Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, September 30th, 2011

Dealer: South

Vul: East-West


10 7 3

7 4

J 8 7 5 3

8 7 5



J 10 9 3 2

6 4 2

K 10 4 2


J 6 2

K Q 8 6 5

10 9

J 9 6


A K Q 9 8 4



A Q 3


South West North East
2 Pass 2 Pass
2 Pass 3 * Pass
3 NT Pass 4 Pass
6 All Pass    
*Artificial, second negative

Opening Lead: Heart Jack

“Although I enter not,

Yet round about the spot

Ofttimes I hover.”

— William Makepeace Thackeray

In six spades you appear to need a 2-2 trump break or the bare spade jack, in which case 13 tricks rate to be available. If they do not break, you might think you need a miracle in clubs, or a defensive error. In fact, though, once trumps break 3-1, the contract is safe against any lie of the cards.


On the lead of the heart jack to the ace, declarer cashes the spade ace as both defenders follow. It would be easy (but very foolish) to play a second top trump and cross your fingers. Essentially you would be playing for an overtrick and risking the contract in the process. The key point of the deal lies in the quality of dummy’s spade intermediates.


Instead of taking a second top spade, cash the diamond ace, king and queen. As soon as either defender ruffs in, declarer can regain the lead, draw the last trump, then cross to the spade 10 to pitch the two club losers on the remaining diamond winners.


Suppose instead that East discards on the third top diamond. Then declarer leads the spade nine to dummy’s 10. The best East can do is to take the trick and play back a club, but declarer wins the ace, goes to dummy with the trump seven, and takes his discards on the diamonds again.


The play works in exactly the same way if it is West who has the spade length.


South Holds:

J 10 9 3 2
6 4 2
K 10 4 2


South West North East
  1 1 Dbl.
Pass 2 Dbl. Pass
ANSWER: Your partner’s double shows extras and is for takeout. It might look tempting to pass and play for penalties, but such an action puts a lot of pressure on your partner — and if it doesn’t work, he may never reopen with shortness again. Instead of going for the jugular, just remove the double to three clubs and hope that the opponents bid on, unaware of the breakers ahead.


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