Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, June 14th, 2011

Vulnerable: North-South

Dealer: East


6 5

J 6 5 2

Q J 10 9 3

A 2


J 10 4 3

8 7 4 2

K Q J 10 8


9 7 2

A K 10 9 7 3

6 5

5 4


A K Q 8

Q 8 4


9 7 6 3


South West North East
2 NT Pass 3 NT All pass

Opening Lead: Club king

“Rarely, rarely, comest thou,

Spirit of Delight!”

— Percy Bysshe Shelley

Today’s deal is one of the nicest constructed hands I’ve seen in a long while. When you’ve solved it, give it to your friends as a puzzle, and see how long it takes them to spot the theme.

After East has opened a weak two, you play the predictable no-trump game and receive the lead of a top club. To cut the defenders’ communications as best you can, you duck the trick, win the next club, and take stock of the situation. With six top winners and only one heart trick to establish, how can you bring the diamonds in without the aid of Houdini?

The answer is both elegant and simple, once you see the trick, but the solution certainly does not jump off the page. You cash all your diamond and spade winners, reducing East down to his six hearts. Leading the heart queen won’t work now — East ducks. Similarly, if you run the heart eight, East ducks that, AND the heart queen when you play it next! At that point you will have to give the last four tricks either to East or to West, no matter what you lead.

Instead, you must lead the heart four to the five in dummy. East must win that, after which he can do no better than cash the heart king, under which you unblock the queen. East can take his heart ace, but then must give the lead to dummy, which is now high.


South holds:

6 5
J 6 5 2
Q J 10 9 3
A 2


South West North East
1 1
Dbl. 2 Pass Pass
ANSWER: Passing now would be reasonable, but it is tough to give up on diamonds when the opponents have found a fit. You could double for a second time, which is takeout, suggesting extras beyond what you showed with your first call, or you can simply bid three diamonds (my choice). This action is not strong, since you would have bid two diamonds at your first turn with invitational values.


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