Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, February 8th, 2011

Dealer: West

Vul: Both


A K 4 2

Q J 10 9 2

A Q 3 2


K 5 4

8 7

Q J 9 8 7 5 3 2


Q J 10 7 3

A 7 6 3


A K 10


9 8 6 5


K J 9 6 5 4

6 4


South West North East
3 Dbl. 5
5 Pass 6 All Pass

Opening Lead: Queen

“There could be no honor in a sure success, but much might be wrested from a sure defeat.”

— T.E. Lawrence

After a club lead, careful play might have landed South his diamond slam today. He should ruff the lead, draw trumps, and play a heart toward his eight. If East plays low, the eight loses to West’s king, and it is now a simple matter to take a ruffing finesse against East’s ace. Better defense would be for East to go in with the heart ace at once. Now declarer needs to guess which defender has the king. Should he try to ruff it out or play for the drop? In the event, declarer played a heart before drawing trumps, and now a spade ruff beat the slam.


At the other table East decided to bide his time and passed North’s takeout double of three clubs. South bid three diamonds, and North showed his five-card suit and extra values by bidding three hearts. Now when East bid five clubs, North and South were in a forcing auction, so a pass by South would have been more encouraging than bidding. South, with a singleton in his partner’s suit, decided to discourage by doubling, and North saw no reason to argue with that decision, perhaps hoping that his partner had a club trick.


North led a top spade, which declarer ruffed. Later in the play North was squeezed in the majors and West made an overtrick.


Think of how the South player from the first room must have felt. He went down in a slam he might have made — and so gained only 13 IMPs!


South Holds:

Q J 10 7 3
A 7 6 3
A K 10


South West North East
1 2 Pass Pass
Dbl. Pass Pass 2
ANSWER: When your partner passed your takeout double of two diamonds, it suggested that your side should not let the opponents play undoubled. With four trumps it looks logical to double two hearts, without worrying about the quality of your hearts. You have nothing to be ashamed of here, with quick tricks and trump length.


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


David WarheitFebruary 23rd, 2011 at 9:24 am

While north can be squeezed in the majors, in fact west will ruff four rounds of spades which will establish dummy’s long spade thus making the squeeze unnecessary. Of course, if north never leads spades, west must rely on the squeeze, but if north leads hearts and then wins the first diamond and leads hearts again, nothing works and west is held to 5.

bobbywolffFebruary 23rd, 2011 at 3:13 pm

Hi David,

Yes, your observations and comments are usually on target.

I hope for your sake that at the table you cut some slack for yourself and not try and over analyze every possibility, whether real or imagined, because if so, your efforts may become adversely effected by their sheer weight of frequency causing you to lose endurance and therefore subject to mistakes.

As long as you save your analysis for discussions you should be OK, but I can assure you that if not, bridge perfection may tend to be your undoing, while trying to achieve being as good as you can be.