Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, July 22, 2010

Dealer: South

Vul: All

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


South West North East
1 Pass 3 Pass
6 All Pass    

Opening Lead: 10

“True wit is Nature to advantage dressed,

What oft was thought, but ne’er so well expressed.”

— Alexander Pope

Today’s deal comes in the form of a problem. South is in six spades, West leads the trump 10, and East will follow suit to the first trump. Clearly this contract will never go down if the club finesse succeeds. But how can declarer make this contract regardless of the position of the club king?


The answer is that on careful play the contract will always come home, provided West has the diamond ace in addition to the club king.


South wins the trump in hand and plays the diamond six out of his hand at once. If West rises with the ace, the club jack will later be discarded on dummy’s diamond king. So West ducks his ace, and the diamond king wins the trick. Declarer returns to hand in trumps and now throws two low diamonds away on the top hearts. He ruffs the third heart in dummy and exits in diamonds to endplay West. If East holds the diamond ace, the club finesse will be needed.


Note that it would do declarer no good to play a diamond toward the queen at an early stage of the hand. Either West has the diamond ace — in which case he can exit with a diamond safely — or East has the diamond ace. In the latter case East will be able to obtain the lead later on in the hand and exit with a club to force declarer to take the finesse.

ANSWER: When your partner failed to compete to two hearts over two diamonds, he suggested a minimum hand. Although there seem to be a lot of high cards in the deck, the opponents obviously have a decent spade fit, and hearts do not rate to be splitting for your side. Pass, and take your medicine.


South Holds:

10 9
J 9 7 3
A J 9 5
K 10 8


South West North East
  1 Dbl. Pass
1 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


Denis KristandaAugust 6th, 2010 at 1:59 am

Mr Wolff,

While I completely agree with the answer for South to Pass on that sequence (see “Bid with The Aces” section), I would believe that South’s 1H bid was not really appropriate.

With 0-5 high card – yes, but with 9HCP the least South can bid is 2H (partner can still be 15points and game is still possible). What do you think ?


Bobby WolffAugust 6th, 2010 at 2:56 pm

Hi Denis,

I agree with you (close to 100%) and appreciate your beef and letting me, and the bridge blogging public, know about it.

To a real bridge aficionado, and your attitude qualifies, it is now much easier for all of us to see what can happen when we fail to live up to the partnership’s bidding responsibilities.

The subject hand has two four card suits, the AJ9 of diamonds which can make a difference, the 109 of spades, the J9 of hearts as well as the K108 of clubs — any which of those spot cards could help win an extra trick.

Your comment has even made me waffle about my wimpy pass to 2 spades and suggest a risky 2NT (natural) over the opponents spade competition. Being a tough and competitive opponent is necessary to winning and our failure (mainly not bidding 2 hearts the first time) may result in our not living up to who we want to be.

Thanks for calling attention to our gaffe.