Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, March 3rd, 2011

Dealer: East

Vul: Both



10 9 8 5 3

K 10 8 3

Q 6 4


Q 9 8 6 5

J 7 6 4

J 6

J 10


A K 10 7 4

Q 2

7 4

A 9 8 7


J 2


A Q 9 5 2

K 5 3 2


South West North East
2 3 5 All Pass

Opening Lead: Queen

“Hypocrite reader — my double — my brother!”

— Charles Baudelaire

Stuart and Gerald Tredinnick are one of the pairs of twin brothers who have represented Great Britain successfully. Among other things they were part of the team that won the world junior championships 20 years ago.


Here is Gerald at work in five diamonds. Knowing that they had at most one spade trick to take on defense, West started off by leading the spade queen to try to retain the lead. Then, worried that declarer might be able to set up some hearts, West switched to the club jack, which ran around to declarer’s king.


Declarer now played the heart ace and king, then cashed the diamond ace and played a diamond to dummy’s king. He then ruffed a heart, ruffed a spade, ruffed a heart, and played a low club. When West played the 10, Gerald ducked. With nothing left but spades, West had to give declarer a ruff and discard. South ruffed in dummy, discarding one club from his hand, and then discarded his last club loser on dummy’s fifth heart.


Nicely played, but declarer would have needed to see through the backs of the cards if West had continued with a second spade at trick two. At trick three, declarer must play a club from dummy himself. Now come the heart ace and king, followed by a finesse against the diamond jack!


This enables him to ruff a heart, cross to the diamond king, and ruff another heart, before playing a low club to reach the same position as before.


South Holds:

Q 9 8 6 5
J 7 6 4
J 6
J 10


South West North East
1 Pass
1 Pass 1 NT Pass
ANSWER: It is a part of normal modern bidding style for responder to be able to find out more about opener’s hand here with a forcing bid of two diamonds — known as “New Minor.” This acts like Stayman, asking opener to show three-card support, or four cards in the unbid major. If you are playing this convention, two hearts by you is natural and weak, denying invitational values, and therefore ideal.


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


JeffMarch 17th, 2011 at 12:55 pm

The CK disappeared from South hand in the website rendering of the hand.

jim2March 17th, 2011 at 2:58 pm

Assuming South played the spade jack on the first trick, might West have feared that East had a six-card suit? Since South has the deuce, East’s card could have been consistent with an even count signal.

bobbywolffMarch 17th, 2011 at 4:43 pm

Hi Jeff,

Yes, the King of Clubs is obviously in the South hand, but I apologize for whatever happened to leave it out. It is in the process of being added. No doubt it is confusing to many readers who should not have to worry about cutting and pasting.

Thanks for writing.

bobbywolffMarch 17th, 2011 at 4:55 pm

Hi Jim2,

Yes, you have hit upon the numeracy suggested to be able to play the game more fluidly which comes into play in both declarer’s play and defense.

To make matters more difficult for the defense, it, on this hand as well, probably lends itself to East, at trick one, to use his following suit to suggest what suit for his partner to switch to, rather than a specific count on the original suit. That would result in partner playing the 4 which would be meant to suggest clubs rather than hearts.

Obviously in the curious chore of bridge column writing, it makes it more difficult for the declarer to strip the hand, but realistically it doesn’t take much away from being at the table, because false cards or not, it is usually no easy task to see everyone’s problems at trick one and often a less than optimum play (or false card) is forthcoming.

All well and good, but the embarrassing thing for me is for the king of clubs to be omitted from South.

We hope to do better next time and thanks for your usual perception in explaining what is important.

David WarheitMarch 17th, 2011 at 7:57 pm

I would have led the jack of clubs on opening lead which is lethal to the contract. I don’t think this is double dummy, but what do you think?

bobbywolffMarch 17th, 2011 at 11:51 pm

Hi David,

Just like there is a time to love and a time to die, there is a time to lead ones partner’s suit and a time to deviate.

The problem is when, and only the “Shadow” knows for sure. However, I, for one, would certainly not quarrel with the jack of clubs lead, since my defensive potential looks barren, if not worse.

However, one word to the wise, over the course of a lifetime, it is better, at least in my opinion, to be more straightlaced than creative since partner might be expecting to defeat them, but refrained from doubling because of obvious doubt, and may be very chagrined by your industry.

As the owner of the Oakland Raiders, Al Davis, use to say, “Just win, baby”, and you can do anything you want. But before that, you better win. One of the Aces seven deadly sins was under the heading of unilateral actions and possibly a club lead would be so determined to be, especially if it took a spade lead to defeat them.

Thanks for posing an alternative, since it is rare to get screamed at in discussions, but possibly not so at the table.