Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Dealer: South

Vul: None


10 6 3

A Q 3

K 8 6 5

8 6 2


A K 5 4

K 9 7

10 2

J 9 7 5


Q J 2

8 6 5 4

J 9 7 4 3



9 8 7

J 10 2


A K Q 10 3


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

Opening Lead: A

“I would far rather feel remorse than know how to define it.”

— Thomas a Kempis

My thanks go to Jean-Paul Meyer, editor of France’s Le Bridgeur, for the original theme of today’s deal. Assume you are facing top-notch defenders.

Against the no-trump game West led the spade ace. When East contributed the queen, showing the jack, West underled his king at trick two. Now, with the defenders’ spades fluid, the defense was able to cash four tricks in the suit. The key question, then, is what does declarer throw from his hand and from dummy on the fourth spade? There is no great problem with the choice from dummy — a club or diamond fits the bill. But South’s discard is trickier.

It looks natural to pitch a heart from hand, but in fact declarer must discard a club. This is not a case of foreknowledge of the unwelcome split, but relates to the diamond blockage. This determines that the heart king must be with West for the contract to make.

The point is that a heart switch by West at trick five means that the heart finesse will have to be taken at once. Even if the clubs play for five tricks, declarer cannot afford to rise with the heart ace since it would cut him off from the diamond king.

Therefore, if the heart king must be onside, no more than three club tricks are required. But if you discard your low heart, the devastating return of the heart king by West would mean that declarer would again be reliant on the club jack dropping in three rounds.


South Holds:

10 6 3
A Q 3
K 8 6 5
8 6 2


South West North East
    1 1
2 2 2 Pass
ANSWER: Your simple raise in diamonds suggested 6-10 points, and your partner’s advance with two spades suggested extra shape and high cards. With hearts well stopped, the question is whether to drive to three no-trump or to make a simple call of two no-trump to get your values across nicely. I’m torn here, but will opt for two no-trump for fear that the defenders might lead clubs if I insist on three no-trump at once.


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