Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, March 15th, 2012

Men must be decided on what they will not do, and then they are able to act with vigor in what they ought to do.


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


Today's deal is all about focusing on the possible things that can go wrong in your four-heart game. Some of them will doom you whatever you do; others will present you with a roadblock that you can hurdle. See which problems you think you can overcome. Of course, the points at issue are bad breaks in the red suits.

Against four hearts the defenders lead the two top spades and shift to the club nine. What now? If diamonds break or the jack falls singleton, you will have nothing to worry about but possible bad trump breaks. What can you do about bad diamond breaks? Not much if West has the shortage, but what if East is the one with short diamonds?

The answer is that a 4-1 diamond break will not be fatal — so long as you are careful. Win the club ace, play the diamond queen, then lead the diamond three toward the king.

If diamonds prove to be 3-2, draw three rounds of trump and hope they are no worse than 4-2. But when as here East has short diamonds, he cannot profitably ruff in, so he may as well pitch a spade.

You win the diamond king, cross to dummy with the heart ace, and lead another diamond. Again East discards, so you win the ace. Now you can ruff a diamond in dummy. Whether East overruffs with his trump trick or discards, you will lose only one trump trick and have 10 winners.

With only one feeble spade stop and no diamond fit, you are best advised to pass three diamonds and hope your partner can find a way home. In this auction, if your partner had wanted to force to game, he could have cue-bid two spades at his second turn, so you should assume he has nothing to spare for his jump.


♠ Q 8 5 4
 J 10 9 5
♣ K J 5 4
South West North East
1 1♠
Dbl. Pass 3 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


jim2March 29th, 2012 at 2:07 pm

If I were declarer and followed the column line, the Theory suggests that the W-E hands would morph to be:

AK1096 — Q854
J92 ——– 1054
J975 —— 4
9 ———- KJ543

East would ruff the second diamond and return a club.

bobby wolffMarch 29th, 2012 at 5:40 pm

Hi Jim2,

Since it is very unlikely that West, the spade bidder is also in possession of 4 diamonds, I agree with your migration theory as to the wisdom of attempting to safety play this particular hand.

Also, from a realistic viewpoint there is no reason what so ever to believe West does not have the club king (not that I would finesse it) or any other club holding including the seen 9 of clubs. Always at this point in the hand, the defense (at least a high-level one) will not play the normal card, so it becomes every player on his own, making the possibility of West holding short clubs no more than the normal possibilities.

It is also always interesting that a majority of bridge hands have so many discussion points, it will keep both of us busy just contemplating them.