Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, January 11th, 2011

Dealer: South

Vul: N-S


A J 4

10 8 5 4 3

A Q 5 4



10 8 7 2

J 7 6

9 3

10 7 6 5


Q 6 5

A Q 9 2

6 2

A J 4 3


K 9 3


K J 10 8 7

K Q 9 8


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

Opening Lead: two

“War does not determine who is right — only who is left.”

— Bertrand Russell

When declarer is playing three no-trump with eight sure tricks plus a possibly wide-open suit, he does best to try to go after that ninth trick early. The defense, on the other hand, does best to try to count declarer’s tricks as soon as possible to prevent any stealing.


On West’s spade lead, declarer played low from dummy and gobbled up East’s queen. With eight quick tricks and a ninth coming from clubs, declarer’s main concern was the danger in hearts.


To conceal his trick count, declarer crossed to dummy with a spade, not a diamond (fearing the opponents would give each other count), and innocently led a club from dummy. If East plays low, South has stolen a ninth trick. Even if East plays the ace, he has to be clever enough to switch to the heart ace and a low heart. Can East be that clever?


Yes! East knows South has nine minor-suit cards. (Few bid this way with 4-4 in the minors). The opening lead has marked South with three spades, so no more than a singleton heart. By counting South’s sure tricks, East can posit declarer with five diamonds and three spades, so he knows that declarer is going for his ninth trick when a club is led from dummy. In other words, South is out there stealing!


If East thinks this clearly, he will rise with the club ace and play the ace and a second heart, collecting four heart tricks and a club and leaving South shaking his head.


South Holds:

6 4 3 2
K Q 4
Q 9 8 6 5


South West North East
    1 Pass
2 3 4 4
ANSWER: Your partner’s second-round action is not a cue-bid. It suggests a red two-suiter, letting you judge whether to bid on in hearts over East’s call of four spades. With all your values in your partner’s second suit, you should certainly act now and bid five hearts. In auctions of this sort, opener should aim to help partner rather than look for slam.


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 2011. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact