Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, December 12th, 2011

Too late, too late! Ye cannot enter now.

Alfred Lord Tennyson

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


When a contract seems simple, check for possible pitfalls, and if they exist, take evasive action. Today's deal from a recent junior trials sees South not getting the point until too late.

Given that this was a junior event, North’s initial pass seems surprising, but he did not have a two-diamond pre-empt available. In any event, the best contract of three no-trump was reached easily enough.

West led the heart jack, which South won with the queen. It seems as if South has an easy passage, with just three aces to lose, and possibly the club queen as well. So declarer set about establishing the diamonds. East took the ace and returned another heart, which declarer won in dummy, in order to continue cashing diamonds.

What South had failed to take into account were the five discards he needed to make from hand. He pitched three spades and two clubs, but when he led dummy’s spade, East nipped in smartly with the ace to return a club through South’s now doubleton king-jack. The defense collected three club tricks, in addition to the aces in the two pointed suits: one down.

Declarer should have countered this possibility by establishing a spade winner at trick two. If a defender takes the ace immediately and returns a heart — as good as anything — South wins in hand and cashes one spade before setting about dislodging the diamond ace.

Whatever happens now, the defenders cannot take more than their four top winners.

Before leading, you should check if dummy has promised club length. If not, the lead of a top club looks as good as anything. If dummy has guaranteed real clubs, then perhaps a heart will hit dummy's shortness. Any honor in partner's hand makes a heart lead relatively safe.


♠ Q 9 4
 J 9 6 4
 Q 5 4
♣ K Q 3
South West North East
1♣ Pass 1
Pass 1♠ Pass 2 NT
Pass 3 NT All pass  

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


Jeff SDecember 26th, 2011 at 5:48 pm

I notice I can see the suits again today. Someone is on the ball – thank you!

Bobby WolffDecember 26th, 2011 at 7:41 pm

Hi Jeff S,

Thanks, I appreciate your kudos, but it should go directly to Bridge who did the correcting.

Let me call your attention to today’s hand and while simple enough, the proper handling of this sort of perceived problem makes winners out of notso.

At least to me, it is like wise ants putting food away for use in the winter, by realizing what will happen if care is not taken, and instead, impatience rules the day.

ALWAYS, as declarer and before committing, check and make sure the weather forecast guarantees smooth sailing.

jim2December 27th, 2011 at 2:55 pm

I also am now able to see the suits!


Merry Xmas!