Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, February 21st, 2012

Even when the wished end's denied,
Yet while the busy means are plied,
They bring their own reward.

Robert Burns

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


Sometimes it takes a precise order of play to succeed in a contract, and in today's deal you need to have your wits about you in four spades.

West led the heart king to South’s ace. If the game is to make, there is only one card for declarer to play at trick two — the spade 10. Had a spade been played to the jack or queen instead, declarer would lack the transportation to repeat the finesse. When the 10 holds, South finesses again in spades, then cashes the spade ace.

While it would not be wrong to cash the club ace next, it becomes essential to play a diamond to the 10. (If instead a diamond is played to the king, West will withhold the ace, and as it is vital not only to set up diamonds but also to access them, South will lack the entries to do both.)

Since it would clearly do West no good to duck, West must win with the diamond jack and return a heart. As the diamond ace is still out, South cannot afford to use his last trump to ruff this. So South must discard a diamond.

The defense now has no winning options. West can try another heart, but declarer is able to ruff this in dummy, then overtake dummy’s second diamond. Whether West takes the ace on this round or the next, declarer still has a trump with which to access the established diamonds.

Facing a negative double, you might look no further than your four-card spade suit and bid one spade. That would undervalue your assets considerably. You should jump to two spades, which is invitational and not forcing, suggesting a shapely hand with some extras, which you have.


♠ A Q J 3
 3 2
 9 7
♣ A K 8 6 2
South West North East
1♣ 1 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


Howard Bigot-JohnsonMarch 6th, 2012 at 12:48 pm

HBJ : hello there again….and yet again good lesson in handling the KQ10 holding when only having one entry to that hand.
The forced taking of 10 clearly puts declarer in control because he can now lead the suit again without a care in the world….. whether West ducks the queen or not. The spade entry to get in and run off the suit has been duly preserved.
Yet all these hands you produce certainly remind us all of the true value of thinking ahead and logical thinking, providing ideal material for a much needed book on the techniques of good declarer play and defence. How many read your blog and of course the original posts I do not know, but 1000’s more ought to because they are so instructive.

bobby wolffMarch 6th, 2012 at 2:14 pm


And a bouquet of roses to you for your very kind and enthusiastic words.

In what seemingly is present in every successful endeavor, there are several factors directly involved.

First, there is the generous contribution of my syndicate, United Features of New York City and UClick, their business connection, who, for no apparent gain have always thought it a good idea to, with two weeks delayed, furnish the columns free of charge, which can only help publicize our wonderful game to thousands of readers from all around the world who would otherwise have no practical way to be able to read about an organized discussion about the wonders of playing bridge.

Second, to my thoughtful, talented, and sensational to work with, small organization who do most of the hard work necessary to get the column ready for presentation and follow through with enabling it to be shown on the internet for all who are interested to be able to read.

Third, to all the Aces on Bridge readers, who comment, express ideas and questions, exhibit sheer enthusiasm and often offer challenging heretofor not mentioned exceptions for all who play the game to share.

Finally, dear HBJ, thank you for always contributing, and above all, showing such great respect for all players who ethically play the game as it has always been intended to play.

All of us together, at least to my view, are examples of the World Bridge Federations well known motto and creed, “Bridge For Peace”.

RaduOctober 20th, 2012 at 2:09 pm

This looks like a nice position for West to try a deception play by winning the first diamond with the ace and continuing with a heart. While at IMPs it shouldn’t work, at other forms of scoring it’s very likely that the declarer will ruff the second round of hearts, cross in clubs and repeat the (marked) diamond finesse.