Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Saturday, May 5th, 2012

If you don't know where you are going, you will probably end up somewhere else.

Laurence Peter

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


When West leads the heart king against six spades, you must not ruff it with the spade two, or you will run into trouble when the trumps break 4-1. This is because you will have no entry to the South hand to draw East's last trump. If anyone holds four trumps, it will surely be East. So you should ruff at trick one with the spade king and continue with the spade queen and jack, West showing out on the second round. What now?

You can reasonably place West with 1-7 shape in the major suits, so nothing can be lost by cashing the diamond ace and king. If West follows to two diamonds, you will eventually play clubs from the top. You would then expect clubs to break 3-2 and — more importantly — there would be nothing you could do about a holding of jack-fourth with East. As it happens, it is West who shows out on the second diamond, suggesting that he has 1-7-1-4 shape. You play the club ace to take a look at East’s singleton, and then lead the spade two for a finesse of the nine. After drawing the last trump, you can confidently finesse the club 10.

Incidentally, if your trumps were A-8-6-5 in hand instead of your actual holding, you would again need to ruff high at trick one. This would boost your chances of success when West began with a singleton spade 10 or 9. You would still have the trump finesse available.

Despite the absence of controls and high cards, you are best off raising to two hearts now, rather than passing and hoping to get a second chance. You do have some playing strength, and raising here does not promise the earth. When both sides have a fit, that is the time to bid more, not less.


♠ 10 8 7 3
 Q 9 6
 Q J 10 9 4
♣ 4
South West North East
1♣ 1 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 WarheitMay 19th, 2012 at 10:52 am

After ruffing the opening lead and cashing the king-queen of spades, if both opponents follow, south should cash the ace of diamonds. If west follows, south should draw the last trump and trust that east does not have jack fourth of clubs. West couldn’t hold jack fourth of clubs because he is now known to hold 7 hearts, 2 spades & one diamond, leaving only 3 cards unaccounted for. If west shows out on the ace of diamonds, he must have 2-7-0-4 distribution. Cash one round of clubs, draw the last trump with the ace, and finesse the jack of clubs. Assuming again that east does not have jack fourth of clubs, this line of play loses only when west has 3-7-0-3 distribution which is wildly unlikely.

bobbywolffMay 19th, 2012 at 1:11 pm

Hi David,

You, as here, usually provide the finishing touch to discussing high-level counting hands providing concluding information about not discussed possibilities.

Your use of the words “wildly unlikely” at the death of your summary would pertain to a West hand which originally held: xxx, AKxxxxx, void, xxx and, (drum roll), FAILED to trump the ace of diamonds when offered the chance.

Not a flawed assumption I might add, but when playing against either a Benito Garozzo, a Bob Hamman, or some other bridge genius sitting West who has arrived (which could include several very top class par hand genius’ not specifically mentioned because not yet known by me and for me to name someone but not another is “wildly irresponsible”.

In any event when the time comes when it might happen to you and after West does not ruff the ace of diamonds do not be surprised if West, not East would follow to the 3rd round of trumps, forcing (or at least strongly suggesting to you to return to playing for the clubs to break and hoping for West to not have originally held xxx, AKQxxx,void, Jxxx and was always toying with you).