Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, January 18th, 2011

Dealer: South

Vul: Neither


6 5 2

9 3 2

A K 9 5 4 3



J 10 8 5 4

Q 10

A Q 7 6 4 3


A K Q 10 9 8 7

J 8 7 6 2



J 4 3

A K Q 7 6

K J 9 8 2


South West North East
1 3 3 3
4 Dbl. All Pass

Opening Lead: Ace

“Discovery consists of seeing what everybody has seen and thinking what nobody has thought.”

— Albert von Nagyrapolt

To celebrate the Bermuda congress taking place this week, all this week’s deals come from last year’s tournament.


In today’s deal, you (West) are told partner has a strong hand with spades. With nobody vulnerable, would you prefer to be in four spades or defending to four hearts doubled, knowing there are five hearts to your right?


If you opt to defend, what do you lead? You’d better lead a high or low trump if you want to set the contract! At the table West led his club ace and shifted to a diamond. Declarer should now cash the two top diamonds to pitch spades, play a trump to hand to find the bad news, then lead the club king (pitching a spade) and run the club jack, covered with the queen and ruffed.


Now the key play: Ruff a diamond back to hand with a high trump — not hard to figure out, since you do know all 13 of West’s cards by now. Then cash your remaining two club winners to pitch dummy’s two spades. Now when South leads his losing spade, he forces West to ruff high to prevent the heart nine from scoring.


In the three-card ending, West has the J-8-5 of trumps left, but declarer has the Q-7-6 and is guaranteed two more tricks for his contract.


Even though declarer missed this line and went down, he still gained a sizable swing, since his teammates had wrapped up four spades with the East-West cards.


South Holds:

J 4 3
A K Q 7 6
K J 9 8 2


South West North East
1 Pass 1 NT Pass
2 Pass 2 Pass
ANSWER: Your partner’s bid of two spades cannot be natural. With spades he would have bid the suit at his first turn. So he is suggesting a club fit and decent spades, and now all of a sudden you can think about making slam when previously you were not sure game would have any chance. Jump to four diamonds to show a diamond control, and maybe partner can cooperate in the cue-bidding.


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


jim2February 2nd, 2011 at 4:32 am

The real bidding fireworks would be if South-West faced North-East.

If I were aboard a Mississippi steamboat, I think I would exit the game. 😉

David WarheitFebruary 2nd, 2011 at 8:40 am

You state that West must lead a trump at trick one in order to defeat the contract. I’ve tried and tried, but it seems to me that if the opening lead is a diamond, that also would defeat the contract. Am I missing something?

bobbywolffFebruary 2nd, 2011 at 3:13 pm

Hi Jim2,

Your vivid imagination commands attention and if your coupling occurred, South-West would be laydown for a heart grand slam while North-East can only make 10-11 tricks in one of the pointed suits, depending who is on lead.

Even more importantly and stemming from your observations, this excitement, left mainly to the card gods or better explained to chance, IMHO arguably makes bridge a far more exciting game than Chess, if only to add a luck element which sometimes requires skill in divining out opportunities.

bobbywolffFebruary 2nd, 2011 at 3:33 pm

Hi David,

As long as your analysis still sets the hand after declarer (albeit double dummy which is defined as looking at all four hands while playing) wins the diamond and after throwing 2 spades, then leads a club to his Jack. East wins and leads the Jack of hearts which declarer wins and leads the King of clubs and ruffs out the Ace, then follows by ruffing a diamond high, cashing the 9 and 8 of clubs and ruffing the 2 with the last trump in dummy leaving a losing spade which will, per force, be ruffed by West. He then would lead the 10 of hearts which will enable declarer to win two out of the last 3 tricks.

Please check and see if West can do better, by leading a low heart, but I do not think so since it would apparently enable declarer to win the six creating an even easier ending for South.

If you still can set the hand, let me know what I am not seeing?

David WarheitFebruary 3rd, 2011 at 7:31 am

You said East wins trick 3, but of course west wins the queen of clubs. Instead of returning a trump, west now returns a low club, and there is no trump endplay. That’s where I got stuck and asked my question.

bobbywolffFebruary 4th, 2011 at 1:46 pm

Hi David,

My error. East is East and West is West and never the twain should meet, especially when the columnist is mixed up.

Apologies for the confusion.

Barry RigalFebruary 10th, 2011 at 5:43 am

I’m looking at the analysis of 4H on a diamond lead; declarer cashes DAK pitching spades and leads a club to the jack and queen.

back comes a low club to declarer’s eight. the Club 9 is covered with the ace and ruffed.

Now the crux; declarer ruffs a diamond high, and to beat the game West must underruff!!

If he pitches a club declarer plays CK C ruff and gets four of the last five tricks from his KQ76 facing stiff 9 because West wins and exits with a top heart to South, but must ruff the next spade and be endplayed at trick 12. If West underruffs, he keeps a club and can pitch it when South leads the losing spade. Now East is on lead at trick 12.Beautiful isn’t it!