Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, May 24th, 2011

Vulnerable: East-West

Dealer: North


K 8

K J 9 7 6 5 4


J 10 3


10 9 7 2

A 3

9 8 7 6 5 2



Q 10 8 2

J 4 3

A K Q 9 8 7


A Q J 6 5 4 3

A Q 10

6 5 4


South West North East
1 2
2 Pass 3 Pass
4 All pass

Opening Lead: Club two

“Once I built a railroad, now it’s done.

Brother, can you spare a dime.”

— Yip Harburg

When this deal originally appeared in a par contest, the title of the hand was “Don’t be mean.” The message — one that has been repeated many times in this column — is that when as a defender you know what the partnership should do, it is your duty to send that message as clearly as possible to your partner. If you send an ambiguous message and he does not understand you, then it is your fault, not his.

The bidding could go in many different ways, but North-South should have no difficulty in reaching four spades. West might consider taking a flyer and doubling, but, as the cards lie, it calls for very farsighted defense to defeat the contract.

West leads his singleton club, East winning the queen and continuing the suit by leading the ace. To West, the contract appears to be on the way to defeat unless — by some unfortunate chance — South is void in hearts. But a thoughtful defender can guard even against that. On the second club West throws the heart three, and when South follows to the third club, West makes the sensational discard of the heart ace. Now, on a heart play by East, the defense is guaranteed a trump trick, since if declarer ruffs high, West has insured himself a trump trick from his remaining spots. As the cards lie, this is the only way to defeat the contract.


South holds:

10 9 7 2
A 3
9 8 7 6 5 2


South West North East
Pass 1 2 2
Pass Pass Dbl. Pass
ANSWER: This is a takeout double by definition; all low-level doubles by a player facing a partner who has not had the chance to bid or who has done nothing but pass, is best played as takeout. Your partner rates to have four spades and six clubs, so simply bid two spades.


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