Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, February 1st, 2011

Dealer: South

Vul: N-S


Q 6 3

Q 8

K 9 8 5 3

K 9 4


J 9 7 5

J 10 6 3

A 7 4

8 3


10 4 2

9 7 5 2

Q 6

A Q J 5


A K 8

A K 4

J 10 2

10 7 6 2


South West North East
1 NT Pass 3 NT All Pass

Opening Lead: three

“He only does it to annoy

Because he knows it teases.”

— Lewis Carroll

There should be no difficulty in reaching three no-trump here, against which West should lead a low heart. From J-10 sequences, one should lead an honor only if the holding is supported by the nine or eight.


South wins the first heart trick and leads the diamond jack, losing the finesse to East. East should now assume that if his partner cannot obtain the lead, the game cannot be defeated whatever he does.


However, declarer’s first-round finesse in diamonds strongly suggests that he is missing the ace. If West does have an entry, clubs look like the most promising avenue of attack for the defenders.


So at the third trick East should return a low club, knowing that to put partner on lead to broach clubs initially from his side would not suffice to set the contract. It would of course be a mistake for East to attack clubs by leading the queen. This can never gain and would be fatal if (as here) South had started with four clubs to the 10.


After the return of the low club at trick three, South is helpless. He continues diamonds, and West holds off until the third round, waiting to see East’s discard. When East pitches the spade two on the diamond ace, it should be clear to West that East wants a club back, and so the defense can take two diamond and three club tricks.


South Holds:

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


South West North East
Pass 1 1 Pass
ANSWER: South must raise spades. The only question is how high should he go? A raise to two spades is more obstructive than constructive, and as a passed hand South could hardly be better than he is. Accordingly, I would choose a two-heart cuebid for safety, just in case my partner thought two clubs ought to be natural 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

1 Comment

A.V.Ramana RaoMay 31st, 2015 at 7:14 am

Dear Mr. Wolff
I recently stumbled upon this website ( about a week back to be precise) which is a veritable treasure house of instructive hands
In the diagrammed deal- ( Assume this is on IMP scoring) as declarer needs only 3 tricks in Diamonds – suppose Declarer wins the first trick in dummy and detaches 8 of diamonds, what will east do? There are a few players who would cover but perhaps not & in that case if west wins with D A, declarer has easy route to 9 tricks if not 10. However if a thoughtful West ducks D 8. Now what ? I think declarer should play D K trying to pin D Q as by now he is certain that East holds D Q ( if not D A too which is a remote possibility) Now If W wins with D A and D Q does not drop, Declarer has not lost anything and he will romp home if W does not shift to Clubs- Thought I should bring this nuance to your kind attention
A.V.Ramana Rao
PS: I am from India. I do not play but am a passionate reader