Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, August 19, 2010

Dealer: South

Vul: All


10 9 8 3

9 7 3

J 10 7



K 2

Q 10 8 6 5

A Q 5

K 9 7



K J 2

6 4 2

10 8 6 5 3 2


A Q J 6 5 4

A 4

K 9 8 3



South West North East
1 2 2 3
4 All Pass    

Opening Lead: 6

“There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root.”

— Henry David Thoreau

The players at the Dyspeptics Club can act in unison only when combining to insult one member of the foursome. Occasionally it seems less important to have a good reason to criticize someone else, and more important to present a united front.

In today’s deal, however, the arguments presented against South’s line of play in four spades sounded reasonable. What do you think?

Playing four spades, South took East’s heart king with his ace, then played to dummy’s club ace and ran the club queen, discarding a heart. That allowed South to ruff the heart return and try to drop the spade king. When that failed, he was down to his last chance — the finesse against the diamond queen — but he came up empty for down one. Were his table-mates right to complain about his declarer play?

Yes, they were. The correct approach is to recognize that West has overcalled on a broken heart suit — the lead marks him with no better a suit than five to the Q-10. Since West has risked his life vulnerable, he must have the balance of high cards. Start by leading out the spade ace, trying to drop the spade king; you will be home without needing to take a chance if that line works.

If that attempt fails, take the club finesse and discard your heart on the club ace before going after diamonds for the possible overtrick.


South Holds:

10 9 8 3
9 7 3
J 10 7


South West North East
    1 Dbl.
ANSWER: The practical call here is to bid one no-trump, showing a balanced hand in the 7-10 range without a biddable four-card major. Bidding a major here does NOT promise five, but indicates that you would be happy to be raised with three — and that is far from the case here.


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