Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Wednesday, October 26th, 2011

Dealer: East

Vul: North-South


J 9 6

9 7

K Q 6

A Q 10 8 3



Q 10 5 3 2

A 10 9

9 6 5 2


A 7 5

A 8 4

J 8 7 5 4 2



K Q 10 8 4 2

K J 6


K J 4


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

Opening Lead: Heart Three

“I pray thee, understand a plain man in his plain meaning.”

— William Shakespeare

The sending of unambiguous signals is an obvious advantage to defenders. However, you may be unable to do so without your partner’s co-operation.


In today’s deal, West led his fourth-highest heart (the three) against the spade game.


On winning with the ace, East then switched to his singleton club. Declarer won in hand and played a trump to dummy’s jack, West following, and East took the ace.


Because West’s initial heart lead could have concealed the king, East returned a heart. Declarer pounced with the king, drew trump, and ended with 11 tricks, the losing diamond and heart in hand going on dummy’s long clubs.


You can see the difference if East holds off the first trump lead, but then plays the ace on the second instead. West is unlikely to have more than one quick entry, so no more than one club ruff can be expected.


South’s two-spade rebid promised six cards in the suit; therefore, West will have an opportunity to signal his entry, but not until the second trump lead. Then, the diamond 10 from West provides an unequivocal road-map to the successful defense. A diamond to the ace and then a club ruff leaves declarer with just nine tricks.


Two more thoughts — for the expert only: should West’s club play at trick two be suit preference? In this context, I’d say yes. And should West be able to signal suit preference in trumps? Again I’d say yes — but this sophisticated agreement requires partnership discussion.


South Holds:

J 9 6
9 7
K Q 6
A Q 10 8 3


South West North East
    1 Pass
2 Pass 2 Pass
2 NT Pass 3 Pass
ANSWER: Your partner’s bidding suggests a strong hand with 4-5-1-3 pattern. Although you may feel tempted to temporize with three diamonds, then bid three no-trump at your next turn, I believe it is best to retreat to three no-trump at once because of the wasted values in spades. You want your partner to look for slam only if he has real extras.


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


jim2November 9th, 2011 at 1:05 pm

In the bidding quiz answer, did you mean wasted values in *diamonds*?

John Howard GibsonNovember 9th, 2011 at 4:23 pm

HBJ : Here’s a thought. Let’s assume East has only 2 trumps so can’t afford to duck the spade trick to wait for an East signal as to which red suit to find his entry.

On East play of the club ( finessing himself or West straightaway who ever had the King ) West should surmise there is reason behind such apparant madness….it must be a singleton. Therefore West should signal for a diamond should East get in again BY PLAYING THE TWO OF CLUBS !! Now how simple is that.

Clearly with nothing in clubs East has a choice and therefore the 2 is not showing a distributional count but a suit preference. signal.

Bobby WolffNovember 9th, 2011 at 8:59 pm


Again you are right on target with the club suit preference signal you suggest for West to make in order to get East to know which red suit entry he possesses (the king of hearts or the ace of diamonds).

The final paragraph in the column starts into the discussion of what you suggest, but does not sufficiently discuss it.

Thank you for your continued enterprise.

Bobby WolffNovember 9th, 2011 at 10:10 pm

Hi Jim2,

The gremlins are still at work since I wrote you once on this hand and it just up and disappeared.

Absolutely I meant wasted values in diamonds, not hearts. Sorry for the gaffe.