Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, March 8th, 2012

Why do you walk through the fields in gloves …
Missing so much and so much?

Frances Cornford

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


One of the techniques all bridge players must become familiar with is the avoidance play. To keep the danger hand off lead, declarer may have to go to great lengths. In today's deal no trick needs to be sacrificed, but declarer does need to be careful.

Against four hearts West leads the diamond king to dummy’s ace. Where is your 10th winner coming from, and what precautions do you need to take to prevent the defenders from thwarting your plans?

Rather than relying on the club finesse, you should try to develop a spade trick if you can, which requires spades to be 3-3. But you also need to try to do so without letting West on lead for a club switch. To accomplish this, first you lead the heart jack to your queen. A diamond is ruffed high, and then you lead the heart nine to your 10 and advance the spade nine, planning to let it run.

West must cover with the queen, and you win the spade ace, East unblocking the 10, Now you play the heart two to the eight in your hand, then advance the spade two. You can cover West’s card, and East must now win the defense’s spade trick. Consequently, the contract is safe, spades having split.

If you start spades by leading a high one from dummy, then East unblocks a spade honor and West can now arrange to win his side’s spade trick for the lethal club play.

Your partner's redouble shows extra values and asks you to describe your hand appropriately at your next turn — typically by supporting your partner with extra trump or doubling the opponents with suitable defense. Here you have a balanced hand and no diamond support, so have nothing to say. You must pass and hope your partner knows what to do next.


♠ J 10 7
 7 6 4
 9 4
♣ A Q 10 8 4
South West North East
1 Pass
1 NT Dbl. Rdbl. 2

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


David WarheitMarch 22nd, 2012 at 9:44 am

East-west can make 9 tricks in diamonds, so if east bids 4 clubs over north’s double and east-west wind up at 4 diamonds doubled, even though they are vulnerable, it is only -200,and if north-south bid to 4 hearts, a club lead puts paid to that. So my question: do you think east should have bid 4 clubs? After all, he is reasonably certain that north has the club king, and his partner is likely short in clubs. On the other hand, doubled down 2 would be disastrous. On the other other hand, partner should have close to 7 tricks for opening a vulnerable 3-bid, and he has at least 2, so it seems they shouldn’t be down more than 1.

jim2March 22nd, 2012 at 12:14 pm

David –

I am not the expert, but I doubt four diamonds doubled would ever be the final contract. North has too much strength and South has four decent hearts. The only questions I have would be if West would correct to four diamonds after South passes four clubs (I think yes) and if North would double again or bid four hearts (I think four hearts, North can see the king of clubs and South can convert if 4-1-4-4).

Now, if E-W bid on to 5D, a penalty double would get them +500 instead of +420.

I do like that 4C bid, though! Very clever.

bobby wolffMarch 22nd, 2012 at 2:02 pm

Hi Guys,

Dream away, but to chance a lead director with that collection of very little with the East hand is courting disaster.

Yes, vulnerable 3 bids often have a short suit, along with a solidity to the bid suit, but what if it is more likely, clubs (since his partner has more of those), 2 things immediately happen and that is at least 1 more loser in a diamond contract and what about the fortuitous queen of spades with neither opponents, North, but more likely South, being short enough to get another defensive trick via a ruff. Already we are approaching a four digit set and only to take a save versus a non vulnerable game.

Furthermore, our preempting partner, being on our side, may well look for his short suit to lead anyway, hoping to get lucky.

Better, while discussing preempts and their ramifications to discuss a long ago (probably Bols liquor bridge tip) by Zia who stated while playing as declarer against a vulnerable preemptor who leads his suit while not having the ace king of it, since he probably had a singleton somewhere (or less likely a void) and didn’t choose to lead it, probably has a singleton instead in whatever suit is trump.

Now that is something to ponder rather than wild speculation on being brilliant and tiptoeing between the poisonous tulips of a 4 club lead director with the wrong hand for it.

David WarheitMarch 23rd, 2012 at 7:00 am

Well, the bottom line is you’re d-amned if you do & d-mned if you don’t. If east bids 4 clubs, the final contract will probably be 4 hearts by north, which makes. On the other hand, if he doesn’t, the final contract is 4 hearts by south which makes because his partner doesn’t know to lead a club at trick one. Some days you just shouldn’t get out of bed.

bobby wolffMarch 24th, 2012 at 3:10 pm

Hi David,

In love, rather than bridge, a song was written about it, “That’s the story of, that’s the glory of love”. Those situations are ever present in bridge and thus the on spot player must make decisions and hope his choices are winning.

Remember the difference between making a delicate decision will either be called a daring one, if successful, but foolhearty, if not.

Always be true to oneself and nowhere is it more likely than making either a brave bid or instead playing as a declarer or defender, based on your own special judgment.

There is room in the game for those gambling souls who venture out, but if so, and at important tournaments and high levels,”Just Be Right” and you will have nothing left to worry about. For a real life experience watch the semi-finals and finals of the Vanderbilt, presented by Bridge Base Online (BBO) going on today and tomorrow and you will, no doubt, witness such tactics and it is free to all who want to kibitz.