Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, February 28th, 2012

A throw of the dice will never abolish chance.

Stephane Mallarme

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

*Second negative: 0-4 HCP


Declarer's approach to his contract can vary widely, depending on whether he is playing matchpoints or teams. At matchpoints declarer may risk his contract to hunt for overtricks, while at teams or at rubber, the main objective is to make the contract.

To focus on the different techniques, consider four spades here on repeated club leads. South ruffs, and at matchpoints 99 percent of players would cash the two top spades, then start on the hearts. They would generally bring home 10 or 11 tricks, unaware that they had jeopardized their contract.

However, the danger here is that trumps break 4-1, with a probability of one in four. If so, then when declarer drives out the trump queen, a club return exhausts declarer of trump unless the heart queen falls doubleton.

But even protecting yourself against the bad trump break is not enough. South must also avoid a heart ruff when the player with four trumps has a small doubleton heart. The winning line is most unusual: declarer must attack the major suits by leading the spade jack at trick three! West will win and force declarer to ruff another club. Now declarer must leave trumps alone (dummy’s trump can take care of the next club) and make his second imaginative play — he leads the heart jack, to leave the defenders without recourse. By contrast, if he play hearts from the top, East can win the heart queen and give his partner a ruff.

Your absence of a legitimate diamond stopper should not prevent you from bidding one no-trump, which is the value call for your hand, suggesting 8-11 HCP. If your partner produces a second suit, you may be in business; until then, stay low.


♠ 6
 Q 7 6 4
 10 5 4 2
♣ A K Q 6
South West North East
1 1♠ 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