Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, January 8, 2010

Dealer: North

Vul: None

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


South West North East
    1 Pass
1 Pass 1 NT Pass
2♣* Pass 2 Pass
4 All Pass    
*Artificial relay

Opening Lead:10

“There is a pleasure in poetic pains

Which only Poets know.”

— William Wordsworth

Is there anybody out there who does not enjoy taking a finesse — when it wins? And is there anybody who enjoys seeing their finesses lose?


If we exclude the masochists, a losing finesse can still be satisfactory if it ensures the contract. Look at today’s deal to see how this can happen.


If West leads a heart against four spades, some Souths will finesse, immediately losing one heart and three club tricks. Unlucky? Up to a point. A better plan is for declarer to put up dummy’s ace and plan the play to keep East off lead for the potentially fatal club shift through declarer’s king. The correct line for declarer is to cash the top diamonds at once, then go back to dummy with a trump and lead the diamond jack. South’s intention is to ruff if East produces the queen, or if he does not, to discard his remaining heart.


As the cards lie, West wins this trick and can do no better than lead his last diamond. East ruffs and South overruffs. South leads a low trump to dummy and advances the heart queen. Again, the intention is to ruff if East covers, or to discard if he does not. In either case, declarer establishes a 10th trick, since dummy has another trump for the final re-entry to the board to play off the heart jack and pitch another club.

ANSWER: Your choice is to raise what is known to be a five-card suit to two spades (partner would make a negative double with only four spades) or bid one no-trump to protect the heart tenace. I prefer to raise spades. You have such pronounced weaknesses in both minors that I would not risk playing no-trump unless partner suggests it.


South Holds:

A J 8
J 10 7 5
9 7 4


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