Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, November 25th, 2011

Dealer: West

Vul: East-West


J 3

A J 6 3 2

Q 7 4

K 8 3


6 4

Q 10 4

A 10 9 6 2

10 6 5


Q 8

K 9 8 7 5

J 8 5

Q J 9


A K 10 9 7 5 2

K 3

A 7 4 2


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

Opening Lead: Club Five

“I was looking a long while for a clue to the history of the past for myself…”

— Walt Whitman

This board from last fall’s Mitchell Open Board-a-Match Teams qualifying in Orlando did not give the defenders much grounds for optimism. West, looking at a very vulnerable heart holding, decided it was time to cash out. The lead of the diamond ace against four spades did not paralyze declarer, and that was an easy plus 480 for North-South.


Fortunately, his teammate was Linda Gordon, who received a low heart lead against the same contract. Linda (playing with her husband, Robb), ruffed the lead, drew trump in two rounds, and led the diamond three from hand. This is a classic Morton’s Fork Coup. (For those who don’t remember Henry VII’s grasping cardinal, go back to the history books.)


If West ducks the diamond ace, declarer can discard the diamond king on the heart ace and take 12 tricks thanks to the 3-3 split in clubs. If declarer takes the diamond ace, declarer will have two discards on the diamond queen and heart ace for her losing clubs.


There is a defense that will hold declarer to 11 tricks, but when the deal was first published, it was with the comment that no one was expected to find it. However, when Jason and Justin Hackett defended four spades, Justin led a club, and declarer won the lead in hand. He drew trumps in two rounds, then led a small diamond up. Justin flew up with the ace and played a second club, holding declarer to 11 tricks and winning the board for his team.


South Holds:

J 3
A J 6 3 2
Q 7 4
K 8 3


South West North East
1 1 Pass 2
Pass Pass Dbl. Pass
ANSWER: This is a takeout double (doubles under the trumps rate to be takeout or optional), so it sounds as if your partner has scattered values, with two clubs, two hearts and nine cards in the other suits. You have no reason to think it is right to defend, and no extra heart length, all of which argues for bidding two diamonds.


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