Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Dealer: North

Vul: All


K 10 9 3

Q 9 7 2

Q 10 3

A 4


4 2

A 8 6

J 7 6

Q J 10 5 2


6 5

K 10 4

K 8 5 4 2

9 7 6


A Q J 8 7

J 5 3

A 9

K 8 3


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

Opening Lead: Q

“So they speak,

Darkened by ignorance; and so they fall —

Tossed to and fro with projects, tricked, and bound

In net of black delusion.”

— The Bhagavad-Gita

When it becomes clear to a defender that the cards lie well for declarer, it may be right to take a trick with an unnecessarily high card to tempt declarer to abandon a winning strategy.

That was the policy adopted — with devastating effect — by Malcolm Harris (East), defending against the normal contract of four spades. Before you condemn declarer too quickly, consider how you would have played the deal.

East led the club queen, and South could see four possible losers — three hearts and a diamond. Declarer won with dummy’s ace, drew trumps in two rounds, then eliminated clubs by cashing the king and ruffing the last club in dummy.

Next came the heart two toward the closed hand, to the four, jack and ace. West returned the heart eight to dummy’s nine — and the king from Harris. He had appreciated that if South held both the queen and ace of diamonds as was almost guaranteed by the auction, then if he captured the heart nine with the 10 to return a diamond, declarer would have no alternative but to run this to dummy’s queen — successfully.

When East won the second heart with the king, South would almost certainly place West with the A-10-8-6 of hearts. If so, South could finesse dummy’s seven, then cash the queen, providing a diamond discard and an overtrick. Deceived, declarer rose with the diamond ace and led a heart to the seven and 10, and Harris cashed his diamond king for down one.


South Holds:

A Q J 8 7
J 5 3
A 9
K 8 3


South West North East
ANSWER: In the early days of bridge, overcalls used to show weak hands and takeout doubles promised opening bids, which could be off-shape. These days, the upper range even for a one-level overcall is about a 16-count. So South can bid a comfortable one spade, perhaps planning to come in again if the opponents settle in diamonds. To double, then bid spades, South would need an extra queen.


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