Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Saturday, January 15th, 2011

Dealer: South

Vul: Both


J 9 4 2

K 8 7 5 4

8 7 5




J 3

A J 9 4 3

A J 8 7 6


Q 5

Q 10 6

Q 6 2

Q 10 9 3 2


A K 10 8 6 3

A 9 2

K 10

K 5


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

* Pre-emptive

Opening Lead: seven

“A cruel crafty Crocodile …

Doth weep full sore, and sheddeth tender tears.”

— Edmund Spenser

David Greenwood’s international career dates back to 1980, when he played for England in the Camrose Trophy, the home countries’ internationals. In today’s deal, from the 2008 Camrose, he was playing for Northern Ireland, where he has now lived for many years. His opponents were from England.


South, Neil Rosen for England, ended in four spades after North had made a pre-emptive raise of spades. See if you can spot declarer’s best play for his contract, and the defenders’ riposte.


West made the safe lead of his singleton trump, which Rosen won in hand with the ace. He drew the last trump with his king, then shifted to the heart suit, seeking to establish it for diamond discards in hand.


He led a heart to dummy’s king, drawing the three and six, then a small heart back. This line would have succeeded whenever West had the doubleton heart queen, since South could have established hearts without letting East on play.


Had Greenwood, East, followed with the 10 on the second round of hearts, declarer would have ducked, knowing that if West held the jack or queen — or both — he would be forced to overtake, and West could not attack the minors profitably from that side of the table. But instead of the 10, Greenwood played the queen — the crocodile coup — to swallow his partner’s jack. Declarer took his ace, then led his third heart, hoping that it was West who held the 10. It wasn’t to be. East won, and the diamond return sank the contract.


South Holds:

Q 5
Q 10 6
Q 6 2
Q 10 9 3 2


South West North East
1 1 1 NT
Pass 2 Dbl. Pass
ANSWER: Any double of a suit contract at a low level facing a passed partner is always for takeout. Here, North rates to have a singleton diamond and tolerance or better for both unbid suits. Be happy to introduce your clubs, the question being whether you should bid again if the opponents compete to three diamonds.


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


bruce karlsonJanuary 29th, 2011 at 4:59 pm

I would take trick 1 in hand lead a trump to the board and lead an innocent looking low heart. Unless East must cover, the odds strongly favor following low. Obviously I cover East’s card and the game is made. Insofar as the location of the Heart J is not known, low might seem right to any East. I imagine an expert would smell the rat and play the 10 of Hearts, foiling my plan. True??

bobbywolffJanuary 29th, 2011 at 6:08 pm

Hi Bruce,

Your feeling and therefore assessment of this deceptive avoidance play seems somewhat right-on.

However, truth demands some judgment and my first comment to your topical question, is that all Easts, experienced or not, are not necessarily created equal.

Strangely it may have little to do with the exact expertise of that particular East, but rather his general awareness and special attention to the defense of that exact hand.

Obviously it is legal and ethical to not call attention to the acuteness of East’s play, however actions such as speeding up ones declarer play or in other ways trying to physically distract East are no-no’s although almost impossible to discipline, when you either decide to first go to dummy (perhaps East played the queen of spades at trick one) by then leading a spade to the jack, or you do as did the declarer in the column, first lead a heart to dummy and then one back to hand.

The above is for the actual declarer to decide on which tactic is more likely to catch East asleep at the switch and not rise with (on the second heart) the queen.

These types of puzzles, while below the dignity of what our wonderful game usually represents, are nevertheless important in achieving winning results.

I wish you luck in running into a series of Easts whose minds are not up to the task at hand. Also remember that once in a while, declarer’s holding is Jxx instead of Axx.

Alex AlonJanuary 31st, 2011 at 7:55 am

Hello Mr. Wolf

My question is about the bidding example that follows the hand. It is a sure thing that p double is for take out, but i would consider very strongly to bid 2 spades instead of 3 clubs, nothing wrong in playing a 7 cards trump from time to time and the 2 level is easier than 3, and i do have and honor in trumps.

What are your thoughts about this please?

Alex Alon


bobbywolffJanuary 31st, 2011 at 1:50 pm

Hi Alex,

At Matchpoints I will agree with you because of the higher trick score which spades might represent.

However for rubber bridge or IMPs I will recommend 3 clubs, which because of your surprisingly good hand and 5th club might even offer a chance for game if partner holds:





Let’s hope that over a club bid by you that he might see fit to raise immediately allowing the iffy club game to come home, especially if the opponents heart suit is frozen (neither opponent can lead them effectively), e.g. Kxx(x) in the opener’s hand.

Thank you for your worthwhile and provocative comment.