Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, May 4th, 2011

Vulnerable: Neither

Dealer: South


8 7 3

9 4 3

9 5

A 10 9 8 2


K J 6 5 2

K 7 5 2

J 10 3



10 9

Q 8 6

Q 8 7 4

Q 6 5 3


A Q 4

A J 10

A K 6 2

K J 4


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

Opening Lead: Spade five

“Syllables govern the world.”

— Sir Edward Coke

One of my favorite collections of deals this year comes from the fertile imagination of Patrick Jourdain, who is president of the International Bridge Press Association.

For many years he has written sets of problems for Bridge Magazine in the U.K. and contributed a weekly problem for Teletext on Channel Four Television. I shall be running some deals from his book “Problem Corner” all this month. In today’s deal, consider how you should play three no-trump on a spade lead.

If clubs split, you have no problem, so you have only to protect yourself against a 4-1 break. One solution is to lead the club king, then the jack, which works fine if West has length. But if East has the length, he may duck the jack, just as he would if you had started by running the jack as your first play in the suit. Now you have only three club tricks and few chances to get the hearts going.

A better line is to win the spade, play the club king, and (unless East shows out) lead a low club from hand to dummy’s eight! If the defense wins the second club, you can later overtake the club jack to ensure nine tricks. If, on the second club, dummy’s eight wins, but either defender still has the guarded queen remaining, then take a heart finesse. You will later use the club ace as your entry to dummy to take a second heart finesse.


South holds:

K J 6 5 2
K 7 5 2
J 10 3


South West North East
1 2 2
ANSWER: In this sequence your double would be takeout, suggesting values and either both unbid suits or one unbid suit plus support for partner. You would normally require better fit for partner than a singleton, but here you would expect partner always to deliver a six-card minor, or to be able to bid a three-card major if he did not want to repeat his clubs.


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


Albert OhanaMay 17th, 2011 at 3:38 pm

Dear M. Wolff

In one of your column, you cited a player in East overtaking the Club King led by his partner and returning the 5, like a man doubleton( dummy is doubleton in Clubs ). The partner takes with the ten and plays a small Club, deceiving the declarer playing 4 Spades who ruffs with the King in dummy, and then plays Ace and Queen, and East makes his Jack third ( South had A94 and dummy KQ108xx ). But don’t you think that when East follows suit in third trick, South should smell something wrong, and take a finesse against the East’s Jack ?

For what other reason than having the Jack third would East deceive his partner ?

Thank you so much for your so good advices and for your daily hands, and please excuse my far from perfect English

Sincerely, Al. Ohana

bobbywolffMay 17th, 2011 at 4:41 pm

Hi Albert,

Every imperfect thing is forever excused but haven’t you heard about the double, double-cross?

Yes, sometimes bridge defense can resemble an Alfred Hitchcock movie complete with double agents and other exciting surprises.

Once during an exchange during the early years of the Aces bridge team, after the bidding and early defense of a particular hand was determined the following combination was under the microscope: N. A10x opposite S. KQ9xx. After the King was cashed and a small one offered toward the A10, lefty followed with the 8, whereupon the member of the Aces team involved triumphantly finessed the 10 only to lose to the Jack with the suit breaking 3-2 all the time.

Aren’t we devils?

Nothing is ever certain when two bridge partnerships conspire together to bamboozle the other. The mind games which often go on, usually at a fairly high-level, only contribute to make our game even more appealing.

NickMay 17th, 2011 at 9:34 pm

You entered the wrong date for May 1, 2011 – May 4, 2011. You should not use 2010 dates in front of 2011 dates. Who can fix that?

bobbywolffMay 19th, 2011 at 9:42 pm

Hi Nick,

I’m not sure exactly what you mean. However, I do not have the ability to check on possible incorrect dates which may somehow meander into print.

The web-site receiving the Aces on Bridge hands for use (with a 2 week delay) decodes the hand to be used and possibly some gremlins might creep into play when they then upload the hand onto their site.

Since what you are suggesting is outside my capabilities, if you need me to communicate with my website on something they can fix, please let me know.