Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Saturday, December 10th, 2011

Sometimes you gotta lose some to win some later.

Aaron Burks

North North
East-West ♠ A 9 8 2
 A J 6 3
 A Q 4
♣ 5 3
West East
♠ 6 4
 8 7 4
 J 9 8 5 3 2
♣ Q 8
♠ 5 3
 K 10 9 5
♣ A K J 10 6 2
♠ K Q J 10 7
 Q 2
 10 7 6
♣ 9 7 4
South West North East
1 2♣
2♠ Pass 4♠ All pass


David Berkowitz, playing with Larry Cohen, made his game contract in today's deal by hoping that a finesse would lose rather than win. Sometimes that works out to be good news, not bad.

North would likely have a relatively easy task in four spades on the defense of three rounds of clubs. But the play in four spades from the South seat is very challenging. (If West leads the club queen, East should leave his partner on play, and after a diamond shift, declarer will have to fly up with the diamond ace to make.

However, Berkowitz as South was treated to a trump lead, even though East had overcalled in clubs. He won in hand, crossed to the North hand with a second trump, and drew the correct inference from the bidding when he led a low heart from dummy toward his queen in hand. If East takes the king, the route forward is clear, in that declarer can discard both his diamond losers on the hearts, so East correctly ducked.

Berkowitz took the heart queen, played the heart ace, ruffed a heart high, then exited from hand with a club. East overtook his partner’s queen, cashed two clubs, and played the heart king. Berkowitz ruffed that, then led his last club, letting it ride, throwing a diamond from dummy to endplay East to give a ruff and discard or play a diamond back into the ace-queen.

You may not have the traditional values associated with an overcall in spades, but it is important in positions like this, where you know what suit you want your partner to lead, to get into the action by bidding your strong suit. If you always overcall at the one-level with good suits like this, the negative inferences that can be drawn from a failure to act are also very important and revealing.


♠ K Q J 10 7
 Q 2
 10 7 6
♣ 9 7 4
South West North East
1♣ Pass 1

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