Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Dealer: South

Vul: None


10 5 3

9 8 6 5

A K J 6 4



J 8 4 2

J 4 2

10 2

J 8 5 2


A K 6

A 10 7 3

Q 8 3

9 7 6


Q 9 7


9 7 5

A K Q 10 4


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

Opening Lead: 2

“It seemed to be but chance, yet who shall say

That ’twas not part of Nature’s own sweet way…”

— John Kendrick Bangs

Sally Brock, a member of the current English World Teams Champions, provided me with a good problem from the qualifying rounds of the National Women’s Teams. Cover up the South and West hands. When West led the spade two against three no-trump, how would you (East) plan the defense?

It seemed to Brock that because of her guarded diamond queen, there was no hurry to do anything committal. If partner held queen-fourth in spades, she would still do so after East won her diamond queen. Brock considered what might be best if West had jack-fourth of spades instead. One possibility would be to win the spade ace and return the six, but if South were to guess right, that would surely be the end of the defensive prospects.

Brock decided that her best extra chance was to play partner for a three-card heart suit, so at trick two she switched to the heart three, won by declarer’s king as West played the four. Declarer took a diamond finesse and that let Brock win her queen and cash the heart ace. If this had dropped her partner’s jack, Brock would have switched to a low spade, hoping that declarer would still get the suit wrong.

However, when West followed low on the heart, Brock was confident her partner held the jack (or she would have discouraged at trick two).

Since one down would be sufficient at teams scoring, Brock played the spade ace now, and West intelligently confirmed the spade position by dropping the jack, making the heart play a sure thing.


South Holds:

10 5 3
9 8 6 5
A K J 6 4


South West North East
    1 1
ANSWER: A call of two diamonds would overstate your hand by a queen or so, a response of one no-trump without a heart stop looks extremely distorted, and a negative double promises four spades. What does that leave? You can only pass and hope to get a second shot, or else defend one heart — and that will happen only if partner is minimum with heart length. As a passed hand, you might risk a bid of two diamonds.


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