Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, March 18, 2010

Dealer: East

Vul: E/W

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


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

Opening Lead:3

“Honesty is a good thing but it is not profitable to its possessor unless it is kept under control.”

— Don Marquis

Neither of the major-suit games was really anything to write home about on this deal from the second qualifying session of the Silodor Open Pairs held at the U.S. Nationals in Houston last spring.


In four spades declarer would need to find a minor miracle in the trump suit to hold the losers to two. However, one South bid to four hearts after East had opened one diamond. West therefore led that suit, and declarer won the diamond ace to play a low spade from hand. What should you do as East after winning the spade jack?


If you play two rounds of diamonds, declarer will ruff, give up a spade, cross to the heart jack, and ruff the spades good. Declarer can then draw trumps ending in dummy and run the spades.


The best defense is to play back a club at trick three. If declarer rises with the ace and plays a second spade, you win the spade ace and lead the diamond seven (the count-card from your remaining four cards) to partner’s queen. You hope that this will encourage West to shift back to clubs now. Declarer can ruff the club in dummy, but his late entry to all the spades has gone, and his trump spots are not good enough to play a crossruff. West’s heart 10 comes into its own.


At the table, when East found the club shift, declarer did exceedingly well to take the “practice” club finesse, after which life was easy for him. Plus 420 was worth most of the matchpoints for South.

ANSWER: It is tempting to jump to three clubs now, but this hand is really not worth driving to game. Of the two plausible alternatives, the simpler one is to bid two no-trump, suggesting a balanced 17-19 or so. The second choice is to bid two clubs, planning to convert a preference bid of two hearts to two no-trump to show these values. You might play two clubs, I suppose — but who is to say that would be wrong?


South Holds:

Q 4
A Q 9 6 5
A 6
A Q 4 2


South West North East
1 Pass 1 NT 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