Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, November 19, 2010

Dealer: West

Vul: None


A K 5 4

A 10 9 6 4

9 3

J 7


10 9 3

8 5


K Q 10 6 3 2



K Q J 3 2

J 8 7 6 4 2



Q J 8 6 2


K 10 5

A 9 8 4


South West North East
  1 Dbl. 1
4 All Pass    

Opening Lead: 8

“Among other evils which being unarmed brings you, it causes you to be despised.”

— Niccolo Macchiavelli

Today’s deal, from a tournament in England, saw declarer playing well against challenging defense.

South’s four-spade bid was slightly aggressive, but he was hoping to find four-card trump support opposite, plus club shortage. Quite often you do not need many more than half the points in the deck to have some play for 10 tricks, especially when you have a nine-card fit and when the bidding has given you some clues you can use in the play.

West led the heart eight, won with dummy’s ace. This was revealing, since it marked East with all the missing heart honors, thus placing the diamond ace with West. So at trick two declarer ran the diamond nine to West’s queen.

West now found the best switch to a trump, and declarer drew three rounds ending in the dummy. He then played a diamond to his 10 and West’s ace. West got off play with a heart, ruffed by declarer, who cashed his diamond king to make sure he had extracted all of West’s exit cards. In the five-card ending, a low club toward the jack finished West off. He had to go in with the queen and was left with nothing but clubs. He was forced to exit with the club king, to South’s ace. Now, since South had the 9-8 of clubs left, he could take a marked ruffing finesse against West’s 10 to set up his 10th winner for himself.


South Holds:

Q J 8 6 2
K 10 5
A 9 8 4


South West North East
  1 1 Pass
1 Pass 2 Pass
ANSWER: A raise to three diamonds (sometimes described as a courtesy raise) will achieve two things. It will make it harder for the opponents to venture into your auction and will keep the bidding open in case all your partner needed to know about was your trump support. You would perhaps like to do more, but you have no convenient way to invite without going past the safety of three 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


Michael SteinDecember 4th, 2010 at 4:40 pm

Might West lead the 8 from KJ8, leaving East with Q532 and possibly, the Ace of diamonds?

bobbywolffDecember 5th, 2010 at 2:53 pm

Hi Michael,

Yes, it could happen, but my experience dictates that after a TO double by the opponents, a responder should not volunteer a weak 4 card major (Qxxx) since it is likely that the doubler also has 4 of that major. Another factor is that if LHO did have KJ8 he might (and probably should), on this bidding, lead the King so that partner will be able to read his lead more accurately, considering the probable holdings likely around the table.

Most adequate declarer’s play is somewhat based on probabilities, straight from the percentage table, but the remainder from a vast reservoir of personal experience.

The above is likely not directly teachable, but nevertheless is necessary to be learned.

Thanks for your comment.