Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Dealer: West

Vul: None

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


South West North East
  1 Pass 1
4 Dbl. All Pass  

Opening Lead:J

“Calm, calm me more! nor let me die

Before I have begun to live.”

— Matthew Arnold

Players do not always play their best under tournament pressure. When today’s hand occurred at the table, many players went off. Yet when presented as a problem, in leisurely surroundings and with no time constraint, many more found the winning line.


Against four hearts doubled, West naturally led the singleton spade jack. At the table, the unsuccessful South won with dummy’s ace and continued with another spade to the king, his plan being to ruff two further spades in dummy. Unlucky! West ruffed the king and continued with ace and another trump. Now, only one trump remained in dummy with which to cope with two losing spades in hand. South could still have succeeded if both the ace and queen of clubs were with West, but as you see, it was not to be, and these declarers ended with just eight tricks. East could win the club queen and play a third spade, cutting declarer off from dummy’s club winner.


However, there is a virtually foolproof line for 10 tricks, as long as West holds the club ace, very likely on the bidding. On winning with the spade ace in dummy, declarer continues with the spade three and ducks in hand. Now the defense is helpless. Even if East had a trump to return, or West had ruffed East’s spade winner and then played ace and another heart, there is still a trump in dummy to take care of South’s losing spade.

ANSWER: Both your opponents have limited their hands at their second turn to speak, so you need have no reason to assume that you will be poking your head into the lion’s mouth by bidding two diamonds now. You have both the values and the suit-length to make bidding far more attractive than passing. If you assume your partner will always be shape-suitable for his takeout double, how badly can two diamonds play now?


South Holds:

A 3
10 9 6
8 7 5 4 3
K 10 6


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