Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, June 4, 2010

Dealer: South

Vul: All

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


South West North East
1 Pass 1 Pass
2 NT Pass 6 NT All Pass

Opening Lead: Jack

“The policeman buys shoes slow and careful; the teamster buys gloves slow and careful; they take care of their feet and hands; they live on their feet and hands.”

— Carl Sandburg

South is in six no-trump and West leads the heart jack. Can declarer guarantee his contract?


Apparently yes; but if South wins the lead and runs the diamond jack, he will go down when East has all five outstanding diamonds and the club finesse is wrong.


The only danger in the hand appears to be a terrible split in diamonds. If West has the length, there should still be no problem, so it is only if East has all five diamonds that declarer must take care. Having spotted that, the trap is to relax. It looks easy to win the opening lead with the heart queen and play a diamond to the jack. The problem is that when this holds, declarer must cross to the board with a spade to lead a second diamond. However, now East hops up with his queen and immediately dislodges the second spade entry, leaving the diamonds blocked and forcing declarer to fall back on the losing club finesse.


Once declarer has spotted this defense, he can devise a counter. He should win the opening in hand, cross to a spade, and play a low diamond to his jack. Then he can cross back to dummy with a spade and lead another low diamond. East can rise with the queen and play a heart, but declarer can take this in hand, unblock the diamonds, and now nothing can prevent him from making four diamond tricks and his contract.

ANSWER: In this sequence I urge all players — even the gadget-hungry — to play a bid of one no-trump as natural and strong. As a passed hand, you may, if you like, play the bid as weak and two-suited, but as an unpassed hand, you need a way to show strength. Since you already have double and two no-trump for the two-suiters, you do not need a third call.


South Holds:

Q 5 3
A K 8 6 4
7 6 3


South West North East
  1 Pass 1


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