Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Saturday, December 24th, 2011

Tell the truth or trump — but get the trick.

Mark Twain]

North North
Neither ♠ Q 7 2
 10 8 3 2
 J 7
♣ A Q 8 4
West East
♠ 9 8 6
 A Q 10 8 3 2
♣ 10 5 3
♠ J 5
 Q J 9 7 5 4
 K 5
♣ K J 9
♠ A K 10 4 3
 A 6
 9 6 4
♣ 7 6 2
South West North East
Pass Pass
1♠ 2 2♠ 3
3♠ All pass    


The Solomon Cup is a Philadelphia tournament that my wife (Judy Kay-Wolff, an ex Philadelphia resident and big-time Eagles fan) avidly follows. Today's deal, from this year's tournament, gave both declarer and the defenders the chance to shine.

The contract of three spades was a Goldilocks contract — two spades would have been too easy; four spades, too hard. West led the heart king and North, Corey Krantz, playing with Howie Cohen, took the trick, desperately needing to generate extra trump tricks. When he ducked a diamond, West won the queen and played the diamond ace and another diamond. Krantz ruffed with the queen and could draw trump in three rounds thanks to the location of the spade jack onside. On the third trump he pitched a club from the board.

He next led a low club from hand, and when West followed small (a play that I suspect many of us might have made without overdue reflection), declarer carefully inserted dummy’s eight and let East win the trick. That player had a choice of leading a club back into the tenace or leading out top hearts, when declarer would ruff and cross to dummy to pitch the club loser on the heart 10. So Krantz made his contract.

Note that had West put in the club 10, declarer is faced with a choice of losing options. If he finesses, then East wins and returns a club to set up the defenders’ fifth winner before declarer can establish a heart trick.

Whatever methods you play over reverses without intervention from the opponents, a call of three clubs by you here must be nonforcing in competition. So you are far too strong for that. Start by cue-bidding two spades to look for no-trump, or planning to raise clubs at your next turn. A reasonable choice would be a jump to four clubs, but that bypasses three no-trump.


♠ Q 7 2
 10 8 3 2
 J 7
♣ A Q 8 4
South West North East
1♣ Pass
1 1♠ 2 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


jim2January 7th, 2012 at 1:43 pm

Can the defense do better if East overtakes the QD and leads the QH?

When West shows out, East could continue with either a small heart of the JH.

Bobby WolffJanuary 7th, 2012 at 3:30 pm

Hi Jim2,

Yes, the defense, specifically East could do better by overtaking the queen of diamonds and leading Queen and then a low heart. In effect it becomes a double uppercut, manufacturing a trump trick with the combined defensive holdings of the Jack and nine, and, of course then rendering the club end play moot.

Also, it is indeed interesting that East can, as you said, either lead a low heart or the high heart and still defeat the contract because declarer does not have the ability to then, in effect end play East in clubs, an opportunity he took advantage of by West’s failure to rise 2nd hand with the 10 when clubs were first led.

A tangled web, yes, and one in which a bright intermediate can learn about new ways he can save tricks, by combining excellent technique with the tempo of the hand.

Thanks for calling attention to at least some of our readers who appreciate somewhat original trick taking advantages.

Jeff HJanuary 8th, 2012 at 4:29 am

I am a former resident of the Philadelphia area and am familiar with the Solomon cup. It has an interesting format, in that the early rounds take place over several weeks. as a round robbin or bracketed round robin, depending on the number of participants. The games are generaly held at bridge clubs throughout the area.

After the round robbin phase, the tourmament enters the knockout phase. The B and C teams have their own knockouts, but the winner of each of these brackets advances into the KO for the next higher bracket. Thus an exceptional C team could, in theory, win the entire event. Of course, that rarely happens.

It is an interesting format that could easily be replicated in other metro areas.