Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, July 30, 2010

Dealer: South

Vul: All

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


South West North East
1 Pass 2 Pass
2 Pass 3 Pass
4 All Pass    

Opening Lead: 7

“Antoine Magnan, a French zoologist, in 1934 made some very careful studies of bumblebee flight and came to the conclusion that bumblebees cannot fly at all!”

— General Motors sign

All this week’s deals come from last year’s Summer Nationals. Phillip Cronier of France showed me this deal from his losing Spingold Knockout Teams match. How would you play four hearts on the lead of the spade seven (third-and-fifth best)? To enjoy this deal fully, cover up the East and West cards.


I think it is right to put up the jack, but at the table, declarer played the spade nine from dummy at the first trick, which was covered by the 10. He won the spade ace and led a diamond to the jack, which lost to the queen. East now emerged with the heart three. Plan the play.


Clearly the club finesse was onside, or else East would have shifted to a club. And either the spades were 6-1 or East had the spade queen, explaining why that suit wasn’t continued. Does that help?


Declarer was unwilling to take the heart finesse, since if the heart jack was covered by the queen, the last entry to dummy would vanish. At the table, declarer decided to play for the diamond ace to be onside and to hope there would be nothing too hostile in trumps.


He rose with the heart king, led a diamond up, and found both good news and bad. The diamond ace was indeed onside, but he now had two trump losers he could not avoid. Without the heart shift, declarer would have had no losing options.

ANSWER: Even if you play weak jumps in competition, this hand feels much more like a bid of one spade than two spades. With significant defense and a poor suit of your own, the weak jump would be misleading. And if partner repeats his clubs, you surely have a sensible alternative trump suit.


South Holds:

Q 8 7 6 3 2
A 10 5 2
10 7


South West North East
    1 1


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