Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Friday July 29th, 2011

Vulnerable: Neither

Dealer: North



A 9 6 5 4

10 9 5 2

A K 6


A 9 5 2

K 10 3

Q J 7 3

9 4


K 7 6 4

J 8 7

8 6

J 10 8 5


Q 10 8 3

Q 2

A K 4

Q 7 3 2


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

Opening Lead: Spade two

“It was strange

How things turned out — the chances! You’d just got

To take your luck in life, you couldn’t change

Your luck.”

— Wilfrid Gibson

In this deal from the second round of the Spingold tournament held in New Orleans last summer, Nick L’Ecuyer found an extra chance in a difficult three-no-trump contract.

The defenders lead a fourth-highest spade two and continue the suit. You pitch a heart from dummy, and the defenders erroneously lead a third spade. What do you discard from dummy, and how do you plan the play?

You have excellent chances in either minor, but it’s tough to get any additional chances from the hearts because you have to discard twice from dummy. If you pitch two hearts from the board, you can’t exploit a 3-3 split. If you pitch a club from dummy and cross to the club king to lead a heart up, the defenders will win the heart king and play back a club to kill the dummy.

At one table, declarer simply tested diamonds from the top. He took the king and ace from hand, then led a third diamond, falling back on the club split or a squeeze. This line gave him an excellent mathematical chance — by my calculations about four chances in five, but today was not his lucky day.

L’Ecuyer found an extra chance after pitching a heart from the board. He tested clubs first, West discarding a spade, then cashed the long spade to extract a heart from West. Next he played three rounds of diamonds. West could cash his long diamond but was endplayed at trick 12 to concede two hearts by leading away from his king.


South holds:

Q 10 8 3
Q 2
A K 4
Q 7 3 2


South West North East
1 1 2 Pass
ANSWER: Assuming two spades is a weak jump response (the standard meaning for that action by an unpassed hand in competition), you should raise to three spades now as a barricade. This auction does not show extras; with a game-try you would cue-bid or bid two no-trump, if appropriate. Bidding directly makes West’s decision far harder at his next turn if he has extra shape or high cards.


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


Jeff SAugust 12th, 2011 at 5:03 pm

I am interested in the statement that the defenders erroneously led a third spade. What should West have led instead? It looks to me like everything transposes back anyway when South cashes his two good spades. What am I missing?

Thank you for going above and beyond the call of duty in answering all our questions. It is always appreciated (and educational).

Bobby WolffAugust 12th, 2011 at 11:36 pm

Hi Jeff,

I’m embarrassed at the presentation of the particular column mentioned, since it is

skewed in several different ways.

Even though it represents a real hand played by a very good declarer, the dealer and bidding was, at the very least, not reported accurately.

However, in answer to your point, yes, after the declarer is benefitted by the defense gift of a second spade trick, the actual declarer found a better way to score the game going trick.

You have missed nothing and I do appreciate your kind words.

I only, at least in this case, and because of the Aces gaffe, do not feel like I have earned any kudos, but am still very appreciative of the things you say.

Thank you for writing and for everyone’s sake, let us hope for better and more accurate reporting.

jim2August 13th, 2011 at 2:18 am

Jeff –

West led the third spade from 95 into declarer’s Q8 or 108.