Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Dealer: East

Vul: E/W

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


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

Opening Lead:3

“The public…demands certainties …. But there are no certainties.”

— H.L. Mencken

In this deal from the Houston North American Pairs last spring, the field played four hearts on a diamond lead. It looks normal to play three rounds of diamonds, ruffing in dummy. Now you cash the heart king, play a spade to your king, and cash the heart ace, finding out the bad news.


Your only chance now is a trump endplay, and you need to reduce trumps twice to achieve that. When you exit with your spade queen, East must win and should not exit with a spade. If he does, you ruff, cross to the club ace to ruff a spade, then exit with a club to collect one of the last two tricks. Instead, East plays a club at the critical moment, and you can no longer ruff two spades in hand.


You may be able to do better, although protecting against 4-1 hearts onside with West having a low singleton trump may be against the odds. Win the opening diamond lead in dummy and play a spade to the king. If it holds the trick, exit with the spade queen. The defenders rate to return a diamond. After that you can ruff a diamond, cash the heart king, then ruff a spade. When you take the heart ace to find the 4-1 break, you can then enter dummy with the club ace and ruff another spade.


You have nine of the first 10 tricks in the bag, can exit with a second club, and will collect a trump trick from your J-9.

ANSWER: Bidding a major suit in response to an overcall suggests either a five-carder or better, or a really good four-card suit. Your spades do not qualify, so simply bid one no-trump and rely on partner to introduce the spades if that is the right strain for your side to declare.


South Holds:

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


South West North East
  1 1 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