Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Saturday, March 6, 2010

Dealer: East

Vul: All

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


South West North East
4 All Pass    

Opening Lead:K

“Lookers-on see most of the game.”

— English proverb

One of my readers, Jim Beall, sent me a deal that had appeared in another bridge column, but he added a perceptive comment. See if you can match his analysis.


In a Vanderbilt tournament Ron Smith and his counterpart both played this deal in four hearts after East had opened two spades. Both received a top club lead and spade shift.


The unsuccessful declarer won the spade ace and let the heart jack run to West when East showed out. West continued spades and got a second heart trick via a trump promotion on the third round of spades — down one.


By contrast Smith, who foresaw what might happen if the opposing hearts were divided 4-0, immediately played the diamond king and ace, then advanced the diamond jack, pitching his spade to achieve a Scissors Coup before touching trumps. Now the defenders had no communication for the trump promotion.


As Beall pointed out, so long as the unsuccessful declarer believed East began with six spades, he should have been able to avoid losing a swing. To circumnavigate the trump promotion, once trumps are known to split 4-0, South must not let the heart jack run to West. Instead, declarer overtakes dummy’s heart jack with his ace, takes the diamond king, finesses in diamonds, pitches his losing spade on the diamond ace, and concedes two trump tricks. He risks going down two, but it is his only practical chance.


Incidentally, at trick three, running the club jack to pitch a spade should also be considered.

ANSWER: One possible start is to cue-bid two hearts to show a limit raise or better. (Remember, a jump to three clubs is WEAK, neither a limit raise nor a forcing raise.) Better, though, is a jump cue-bid to three hearts, showing a game-forcing hand in clubs and a singleton heart — a splinter-bid. That lets partner decide on which game to play, with a good idea about your primary support and heart shortage.


South Holds:

A 7 6
A J 5 3
J 10 9 5 4


South West North East
    1 1


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