Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, February 10th, 2011

Dealer: South

Vul: Neither


Q 9 7 3

Q 8 5 4 2

Q 8 4




J 9 7

A J 3

J 10 8 6 4


J 6 4 2

10 6 3

10 7 5

5 3 2


10 8 5


K 9 6 2

K Q 9 7


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

Opening Lead: Jack

“The sunbeams are my shafts, with which I kill


— Percy Bysshe Shelley

Today’s hand, from the 2006 Bonn teams tournament, illuminates a brilliant and imaginative defense by Tom Townsend, a regular on the English team.


At one table Colin Simpson received a club lead and had no difficulty in bringing home his three-no-trump contract, given the kindly lie of the opponents’ major-suit cards. He unblocked hearts, then led a spade toward the dummy. When West won his king and returned a low club, that allowed declarer an easy route to nine tricks.


Townsend, at the other table, also led a club against the no-trump game. Declarer unblocked the hearts, then led a spade toward dummy. Winning perforce, Townsend appreciated that declarer held most, if not all, of the hidden high-card points. So he switched to the diamond jack. This ruse needed his partner, David Gold, to hold the 10, but without that card, there would have been no defense.


Declarer, reading West for the diamond J-10 and East for the ace, was not inclined to smell a rat. He won in hand with the king, then played another spade toward dummy. Back on lead, Townsend saw his plan through by leading the diamond three. The eight from dummy lost to Gold’s 10, and Gold returned a diamond to Townsend’s ace.


West now fixed declarer firmly in dummy by returning his last heart, and Gold took the setting trick with the spade jack — from a hand that at the outset looked unlikely to take even one trick, let alone two.


South Holds:

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


South West North East
1 Pass
1 Pass 1 Pass
ANSWER: The simple answer is to raise to three spades, with invitational values and four trumps. Not unreasonable, but in my view your scattered queens and singleton in partner’s first suit are not worth more than a raise to two spades. Conversely, had my partner opened one diamond instead of one club, I would jump to three spades, expecting to have a more useful hand for my partner.


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


John Howard GibsonFebruary 24th, 2011 at 11:35 am

HBJ : If declarer covers the jack with the queen either it wins allowing access to the hearts, or it is covered by the Ace. If this happens a club return looks certain. Once back in declarer can confidently play the nine of diamonds, either setting up the 8 in dummy for that precious entry, or setting up 3 diamonds tricks if it is ducked. Declarer may now get home with either 2C,2D, and 5H, or 3D, 3C, 2H, and 1S

bobbywolffFebruary 24th, 2011 at 2:02 pm


Right you are, but because of the deceptive Jack of diamonds, declarer got a different perception of where the other two diamond honors were located since often when a jack is led, that hand also contains the ten, but not as often the ace.

Consequently West sent the declarer on the road to oblivion and then after the diamond deception, he audaciously stuck declarer back in dummy to drive the final coffin nail and thus the setting trick, the losing spade to his partner.

Sometimes a defensive rule of thumb may be described as, when the cards lie favorably for the declarer (here the 3-3 heart break) drastic means are required for the defense. Those drastic means on this hand surrounded itself with causing the diamonds to be miss guessed even though they had to be broached by the defense (having to play 1st and 3rd to the diamond tricks instead of, if the declarer was forced to lead them, 2nd and 4th). Brilliant reasoning and execution by the Brits.