Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Dealer: South

Vul: N/S

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


South West North East
    4 All Pass

Opening Lead: Ace

“Soldiers are sworn to action; they must win

Some flaming, fatal climax with their lives.”

— Siegfried Sassoon

Do not be afraid to pre-empt to the limit with hands like South’s. You do better to get into the auction immediately with hands like this; it actually works out to be safer to steal the opponents’ bidding space immediately than to let them exchange information and then bid.


Not that four spades is an easy contract. Cover up the East-West hands and plan the play after West leads the diamond ace, followed by another diamond. How do you rate your chances?


Without the threat of the diamond ruff, you would be in reasonable shape, but now it looks as though you will go down if East has either major-suit ace. This is because he will be able to obtain the lead cheaply and give his partner a diamond ruff. However, you do have a cost-free extra chance if East has the heart ace and not the club ace. Give yourself a moment to think about what that might be.


Win the second diamond in dummy and play the club king. If East plays the ace, you ruff and are no worse off than before. However, if East plays low, you can discard your heart and East can no longer gain the lead to deliver the ruff since you have no hearts left.


This maneuver is called the Scissors Coup, the “unkindest cut of all,” at least from your opponents’ perspective.

ANSWER: Although there are many situations where it makes sense to play a change of suit as forcing, this is not one of them. Your partner had cue-bids or jumps available with a strong hand; this sequence sounds as if he has extra shape but no extra high-cards. It feels right to pass now while you are still at a sensible level, since diamonds is surely your best fit.


South Holds:

K J 8 4 2
Q 9 7
K J 7 3


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