Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Wednesday, May 25th, 2011

Vulnerable: Both

Dealer: North


A Q 10 8 6

Q 6 3

K Q 7



J 3

J 10 5

J 8 5 3

Q 8 7 6


K 9 7 2

A 9 8 2


K 9 5 2


5 4

K 7 4

A 10 6 4 2

10 4 3


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

Opening Lead: Heart jack

“The degree of civilization in a society can be judged by entering its prisons.”

— Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Declarer in three no-trump wins the heart jack with his king in hand as you signal with the nine (always signal with the highest card you can afford). He then plays a spade to dummy’s 10, which you should duck. The point is that you are not costing yourself a trick in the suit if you do. (You know that if declarer has a doubleton spade, you will still collect two tricks in the suit, but you are happy for declarer to waste his entries to hand to play on spades. If you win the first spade trick, you make declarer’s life easier in the spade suit, AND you do not know which minor to play!)

Now South plays the king and queen of diamonds and a diamond to his ace before playing another spade to the jack, queen and your king. What do you do now?

A spade or a heart would clearly be disastrous, so it has to be a club. Because you need to put partner in so that he can play another heart through dummy’s queen, you must switch to the club KING. Whether declarer wins or ducks, you have forced an entry to your partner’s hand.

This play does have a name — the Deschappelles Coup, named after the famous 18th-century whist and chess player. By shifting to an honor, you save partner from having to put up his potentially vulnerable high card and insure that you can put him on play sooner or later.


South holds:

5 4
K 7 4
A 10 6 4 2
10 4 3


South West North East
3 Dbl. 4
4 Pass 5 Pass
ANSWER: In this sequence the five-club call is a cuebid for diamonds. (With both majors, your partner would have started with a cuebid of four clubs at his first turn.) With nothing to be ashamed of here, you should bid five hearts in case your partner is looking for a grand slam. You are certainly too good to sign off in five diamonds.


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


Angelo RomanoJune 9th, 2011 at 2:24 pm

Dear Mr. Wolff, for the sake of Deschapelles you omitted that East has to discard two clubs on diamonds, so at the end the king of clubs from Kx is easy for me too! But if South after the Queen of spade plays Ace and another (it can never cost the contract, a surlevee at most) NOW East need to play the king of clubs ..

Many thanks


bobby wolffJune 9th, 2011 at 6:12 pm

Thanks Angelo,

For making this hand clearer to most readers, although we as East are hoping that our partner, not the devilish declarer, possesses the club queen. For column purposes, unlike the real world of being at the table, always rewards good play by making sure partner has a hand which fits your play.

Life and column reading enthusiasts will always get their just rewards for making the right play. Life can be beautiful.