Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, December 9, 2010

Dealer: North

Vul: All


A 6 5

K 6 5

A J 10

Q J 8 7


Q 9 4 3

10 9 7 4

K 8 2

6 3


J 10

A J 8 3

9 6 5 4 3

9 2


K 8 7 2

Q 2

Q 7

A K 10 5 4


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

Opening Lead: 6

“Imagination is that sacred power,

Imagination lofty and refined.”

— William Wordsworth

At first glance, today’s six-club contract at the Dyspeptics Club looked hopeless. An ace was missing and there was seemingly no way to avoid a spade loser. But if South had assumed that the diamond king needed to be onside, he could have turned disaster into triumph.

At the table declarer drew trumps and ran three diamond winners, pitching a heart from hand, then cunningly led a heart toward his bare queen. Alas for him, East worked out to rise with the ace, and there was still a spade to lose at the death.

Declarer would have had a much better chance of success as long as he had guessed correctly which opponent held the heart ace. Assume that it seems only fair to play East for that card since you intend to play West for the diamond king, and you are in business!

Take the trump lead in dummy, then lead a low heart at once. If East rises with the ace, there would be two discards for declarer’s losing spades — one on the heart king and one on the diamonds. So assume East ducks his ace, and South’s queen holds the trick. Trumps can be drawn and the diamond finesse taken. South’s losing heart now goes away on the third diamond, and after conceding one spade, declarer can ruff the fourth spade in dummy.

For the technically minded, South has performed a Morton’s Fork Coup, whereby East was forced either to lose his heart ace or present declarer with a vital discard by taking it prematurely.


South Holds:

K 8 7 2
Q 2
Q 7
A K 10 5 4


South West North East
    Pass 2
ANSWER: When the opponents open with a pre-empt, it often acts like a red rag to a bull. And when you hold a 14-count, it seems wrong to pass and perhaps let the opponents steal from you. But remember that the auction is not over yet, and that since your hand would barely have been worth a two-level overcall, how can it be worth a three-level overcall facing a passed partner? You must pass, like it or not.


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