Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Wednesday, January 12th, 2011

Dealer: South

Vul: Both


K J 8 6

10 5 2

A 9 3

A Q 6


10 7

K 4 3

Q J 10 4

K J 10 5



J 9 7 6

8 7 6 2

9 8 3 2


A Q 9 5 3 2

A Q 8

K 5

7 4


South West North East
1 Pass 2 NT* Pass
3 Pass 4 Pass
4 NT Pass 5 ** Pass
5 NT Pass 6 All Pass

* Forcing spade raise


** Three aces, counting the trump king as an ace

Opening Lead: Queen

“Metaphysics is the finding of bad reasons for what we believe upon instinct; but to find these reasons is no less an instinct.”

— Francis H. Bradley

Look at just the North and South cards to plan the play in your somewhat optimistic contract of six spades on the lead of the diamond queen.


It may appear that you need both the club and heart finesses to succeed, but in fact there are two completely different approaches that you might follow to allow you to make the contract. One line needs a favorable lie of the hearts, the other a favorable lie of the clubs. All you have to do is decide which line is better.


After winning the diamond lead, then stripping off the diamonds while drawing trumps, you might play a heart to the queen and two further rounds of hearts. If East must win the third heart (having started either with five hearts to the king or both the heart king and jack), he will be endplayed to lead clubs. If not, you fall back on the club finesse. That line is somewhat better than a one-third chance.


In fact, though, if the club finesse is working, you can guarantee the contract by taking it first. Let us again strip off the diamonds while drawing trumps, ending in hand. But then we finesse clubs successfully and ruff out the suit, go to dummy with a third round of trumps, and lead a heart, planning to cover East’s card. West can win the trick cheaply, but will then be endplayed, forced to return a heart into the tenace or give a ruff-sluff.


South Holds:

A Q 9 5 3 2
A Q 8
K 5
7 4


South West North East
ANSWER: There is nothing intrinsically wrong with doubling, planning to bid spades later, but the modern tendency with a strong one-suited hand like this is to overcall one spade, then bid again. Incidentally, this is particularly true when you do not hold the spade suit, for fear that you will be pre-empted out of bidding your suit at a convenient level. So bid one spade here.


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