Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, January 13th, 2012

Nothing is so good as it seems beforehand.

George Eliot

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


When both sides have a good fit and the bidding gets high quickly, it is always hard to judge who can make what. It is often a sound principle to keep on bidding when in doubt. Maybe you can make your contract, or maybe it is a good sacrifice. That was why North tried five diamonds over four hearts.

Declarer ruffed the heart lead, crossed to hand with a club, then ruffed another heart. However, the pace of play now slowed down and declarer was short of winning options. In practice he played a low spade, but East went in with the king and switched to a trump.

Declarer ran this to dummy but now, with the spade suit blocked, the best he could do was cash the spade ace and jack, discarding a heart. In the end he had to lose a trump and a club to go with the spade already lost.

Although it looked tempting to play to ruff hearts in dummy immediately, declarer should have foreseen that this line might not work against a bad trump break. Look at the effect of playing a spade at trick two.

Say that East goes in with the king, as before, and plays a trump. Declarer runs this to dummy, plays a spade to the queen, ruffs another heart, and cashes the spade ace while discarding a heart, then plays the spade jack. Whether East ruffs in or discards, declarer loses just one more trick.

Your partner's double shows a good hand, unsuitable for a call of three no-trump, something akin to an optional double. It looks normal to bid four clubs now, suggesting extra club length and allowing your partner to decide where to go from here.


♠ A J 3 2
 10 9 4
♣ J 9 5 4 3 2
South West North East
1 1
Dbl. 3 Dbl. 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 2012. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact


jim2January 27th, 2012 at 3:11 pm

I did take the column line when I first read this in the paper.

Another interesting line of play, though, would be to ruff the opening lead, lead a small club as the column declarer did (presumably East followed small) to the AC, but then lead the 10C instead of ruffing a second heart.

For example, if East wins the second club and continues hearts, declarer accepts the tap, ruffs a club to set up the suit, ruffs the third heart, ruffs another club high and plays diamonds from the top.

The defense can prevail on the given layout, but declarer has lots of chances.

Howard Bigot-JohnsonJanuary 27th, 2012 at 4:34 pm

HBJ : Being only a mortal soul my first instinct is to park my club loser on a spade rather than set up a club winner for the defence. At trick two for different reasons I’m playing a small spade up to my queen relying on East to pop up with the king. Now dummy’s top spades can offer two discards (1C1H) to see the contract home.
But what if West turns up with the king of spades, to shift back a diamond ( ducked by East )…..because it seems to me there are still 3 losers : 1S, 1D if a second heart is ruffed and1C

jim2January 27th, 2012 at 4:43 pm


That was what led me to consider the club suit. For example, let the defenders swap black suit kings.

East cannot attack the spade entry for the clubs.

I wonder how play would have proceeded if East had put in the QC and declarer ducked, or if declarer had finessed the 10C!

It’s a very interesting hand.