Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Dealer: South

Vul: N/S


A 7 5 2

6 2

7 3

10 9 6 3 2


K Q J 6

10 9 4

Q 8 6

Q 7 4



Q J 8 5 3

J 10 5 4 2

8 5


10 9 8 4

A K 7

A K 9



South West North East
2 NT Pass 3 NT All Pass

Opening Lead: K

“There’s no time for a man to recover his hair that grows bald by nature.”

— William Shakespeare

Against today’s contract of three no-trump, reached after North had refused to use Stayman over his partner’s opening bid, West led the spade king. Now South’s problem was to set up a late route into dummy after the only obvious entry had been attacked at trick one and before the clubs were unblocked.

If South wins with the spade ace, then sets up the clubs, West can foil any attempt to establish an entry to dummy. He does this by playing a high spade if South leads his low spot toward the seven, or by following with a low spade should declarer lead a high spade from his hand, once the position in that suit has been established.

To conserve the late entry to the board until clubs were untangled, South withheld the spade ace at trick one, while making the vital unblock of the spade eight from his hand. And on the spade-queen continuation declarer ducked again, while unblocking his nine.

West now had no winning move. If he switched to a red suit, South would win, and the spade ace would still be in place as an entry after the clubs were established. (South would play clubs from the top and give West his queen.) However, had West continued with the spade jack at trick three, only now would the ace be played and the 10 unblocked from hand, leaving the seven as the sure entry to the board to reach dummy’s clubs.


South Holds:

Q J 8 5 3
J 10 5 4 2
8 5


South West North East
    1 Pass
1 Pass 1 Pass
ANSWER: Things have gone from bad to worse! Your decision to respond to one club was partly for tactical reasons, maybe to keep the opponents out. However, now you have to decide if you want to leave partner in a 4-1 fit. I say no. Best is to rebid one no-trump and hope partner lets you off the hook somehow.


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


John DumasDecember 21st, 2010 at 3:03 pm

This comment is on a hand in THE OREGONIAN Dec 21, 2010. “We know too much…” TS Eliot.

A similar line would be to take the spade ace, run clubs (E pitching hearts and W pitching spades), cash the heart ace (stripping E), cash the king and ace of diamonds. If W discards the diamond queen, lead the diamond nine. E takes with the jack, setting up the diamond ten as the 12th trick. If W keeps the diamond queen, cash the spade king (stripping W), then lead the diamond nine. W takes per force with the queen and has to lead a heart into the ten-ace.

bobbywolffDecember 22nd, 2010 at 7:16 am

Hi John,

Believe it or not, I am not privy to that Oregonian hand in which you speak. Since, as I am sure you know, the hands used at the Aces blog site are two weeks delayed so I won’t be reminded of the key hand for another two weeks.

When I can read it (these hands were written at least 4 months ago) I’ll make a point to check out your alternate line.

Thanks for writing and wishing you a very happy holiday season.