Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Saturday, March 17th, 2012

But I've grown thoughtful now. And you have lost
Your early-morning freshness of surprise
At being so utterly mine.

Siegfried Sassoon

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


Today's deal has several points of interest. First, look at the auction: does North's pass of four hearts describe his hand? I'd say yes. The pass IS forcing, and I prefer to play double by North as suggesting some defense, with a pass implicitly weak.

South now has to guess whether to bid six spades at his second turn — not unreasonable since any working queen in the North hand gives slam good play — or to go low with a call of four spades. Even the pessimistic action is quite high enough today.

On the lead of the heart king South ruffs and plays the spade ace, discovering the bad break. Now he must be careful, since if he drives out the trump queen, the defenders can force him and he never scores a third club trick. If he plays ace, king and a third club, the defenders lead a fourth club and score a second trump winner. Playing three rounds of diamonds before clubs simply lets East win and lead hearts again, and declarer will be defeated.

The winning line at trick three is simple and elegant — but not easy to find at the table. Declarer must lead the club jack from hand, giving the defenders the awkward choice of winning and providing South with an entry to dummy for the trump finesse, or of ducking.

If West does play low, declarer can simply drive out the spade queen and has five trump tricks and five side-suit winners.

If your partnership is not permitted to jump in spades after the double to show a pre-emptive raise, you can be sure that you will not be applying the appropriate degree of pressure to the opponents when you have a fit and a weak hand. Here it must be best to use a jump to two no-trump for a limit raise in spades and make a jump in spades with a hand like this.


♠ Q 9 4 3
 9 7 2
 Q J 8 7
♣ 4 3
South West North East
1♠ Dbl.

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