Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Saturday, March 3rd, 2012

What can we reason, but from what we know?

Alexander Pope

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


In today's deal you are East defending three no-trump on an uninformative auction. West leads the diamond jack, and you have to decide whether to put up your queen or play low. What should you do and why?

The lead leaves room for your partner to hold seven points at most. If he started out with the K-J-10 of diamonds, there will not be room for him to hold much else, and it will be hard to beat the game.

However, if your partner started with J-10-9-x-x in diamonds and he has either the club king plus the heart jack, or both the king and jack of hearts, then you can succeed by putting up the diamond queen at the first trick. If declarer takes this, you will win your club ace and clear diamonds while partner still has a club entry. So South will duck and you must then switch to a heart.

It will do declarer no good to duck the heart trick, though this is his best chance. When he wins the second heart in dummy and plays a club, you must duck the trick. Your partner should win his king and continue hearts, and now declarer will lose five tricks.

Note that if you play low and leave your partner on play at the end of the first trick when declarer ducks, your partner will surely continue the attack on diamonds. Now declarer can go after clubs. The defense cannot both set up and cash diamonds, so the contract will come home.

With an eight-count and both majors, you should use Stayman. You might after all make game in any of three denominations, and if you do have a fit, you'd expect either major to play better than no-trump. Without the heart intermediates, you might take a pessimistic view and let one no-trump go.


♠ 8 6 4 3
 Q 10 9 7
 Q 7
♣ A 9 2
South West North East
1 NT 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