Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Dealer: South

Vul: E/W

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


South West North East
1 2 3 Pass
4 All Pass    

Opening Lead:K

“Peril as a possession

’Tis good to bear,

Danger disintegrates satiety.”

— Emily Dickinson

Today’s four-spade contract contains a theme that we are all familiar with in theory, but that we all occasionally miss at the table.


When the deal came up, it was at IMP scoring, meaning that overtricks were relatively unimportant, while ensuring the contract was really all that mattered.


The unsuccessful declarer received the defense of three top hearts. Having seen East echo in hearts, he guessed to ruff the third heart high, then drew two rounds of trumps and found the bad news. Now he could throw East in with a trump after playing off three rounds of clubs, hoping the queen-jack would fall, but it was in vain. That player could exit in either minor, and when the diamond finesse lost, declarer was down one. This was admittedly unlucky — the bad heart and spade breaks and losing finesse had all conspired against him. But was there anything he could have done?


Indeed there was. At the other table declarer executed a loser-on-loser play to all but guarantee his contract. He would fail only against a 4-0 break in trumps, a far smaller chance than having the spades and hearts failing to cooperate. Here too the defenders led out the three top hearts, but declarer riposted by throwing dummy’s diamond loser away on the third trick.


Now as long as the trumps split no worse than 3-1, he was guaranteed 10 tricks by ruffing a diamond in dummy.

ANSWER: Your partner is not looking for no-trump, so you should have no reason to be interested in playing in anything except a minor-suit. It looks simplest to raise diamonds now; if partner wants to play in diamonds, you will have no objections, of course. But this may also be the way to get to a minor-suit slam.


South Holds:

Q 10 4 2
5 2
A 6 2
K 10 5 2


South West North East
    1 Pass
1 Pass 2 Pass
3 Pass 3 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