Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Dealer: South

Vul: None

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


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

Opening Lead: Queen

“A little learning is a dang’rous thing;

Drink deep or taste not the Pierian spring.”

— Alexander Pope

Bridge can be an exasperating game for the less experienced. Just when they finally think they have mastered something, they have to unlearn it.


Today, in a team contest, both Norths exercised good judgment to reach the no-trump game rather than insisting on spades. Although it is a slight overbid, three no-trump is surely much more likely to make than four spades.


West led the heart queen, in their methods asking partner to encourage if holding an honor. (The king would have requested an unblock of an honor or a count-signal.) Declarer had obviously heard about the Bath coup, for he ducked, thus preventing West from continuing the suit without giving him an extra trick. However, it was not difficult for West to find a diamond switch. Declarer ducked two rounds of this suit before winning the ace and running his spades, but East had the club ace and the long diamond to send the contract down one.


The point of a Bath coup is not only to prevent the defenders from continuing with the suit led, but also to force them to switch to another suit to declarer’s advantage. Here the last thing declarer wanted was a diamond switch.


In the other room South received the same lead, but had no hesitation in winning the first heart, hoping for the suit to split 4-4 or for West to hold the club ace. He could no longer be prevented from making nine tricks: five spades, two clubs and two aces.

ANSWER: The options here are to bid three no-trump or to gamble on a pass, hoping your aces will stand up, and that on trump leads declarer will not have that many tricks. With a fifth club I’d be less inclined to defend and be more optimistic about my chances of quick tricks at no-trump. Here I’d guess to pass. We do, after all, have the balance of high cards and some trump control.


South Holds:

10 8 4
A J 6
A 9 4
K J 9 4


South West North East
1 1 Dbl. 3
Pass Pass 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


David WarheitJune 29th, 2010 at 5:04 pm

Don’t forget to play the spade suit properly–lead the eight to the ace and then, if east drops the nine, unblock the ten on the king.

Bobby WolffJune 30th, 2010 at 6:23 pm

Hi David,

It’s good to hear from you, especially when you bring tidings of great advice.

It is getting so you have become a cop on our beat. I would not feel safe at home without your presence.

Thank you