Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, July 1, 2011

Vulnerable: East-West

Dealer: North


7 4 2

Q J 8 5

5 3

A 7 6 2


A 8 5 3

9 2

Q J 9 8 6

J 8


Q J 10 9

7 6

K 7 4

Q 9 5 3


K 6

A K 10 4 3

A 10 2

K 10 4


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

Opening Lead: Diamond queen

“Tis our true policy to steer clear of permanent alliances, with any portion of the foreign world.”

— George Washington

South needs to look beyond the first trick when West leads the diamond queen against today’s contract of four hearts. Since declarer does not want East to gain the lead and put a spade through, his strategy at trick one depends on East. If East plays low, so does he. If East plays the diamond king, declarer wins and relies on West to have the diamond jack. As long as this is the case, South’s diamond 10 can keep East off lead.

But let’s suppose East ducks at trick one, as most defenders would. Declarer wins the second diamond, draws two rounds of trump, ruffs a diamond, and now needs to set up a club winner without letting East gain the lead for the fatal spade shift.

If declarer simply plays three rounds of clubs, he goes down without a fight. If he ducks a club to West, that player wins and exits with a club. Declarer now gets to test clubs and fall back on the spade finesse, but this will not be his lucky day.

Better is for South to cash the club ace before leading a club to the 10. After winning his now bare club jack, West has only spades and diamonds left, so he must either lead away from the spade ace or concede a ruff and discard. Either way, South has 10 tricks.

If West had a third club to return, declarer would still be able to discard a spade on the fourth club at his leisure.


South holds:

7 4 2
Q J 8 5
5 3
A 7 6 2


South West North East
1 Dbl. 1
1 Pass 1 Pass
ANSWER: Your partner’s auction shows at least an ace more than an opening bid, with a decent spade suit of at least five cards. You are clearly too good to pass — indeed, with your high cards apparently working and a useful doubleton ruffing value, even a call of two spades hardly does justice to this hand. I would bid three spades instead.


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