Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Saturday, October 1st, 2011

Dealer: South

Vul: East-West


A K J 3


5 3

9 7 5 3 2


9 8 5 4 2


Q J 10 4 2

J 6


Q 10 7 6

8 7 5 4 2

A 8

K 4


A J 10 9 6

K 9 7 6

A Q 10 8


South West North East
1 Pass 1 Pass
2 Pass 2 Pass
3 Pass 4 Pass
4 Pass 4 Pass
6 All Pass    

Opening Lead: Diamond Queen

“You, for example, clever to a fault.”

— Robert Browning

We all have the chance to be brilliant when we have plenty of time at our disposal. However, the problem in real life is not only to find the deception, but also to produce the play in perfect tempo. If we find the right false-card, but break tempo to produce it, declarer can normally see through our little game. With that advance warning, can you see how it might have been possible to deflect declarer from the winning path in today’s deal?


North’s decision to cue-bid facing short spades might have been ill-advised and encouraged his partner to look for the club slam. As it was, when West led the predictable diamond queen, declarer found himself in a horrid spot. He won the diamond king at trick two, crossed to the heart king, played a club to the queen, then crossed his fingers and laid down the club ace. When the king and jack appeared, he had his slam in the bag.


So who could have done better? West had a shot to deflect declarer from the winning line, if he had dropped the club jack under the queen. Declarer would surely have played West for a singleton club now. He would try to cross to dummy in hearts to repeat the trump finesse — disaster! West would ruff in and lead a third diamond, promoting the club king in East’s hand for down two. So much for a friendly trump break!


South Holds:

Q 10 7 6
8 7 5 4 2
A 8
K 4


South West North East
  1 1
ANSWER: The choice is a simple one: do you make a negative double, suggesting 4-4 in the majors, or do you bid one heart and temporarily bury the spade suit, hoping that the auction works out to allow you or your partner to bid spades later on if necessary? I’m strongly of the opinion that you really only have four hearts not five, so make the negative double and don’t worry about missing the 5-3 heart fit.


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


John Howard GibsonOctober 15th, 2011 at 3:53 pm

HBJ : All very well and good for the deceptive play, but South should at least cash the Ace/King of spades when in dummy with a heart, to pitch two diamonds at least……………… so as avert a diamond ruff if things go pear shape later on.

As for the deception…..well declarer should take the view that most Wests would choose to play the jack from jack doubleton….. because it can’t cost but has everything to gain. So we are back to eight ever nine never as a guiding principle.

Nevertheless, one would not suspect West to have a stiff heart because that might have been a resonable opening lead praying for East’s Ace to be the club Ace ?

I always take it upon myself to false card whenever it is necessary to protect partner’s fragile assets, or to lead declarer down the wrong path. In situations like this the false carding can only damage declarer and not partner … it seems the perfect situation to manouevre a heart ruff , which would never have been achieved on an opening heart lead. Brilliant defence.

Bobby WolffOctober 16th, 2011 at 1:19 am


Well said, but one not so fine day, declarer holding only AQ10 tripleton in clubs, but having Qx in spades and Kxx in diamonds, in order to compensate for his forgetting and not opening 1NT decided to compensate by rebidding his 3 card club suit and then for whatever the reason (probably more confusion) deciding to finesse the queen of clubs first, downing the well intended false card by his LHO, but then not forgetting to go back to dummy via a spade to repeat the club finesse and make his rather dubious slam.

A bit of Alice in Wonderland, but if on defense on this hand together with the brilliant club falsecard, can only say, “please someone, tell me I am dreaming all this”. Instead of “nothing ventured, nothing gained” it will be something ventured, all is lost”. A not so great example for me to have stuck in my mind as I go forward (perhaps notso) to tackle the wonders which I may encounter tomorrow morning as I write this, having gotten over jet lag some hours ago, but still not being able to sleep.

Nevertheless, thanks JHG, for your right-on comments, which nevertheless came to a notso ending, at least according to my nightmare. Tomorrow evening I am going to take hay to bed with me so that I can feed him.