Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Dealer: North

Vul: N/S


10 9 8 7 4


A J 8 6 5



A 6 5

8 6 5 2

K Q 3

A 8 5


K J 2


10 9 7 2

Q 7 6 4 3


Q 3

K J 10 9 4 3


K J 10 9


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

Opening Lead: K

“Successful and fortunate crime is called virtue.”

— Seneca

When this deal came up in the very first round-robin match of the Venice Cup, it gave Liz McGowan of the British team a chance to demonstrate her virtuosity. Having reached an ambitious four-heart contract, she avoided the trump lead, but had to plan the play on the lead of the diamond king.

Liz took the diamond king with the ace to lead a club at once. When her RHO followed small without a flicker, she decided that she was unlikely to have ducked the ace, so inserted the jack losing to the ace. She won the trump shift in dummy and ruffed a diamond, ruffed a club, ruffed a diamond (dropping the queen), and then drew trumps.

As she led out the last trump, she had two spades and two clubs in hand, with dummy holding three spades and the master diamond jack. But what four cards was East to keep? Since she had to keep two clubs, she had to come down to two spades, so she kept the king and jack. (Discarding the jack would have been tantamount to surrender.) Liz now led out a spade, giving the defenders a series of losing options. If East was left on lead after two rounds of spades, she would have to play a club, allowing declarer to finesse and take the last two tricks in hand. If West overtook her partner’s spade winner, she would have to concede the last two tricks to dummy or declarer.


South Holds:

10 9 8 7 4
A J 8 6 5


South West North East
1 1 NT Dbl. Pass
ANSWER: Your partner’s double is for penalties. Normally you would not consider removing the double, but here, with a shapely and very minimum opening bid, it would be reasonable to bid two diamonds. Admittedly it may be a big mistake, but this may not be the hand your partner was expecting you to hold when he doubled.


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