreciate your accurate efforts!

Paul BetheJanuary 20th, 2010 at 10:02 pm

David – nice line, but complicated (as I seem to make things too).

At the table, wouldn’t declarer just cash the Ace of Hearts at trick two? If everyone follows, declarer draws trump, and uses dummy’s entries (clubs first) to lead up in spades and score a 10th trick.

When, on this hand, RHO shows out, the line adopted by Willie requires LHO, to have 3 diamonds and 2 clubs. Not much of a stretch when they are known to hold 7 minor suit cards, and East opened 1 Spade not 1 Diamond.