Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, June 3, 2010

Dealer: South

Vul: E/W

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


South West North East
1 NT* Pass 3 NT All Pass

Opening Lead: Jack

“Not all that tempts your wand’ring eyes

And heedless hearts is lawful prize;

Nor all that glisters, gold.”

— Thomas Gray

When today’s hand arose at the Dyspeptics Club’s rubber bridge table, South’s exploits had already put North in a bad mood. So as soon as South got his hands on another three no-trump contract, North was already mentally sharpening his ax.


West led the spade jack and declarer saw that the best chance of a ninth trick lay in the diamond suit. South ducked the lead, won the spade continuation, then led a diamond to the king.


East rose with the ace and returned a spade. South won, entered dummy in clubs, and played a second diamond to the 10 and West’s jack. Now the contract had to fail when diamonds proved to be 4-2.


As North bitterly commented, South only needed two tricks from the diamond suit — not three. So it was indeed right to duck the first spade lead, catering to a 5-2 break. If East held the diamond ace, he would have no spade to return when on lead with that card, and a heart switch would set up the ninth trick for declarer in that suit.


Equally, it was correct to play a diamond to the king and ace. But when East returned a spade, South knew that spades had split 4-3. The right play now is to lead out the diamond queen. Here, the jack falls doubleton, so the hand is over. But had it not done so, South could enter dummy in clubs next and play the third diamond toward the 10 to set up the game-going diamond trick.

ANSWER: Your partner’s double is not for penalties. It is a responsive double, primarily for takeout, but focusing on the minors rather than spades. This is because your partner would have bid spades if he had them. Accordingly, simply bid three clubs and await developments, if any.


South Holds:

A K 8
10 5
Q 10 6 5
K J 6 4


South West North East
Dbl. 2 Dbl. 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 2010. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact