Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, April 22, 2010

Dealer: South

Vul: Both

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


South West North East
3 3 5 All Pass

Opening Lead: King

“A fool … is a man who never tried an experiment in his life.”

— Erasmus Darwin

Bridge literature is full of exotically named coups. My favorite has always been “the coup without a name.” (Does this mean it DOES have a name?) Nowadays it is known simply as the Scissors Coup.


But today’s deal features the coup en passant, which is a way to negotiate a finesse in trumps, despite the fact that the hand you lead from has no trumps left. Does that sound impossible? Read on….


Consider the play in today’s five diamonds. South wins the opening heart lead in dummy and leads a diamond for the winning finesse. A club back to dummy lets declarer take a second diamond finesse, and the bad split shows up. Having to lose a heart and a spade, declarer has got to pick up the trump king to make his contract. He therefore must shorten his trumps for a possible endplay.


He should lead another club to dummy and ruff a third round of clubs. Next he leads a spade, and West must put up the ace. (If he does not, dummy’s good club will be cashed and South will shed his losing heart.)

West takes his heart trick and only helps declarer if he leads a third round. The best he can do is exit with a spade. South wins the trick in dummy and leads the third heart, which he ruffs. He gets back to dummy with the remaining spade at trick 11, and the lead from dummy at trick 12 picks up the guarded trump king.

ANSWER: Your partner’s two-spade call shows a good hand (since he is bidding on over a weak bid from you) and asks about your suitability for no-trump. He is likely to have two or three spades and 16-18 points. With a partial spade stop and a nonminimum, I would simply gamble on three no-trump now.


South Holds:

J 7 4
8 7
A Q J 10 6 5
8 3


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