Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Dealer: North

Vul: E/W

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


South West North East
    Pass 1 NT
2 All Pass    

Opening Lead:Q

“It is far safer to know too little than too much.”

— Samuel Butler

One mark of an expert is knowing when to duck and when to win a trick. Even if he has no definite plan in mind, it generally helps interfere with the opponents’ communications to duck tricks early when a loser cannot be avoided. However, this strategy is not always best.


Against two spades, West led the club queen. South routinely ducked and won the second round with dummy’s ace. He then played a spade to East’s 10 and his jack, then wished he had won the first club so that he would have had an exit card!


Let’s roll back the play. Suppose declarer wins the first club, plays a spade to the 10 and jack, then exits with a club. Best is for East to continue with a third club, which can be ruffed in hand. Now declarer plays ace and another heart. East wins and has a problem. All he can do is exit with the ace and another diamond, but South unblocks his king, wins the second diamond in dummy, and leads another spade, picking up East’s queen: two spades made.


Given the actual line, South was stuck in hand at trick three. He played the ace and another heart, but the defense was in control. East won and played a third club. Declarer ruffed and played a third heart, West winning with the queen and playing the diamond ten. Now, whatever South did, he could not reach dummy to pick up East’s spades — down one.

ANSWER: This is a rare position where you can double, suggesting that you are happy to defend, even though lacking trump tricks. You have already passed the transfer response to show five hearts, but limited your hand to 8 HCP. With a maximum, you would consult partner as to whether to defend or bid on.


South Holds:

7 3
J 7 5 3 2
Q 8 4
A 7 3


South West North East
    1 NT Pass
2 Pass 2 Pass
Pass 2 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


galApril 6th, 2010 at 10:58 am

I think South can recover. Instead of playing a third round of hearts he should play the diamond king which East must duck. And now declarer exits with a trump and will take another diamond trick.


Bobby WolffApril 6th, 2010 at 3:31 pm

Hi Gal,

Instead of the old saying, “Wherever there is a will, there is either a way or relatives” we need to add to that “an alternate bridge solution”. Yours, of course, works! Thanks for the enlightenment. You have tiptoed through the Tulips.