Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, October 8, 2010

Dealer: East

Vul: E/W


A K 3

K Q 8 6 5


J 8 4 3



A J 4 3

J 10 8 6 2

K 10 5


Q J 9 8 6 4

9 7 2

Q 9 5



10 7 5


A K 4 3

A Q 9 7 2


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

Opening Lead: J

“How comes it to pass, then, that we appear such cowards in reasoning, and are so afraid to stand the test of ridicule?”

— Earl of Shaftesbury

All this week’s deals come from last year’s world championships in Brazil. Today’s deal is from a Seniors’ match between USA and Poland and features Poland missing an opportunity.

Where Poland sat North-South, the contract of three no-trump was played by North (Jacek Romanski). After Mark Lair (East) led a top spade, the Polish declarer was not under pressure. Since East had not bid spades at either of his first two turns, North was confident that West held the heart ace and club king. So declarer won the first trick in his hand, led a club to dummy’s ace, and played the heart 10 to his king. Declarer continued with the club jack and another club, establishing nine tricks: two spades, one heart, two diamonds and four clubs.

Against Mike Passell, West found the apparently killing lead of a diamond. Declarer took the trick with the king and led his singleton heart. When West ducked, declarer won with dummy’s king, then played a club to his queen. West took the trick and led another diamond, but Passell had the same nine tricks as Romanski.

Did you notice West’s error? He needed to play diamonds three times: twice to knock out declarer’s ace-king and once to cash his established winners. And he had three chances: the lead at trick one and when in with his two entries — the heart ace and club king. At trick two, he should have hopped up with his heart ace to lead another diamond. This would have defeated the contract.


South Holds:

A K 3
K Q 8 6 5
J 8 4 3


South West North East
    1 Pass
1 2 Pass Pass
ANSWER: In this seat, double would simply be for takeout. It’s the most flexible action since you will elicit three-card support from your partner, or find out more about your partner’s minor-suit pattern. It seems premature for you to commit the hand either to clubs or to no-trump.


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


Steven P HaverOctober 22nd, 2010 at 6:34 pm

I’ve noticed that Alder’s analysis, as printed in LVRJ, is sometimes “sloppy”. Today, declarer needs to go to dummy, trick 4, and finesse in trumps.

Picking up Qx/Qxx for no losers, retaining some chances against Qxxxx onside (guess RHO’s shape, cash side-suit winners, T11 throwin). At least saving an undertrick, and preserving remote make chances, against stiff Q onside.

Bobby WolffOctober 23rd, 2010 at 12:36 pm

Hi Steven,

Just returned home from a local Las Vegas sectional and have not had time nor the facility to read Alder’s column.

Please forgive my non answer, but I am certain you will understand.

Thanks for writing and I suspect there will be others reading your comment who may be qualified to get into some kind of cross discussion.

Denis KristandaOctober 23rd, 2010 at 11:54 pm

I fully agree with Mr Wolff.

West’s error is typical error among medium to advanced bridge player.

For newbie, concept of ducking is foreign.

But when a bridge player is getting better and better, she/he will learn that ducking in defending NT contract could produce better result. However the exact reason sometimes is not really obvious, unless they have good partner or coach.

Because of this, ducking in defending NT contract in my observation become like a blind ‘habit’ or even ‘show-off’ that you are not newbie.

I have personally steal few NT games on this (do this on your own risk, I must warn!! :-)) – Typically, having a weak suit (e.g: tripleton meets Kx) on blind bidding (1NT – 3NT type of thing – where defender cannot pre-visualize the card). With there is no better alternative (still need additional trick), I play small to King in early play (trick 2 or 3) and my King is usually ducked regardless of where the Ace is – and as added bonus usually that suit will never ever be touched by defender after all finish you can smirk happily when the defender do their furious post mortem :-)… make sure your defender is not newbie, somehow it did not work against them, but it will work with (supposed to be) better player….