Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, July 8, 2010

Dealer: South

Vul: E/W

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


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

Opening Lead: 4

“Therefore, acknowledge your error and be attentive.”

— Christopher Marlowe

At the Dyspeptics Club, whenever South becomes declarer, his partner — a man of almost legendary impatience and acerbity — puts down his dummy and ostentatiously focuses on a spot in the middle distance. His explanation is that he does not want to watch his partner butcher the hand, but somehow he always has a biting comment ready for the post-mortem.


Today’s deal was no exception. South played three no-trump by winning the opening diamond lead cheaply in his hand and playing two rounds of hearts to East. That player continued the attack on diamonds, and declarer finessed again, letting West win and clear the suit. Declarer now realized that leading a low spade from hand to dummy’s jack could not win. His only chance of success was to find the spade queen doubleton. But his luck was not in; he emerged with only six tricks.


Before South could claim that he was unlucky, North inquired whether a 100 percent chance was not good enough for him. Can you see what he meant?


South should have won the first trick with the diamond ace, sacrificing a potential diamond trick to ensure that he had an entry to dummy in diamonds. Now he simply wins the heart king and leads another heart. By leading his low diamond to dummy’s 10 at his next opportunity, he can be assured of two diamond tricks, four hearts, and his three black-suit winners.

ANSWER: Although you are not overburdened with aces and kings, you have extra shape and trumps that will allow you to compete to three hearts. Any time you have a chunky five-card suit and six points, you are better off than you might be. Since your partner’s double committed you to the two-level, you should feel comfortable in competing one level further.


South Holds:

J 7 2
Q J 10 8 6
Q 10 5
10 2


South West North East
  2 Dbl. Pass
2 Pass Pass 3


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 WarheitJuly 23rd, 2010 at 3:53 am

I see what he means by 100%: he means 89%! All right, here are the details: 4 heart tricks are needed, unless the spade queen is singleton or doubleton. Hearts must thus be 3-3, 4-2, 5-1 with a singleton 9 or 6-0 with west having the 6. That’s approximately 87% plus an additional approximate 2% for the spade queen dropping quickly. That’s still a whole lot better than the approximately 19% line actually adopted, not to mention the fact that under no circumstance can the adopted line succeed while the suggested line fails.

Bobby WolffJuly 23rd, 2010 at 1:51 pm

Hi David,

With you around I need to purchase the nine of hearts to give to North.

Your new nickname will be the Gremlin enabler (GE), since without your intrusion the stealthy gremlins will have nothing in which to feast.

Seriously though, you make better with all your comments. Please continue to police the premises and get everyone’s attention, especially the author.