Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Dealer: North

Vul: E/W

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


South West North East
    Pass Pass
1 1 Dbl. 2
3 All Pass    

Opening Lead:K

“It is not worthwhile to go round the world to count the cats in Zanzibar.”

— Henry David Thoreau

No great mathematical aptitude is needed to play bridge well. Sometimes, if you are totaling up points, you need to be able to count to 40, but more often than not, being able to add up to 13 is high enough.


Today’s play in three spades is all about locating the trump queen. North’s double was negative, promising four spades and a few values. South showed good appreciation of his assets when he jumped to three spades, but North had nothing to spare for his previous bidding, so passed. Note that the jump to three spades is invitational — it is not a jump in a new suit, which would be forcing, because North’s negative double implies spade length so South is supporting North..


At the table the defenders started by taking the top clubs and getting their ruff. Now, after East played back a heart, West tried to cash a second heart, which was ruffed by declarer. The fate of the contract boils down to finding the trump queen. West is known to be shorter in clubs than his partner, but does that mean declarer should finesse in spades, or play for an original 3-2 break?


Curiously, South did not have to guess. Before touching trumps, declarer cashed the ace and king of diamonds and ruffed a diamond in the dummy. When West followed three times, his distribution was known to have been 1-5-3-4. Declarer now cashed the spade king before taking the spade finesse, certain that it would work.

ANSWER: You have a nice hand, though not a spectacular one, enough to feel like competing again. Because your partner has taken no positive action, a double from you here would be takeout, suggesting some spade length and extra values. You cannot be sure that you have a fit, but if you do want to bid again, this is the safest and most descriptive way to proceed.


South Holds:

A J 10 4
A K J 4 3
J 10 2


South West North East
  Pass Pass 1
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