Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, June 26th, 2012

A dwarf standing on the shoulders of a giant may see farther than the giant himself.

Robert Burton

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


The North hand is somewhat difficult to judge when South has shown a very strong hand with hearts. The second-round diamond control does not look valuable, so maybe signing off at every turn is a reasonable approach.

As South, you of course do not know about the wasted high cards opposite. When you bid slam, you’d better make it if you don’t want to hear complaints about your overbidding, and underplaying the hand. What should be your thoughts when you receive the lead of the club 10?

The idea here should be to avoid taking the spade finesse if at all possible. On the given layout your plan should be to endplay West when he has no winning exit card.

After winning the first trick with the club ace, you cross to dummy with the trump nine and ruff the diamond five high. Next you cash the club king and ruff the club four, eliminating that suit. You proceed to ruff dummy’s diamond seven high, which allows you to return to dummy by leading the trump six to dummy’s eight. Now comes the key play — you will lead the diamond king and discard the spade five from hand.

After West wins this trick with the ace, he has no good return. A spade exit will run to your ace-queen while a fourth round of diamonds will see you ruff in dummy and discard the spade queen from hand. Either way, you make 12 tricks.

Your five-card trump support and outside king make your hand just worth a raise to three hearts, which does not promise all that much. With the same hand but a queen and a jack instead of a king, you might bid four hearts. That call would in essence show a double negative but with trump support.


♠ 7 3 2
 9 8 7 5 4
 K 7 5
♣ 7 2
South West North East
2♣ Pass
2 Pass 2 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


David WarheitJuly 10th, 2012 at 10:20 am

I’m a good friend of the king of diamonds, and I want to tell you, he was really hurt when you used the word “wasted” to describe him. Actually, as you pointed out, he was the most valuable card in dummy! After I explained to him how you actually pointed that out, although not in so many words, he was mollified and accepted your apology.

Iain ClimieJuly 10th, 2012 at 11:54 am

It could be worse – “wasted” in the UK often means appallingly drunk so at least there was no hint of that.


Iain Climie.

jim2July 10th, 2012 at 12:17 pm

Channeling Robert Darvas! Love it!

I must confess that I could not have resisted drawing trump by leading to the four, insyead of the nine.

bobby wolffJuly 10th, 2012 at 2:46 pm

Hi David, Iain, and Jim2,

“Wasted is what wasted does”.

With adventures while delving “Right Through the Pack”, the right of passage from the true expert is to make use of hidden assets which sometimes, to the amazement of others, can be uncovered, producing the key trick.

Leading one’s deuce of trumps to the four in dummy, instead of the six to the eight, could be thought of as, a congratulatory salute to partner, instead of rubbing it in to the opponent’s sorrow.

However, before the declarer bows for his final gloat by now triumphantly leading the maligned diamond king, Alfred Hitchcock would have had East now cover with the ace, later explaining that perhaps he should have alerted that his partner’s bid was preemptive, so what did his failed declarer expect.

Moral of the story, “It is difficult to remain good friends with the opponents, especially if they are worthy and, like you, do not cotton to losing”.

The epilogue is that declarer should then immediately excuse himself to use that UK word (often the same meaning in the USA) to mean that very thing in whatever language he chooses.

jim2July 10th, 2012 at 3:22 pm

Good one!

The preemptive West might still have the decency to be lacking also the KS when declarer allows the AD to hold the trick.