Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, September 2nd, 2011

Dealer: South

Vul: Both


K 5

A 6 3 2

Q 10 8 6 2

J 4


Q 9 8 3

K Q 7

K 7 5

9 8 3


10 2

J 9

J 9 4 3

A 10 7 5 2


A J 7 6 4

10 8 5 4


K Q 6


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

Opening Lead: Club 9

“So, the powder’s low, and the larder’s clean,

And surrender drapes, with its blacks impending,

All the stage for a sorry and sullen scene:

Yet indulge me my whim of a madcap ending!”

— Helen Gray Cone

After a simple auction to four hearts, West has no reason to avoid leading one of the unbid suits. With his potential defensive tricks, a passive defense seems right, so the club nine looks like the most helpful card. East wins his ace and cannot sensibly switch to any other suit, so continues with a second club.


South takes the second trick and cannot draw trumps at once. If he plays a trump to dummy’s ace and a second trump, the defense might win and play a third round. Even if trumps split, this could leave him with a problem, as there would be only one trump in dummy to cope with two or more possible spade losers.


An alternative approach might be to draw no trumps at all and play on a crossruff. The danger with following that route (or even drawing exactly one round of trumps with the ace) is that the defense may make their three high trumps separately. Try it, and you will see that the defenders are likely to win out.


The simplest winning line is to give up a trump at trick three. You can win the return, then play the heart ace, and only now will you tackle the spades. After the spade king and a spade to the ace, you ruff a spade. You can later ruff another spade to establish your fifth spade in hand. The defense wins the first trick, the heart you give up, and one more trump at the end, but that is all.


South Holds:

Q 9 8 3
K Q 7
K 7 5
9 8 3


South West North East
  1 Pass
3 4 Pass Pass
ANSWER: Your three-spade call was a limit raise and was not forcing. Hence, your partner’s pass of four diamonds is also not forcing. Since part of your assets consist of an apparently badly placed diamond honor and you have a minimum hand with no aces, you should have no problem in passing now.


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