Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, December 27, 2010

Dealer: North

Vul: N/S


9 4

J 4 2

10 3

K J 10 7 5 3



Q 10 9 8 6

8 6 4

A 9 8 6


7 6 3 2

K 7 3

A Q J 7

Q 2


A K J 10 8 5

A 5

K 9 5 2



South West North East
    Pass 1
Dbl. 1 2 Dbl.*
3 Pass 4 All Pass
*Showing three hearts

Opening Lead: 4

“An idealist believes the short run doesn’t count. A cynic believes the long run doesn’t matter. A realist believes that what is done or left undone in the short run determines the long run.”

— Sidney Justin Harris

Today’s deal is all about counting. See if you can match declarer’s effort from the finals of a recent U.S. trials.

I thought Roger Bates handled his delicate four-spade contract very carefully, finding a fine line of play. His partner, Ralph Katz, thought the three-spade call was forcing — as would I — so maybe the South hand is not worth more than a bid of two spades at the second turn after the initial double.

The net result was that Bates declared a game that would have been impossible to make on a heart lead. However, on a diamond lead and heart shift (a trump switch would have worked better, but one can understand East’s play), Bates was still in with a chance.

He went up with the heart ace and played a club. West took his ace and tried two more rounds of hearts. Bates ruffed, led the diamond king, ruffed a diamond, then cashed the club king and saw the queen drop from East. If this was a true card, East was known to have started with three hearts, four diamonds, apparently only two clubs, and thus must have four spades. Accordingly, a single finesse in spades would not bring the suit home safely. The only legitimate chance was to find West with the singleton spade queen.

Accordingly, Bates played a trump to the ace and was rewarded when West’s queen fell — four spades bid and made.


South Holds:

Q 8 5 2
J 9 4
7 5 2
A 9 4


South West North East
    1 Pass
1 Dbl. 2 2
3 3 All Pass  
ANSWER: A trump lead looks very dangerous here if partner has a doubleton honor. Since everything else looks unattractive, starting with the club ace might at least give you an idea of what switch, if any, will be most effective.


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