Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, April 26th, 2012

A victory is twice itself when the achiever brings home full numbers.

William Shakespeare

East North
East-West ♠ 10 8 7
 A J 6 2
 Q 7 2
♣ K 4 3
West East
♠ Q J 9 4
 Q 9 7
 10 9 8 4
♣ Q 10
♠ K 3
 8 4
 K 6
♣ A 9 8 7 6 5 2
♠ A 6 5 2
 K 10 5 3
 A J 5 3
♣ J
South West North East
Dbl. 1* Dbl. 2♣
2 Pass Pass 3♣
3 Pass 3 NT Pass
4 All pass    



Yaniv Zack of Israel reached four hearts in today’s 2011 Yeh Brothers Cup deal. West led the club queen, ducked all around, then helpfully shifted to a spade to the king, ducked, followed by a spade to declarer’s ace. Now Zack passed the heart 10 successfully. He repeated the heart finesse, took the diamond finesse, cashed the diamond ace and queen, and crossruffed with his remaining trumps. He ended up taking six trump tricks, three diamond tricks and the spade ace. Had West covered the heart 10 with the queen at trick four, the crossruff fails. But there is a route to success — though I would take my hat off to anyone who found it!

When in dummy at trick four, lead a diamond. If East plays low, you put in the jack, draw a second round of trumps with the jack, and play a second diamond, ducking East’s king! East is endplayed, forced to lead a club, and you now have an extra winner and just enough entries to unscramble them. Equally elegant, if East puts up the diamond king on the first round to avoid this endplay, you win, cash the heart jack, ruff a club, take the heart king, and lead a diamond to the queen.

In the four-card ending, dummy has a card in each suit, while you hold two spades and two diamonds. You lead the club king and pitch a spade, forcing East to win and return a club, exercising a suicide squeeze on his partner as you pitch a second spade.

It would be easy to say that you described your hand at your previous turn and should not bid again. That would be overly pessimistic; in context, your hand is far more offensively oriented than the typical balanced heart raise. I cannot guarantee that reraising hearts will work — but equally, don't automatically assume all heart raises are created equal.


♠ A 6 5 2
 K 10 5 3
 A J 5 3
♣ J
South West North East
1 Pass 1 2♣
2 3♣ Pass 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


RogerMMay 10th, 2012 at 2:18 pm

Dear Mr. Wolff,

It’s very interesting that covering that trump 10 can have such an effect several tricks down the road. I wonder if I would have covered it at the table?

It made me consider the rules of thumb used when covering an honor, and that those rules are usually different in the trump suit. I know this is a subject that might fill a chapter in a book, but I wonder if you might have some advice for how those “rules” are different in the trump suit versus a side suit. Thanks, as always.

bobbywolffMay 10th, 2012 at 7:39 pm

Hi RogerM,

Just got through writing you some vague answers to your question and all of a sudden my 3 or 4 paragraphs just disappeared.

Summing up as best I can, because the defense is not nearly as privy to the assets of the declarer (looking at all 26 of his assets and then setting the tempo for his play) it is next to impossible to always defend properly (such as covering the 10 of trumps). Usually when declarer leads a trump honor he is fishing for who has the queen and it is not right for the defender to fall for that trap and cover. However, in this specific case the actual cover destroys the timing and prevents declarer from making the hand.

So be it, but there are (as least from a practical viewpoint) no way to predict it, much less visualize it. Bridge is the master and each hand is often an original experience.

Your curiosity is a good thing and I encourage you to seek and find what happens, but this particular hand is somewhat rare in what happens. Charge it up to how great the game really is with the various nuances which appear.

Thanks for writing. I apologize for not being of more help, but I do not have an answer anyone could benefit from.

RogerMMay 10th, 2012 at 10:19 pm

Yes, I have seen (and tried myself) those “fishing expeditions”, but since I have the 9 in this case, it might make me think that is not what the declarer is up to in this particular case.

I think the best advice I’ve seen on this is from Richard Pavlicek’s lesson on second hand play ( He has a number of rules of thumb to follow, but does say they often don’t apply in the trump suit…

bobbywolffMay 11th, 2012 at 2:00 pm

Hi Roger M,

The problem, at least as I see it, is that at the time of decision, how is it possible or even barely likely to be able to figure out that, by covering, the timing of this particular hand is thrown off to favor of the defense instead of the declarer?

A general rule of thumb would be to, by hesitation, not give one’s trump honor away (especially the queen), by a prolonged study, or for that matter even an obvious flicker, so Richard’s disclaimer about the trump suit has teeth, if only to make us all realize how difficult many decisions in bridge, especially on defense, can be, when most of the time it is more important to not give away where keys cards are located, rather than scientifically attempt to guess through the defense, while giving away an important location.

Obviously this hand is an exception, but unlike in Groucho Marx’s old time show, “You Bet Your Life” in bridge, a duck does not come down from the ceiling to tell anyone when a secret word is disclosed.