Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, August 9, 2010

Dealer: South

Vul: N/S


K 5 2

7 5 3

K 10 6 2

K 10 4


Q 9 7 6 4

K 9


J 9 7 6 5


10 8

A Q J 6 2

J 4

A Q 8 2


A J 3

10 8 4

A 9 8 7 5 3



South West North East
Pass Pass Pass 1
2 Dbl. 3 All Pass

Opening Lead: K

“The quarrel is a very pretty quarrel as it stands; we should only spoil it by trying to explain it.”

— Richard Sheridan

If you want to do well at pairs, there are two essential ingredients — skill and luck. This deal, from the Women’s Pairs at San Remo last summer, features current world champion Nevena Senior, formerly of Bulgaria, now part of the English ladies’ squad that took the world title in Beijing in 2008.

Against three diamonds West led the heart king and continued the suit when East encouraged. East won the trick, cashed a third heart, and switched to the spade 10. That ran to dummy’s king. Declarer now drew trumps, West discarding a club on the second round.

From the cards played so far, Nevena Senior thought it likely that West had 5-2-1-5 distribution, so she cashed the spade ace and played a club to dummy’s 10. East could win, but was endplayed. East had no spade to lead, a heart would give a ruff-sluff, and a club would give up a trick to North’s king.

Very nicely done, but can you see how the defenders might have done better? Had East not encouraged a heart continuation at trick one, West ought to have found a club shift. That would let the defenders take their four top winners, exit with a trump, then sit back and wait for their spade trick. One of the hardest things to do at the bridge table is give up on an apparently successful plan to change it for a better one.


South Holds:

9 7 4
7 6 4 2
K 5 3
Q 8 5


South West North East
Pass 1 Pass 2
Pass 3 Pass 3 NT
All Pass      
ANSWER: Clubs look like a more promising line of attack than spades. (Partner might have a reasonable club suit and have stayed silent, but not a spade suit.) However, I prefer a heart lead through dummy, the suit that declarer strongly rates to be short in. I’d lead the seven, though some partnerships prefer the six, second from a bad suit.


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


bruce karlsonAugust 23rd, 2010 at 11:37 am

Too many “comments” lately…but when I first looked at the deal, I thought West was going to ruff the heart J to return a club. East could make that easier by leading the Heart 2 at trick 3, but an expert West might know to trunmp the J with his worthless Q of trumps anyway.


Bobby WolffAugust 23rd, 2010 at 5:56 pm

Hi Bruce,

Some random thoughts:

1. While what you say makes sense and would work on today’s hand, what if we exchanged East’s queen of clubs for South’s nine of diamonds, allowing East to receive South’s 3 of clubs and 9 of diamonds and South to add East’s 4 of diamonds and Queen of clubs. Wouldn’t then the only effective defense against NS’s 3 diamond contract would be a non trumping of East’s 3d high heart, but then East cashing his ace of clubs and a 4th heart led by East, putting the queen of diamonds in West’s hand to good effect.

2. Also, with the hand the way it is, having West switch to a club at trick 2 and after it went queen low then two more hearts cashed and a diamond switched to for fear of the nine of spades being with South, then declarer drawing trumps ending in dummy, leading the king of clubs from dummy transfering the top club to West and then leading out all trumps and squeezing West between the Jack of clubs and the Queen of Spades. For name lovers this vice is aptly named a “transfer squeeze”. A good bridge writer (assuming this to be his theme would give South a singleton nine of clubs forcing East to have to play his queen, but then why didn’t West switch to his Jack of Clubs instead therefore keeping defensive control of the hand?

The beat goes on which requires:

1. Unconditional love for our superior game.

2. Much attention to detail and at least some insight to the high-level game.


A. You, Bruce continuing to write in!! Too many comments?, INDEED, not enough comments would be closer to the truth..

Thanks for your continuing super loyalty!

bruce karlsonAugust 23rd, 2010 at 9:47 pm

Your kindness is much appreciated… not to mention the amazing analysis. Your point is well taken. Since West knows, she should “build a fence” around partner. She can visualize South’s distribution and knows that hearts are not going away on dummy’s spades.