Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Dealer: North

Vul: E/W

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


South West North East
    Pass Pass
4 All Pass    

Opening Lead: King

“Time drops in decay,

Like a candle burnt out,

And the mountains and woods

Have their day, have their day.”

— W.B. Yeats

South’s hand is too strong for an opening pre-emptive bid of four spades in first or second position. However, in third seat, after his partner had passed, South made that his choice, putting maximum pressure on West.


West led the heart king, taken by the singleton ace, and declarer could count nine tricks. One of the minor-suit queens would need to stand up for the 10th. East would have to hold the club king, or West the diamond king. It becomes an all-or-nothing situation if declarer tests diamonds before clubs. But if the club king is well placed, then the position of the diamond king becomes irrelevant because a losing diamond will depart on the club ace.


Two entries to dummy outside the club suit are needed — one to play away from the club ace toward the queen, and, if successful, a second to access the ace for a diamond discard. Those entries had to come from trumps, so at trick two, declarer led the spade eight, preparing to overtake with the nine to continue with a low club.


West rose with the ace perforce and returned a heart. South carefully ruffed high so that two trump entries to dummy remained intact. Now the spade three was led to dummy’s six, and the club four played. East rose with the king and returned a heart. Again declarer ruffed high, then cashed the club queen and overtook the spade four with the nine to cash the club ace for a diamond discard.

ANSWER: Although it is not without risk, your best way into this auction is to pass on the first round (as you did), then double for takeout at your second turn. Because this auction is live — West has not limited his hand — you show opening values and takeout of spades. You rate to have club length here, although this is not strictly guaranteed.


South Holds:

K Q J 3
J 8 6 5
J 9 8 3


South West North East
Pass 1 Pass 2


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