Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Dealer: South

Vul: E/W

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


South West North East
1 Pass 2 Pass
3♣* Pass 3 Pass
4 All Pass    
*Long-suit game-try

Opening Lead:10

“I only took the regular course … the different branches of Arithmetic – Ambition, Distraction, Uglification and Derision.”

— Lewis Carroll

Today’s deal, from a tournament in Australia, showed that the demise of a contract is frequently due to declarer’s taking his eye off the ball when things look too easy. That is precisely the moment to concentrate, trying to work out what might go wrong.


First let’s look at what happened to South in four spades. The opening lead of the club 10 went to the ace. Declarer could see that unless he lost two spade tricks, he would be home. He led a diamond to dummy’s ace and a spade back to his king. He then cashed his second top club and ruffed a club. Now, when he led a second trump from dummy, East rose with the ace and thoughtfully underled his heart ace to put his partner in with the king. West returned the diamond queen, and East ruffed away dummy’s diamond king and exited with a club, forcing declarer to ruff in hand. As there was still another diamond to lose, declarer finished down one.


While a low diamond lead would have defeated the game, declarer should have considered the risk of the defenders getting a ruff, even on a club lead. To prevent this, the winning line is to start cutting the defenders’ communications by leading a low heart at trick two. Declarer wins the club return, crosses to the diamond ace, and plays a trump as before, then takes the club ruff for the second trump play, and East is helpless.

ANSWER: It cannot be right to bid three spades — if your partner had extra shape, he would have acted himself already. So the choice is to pass or double; and since a double here simply shows a good hand with decent defense, it looks reasonable to me — so long as you can be sure partner is on the same wavelength. If not, pass out three clubs and avoid disaster.


South Holds:

10 6 2
Q 9 5 4
A K 9 3
8 5


South West North East
    1 Pass
2 3 Pass 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