Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, October 11th, 2012

The nicest child I ever knew
Was Charles Augustus Fortescue.
He never lost his cap, or tore
His stockings or his pinafore.

Hilaire Belloc

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


Today's deal from last year's Bermuda Bowl features the match between the young USA-2 squad and Bulgaria. It shows both U.S. pairs combining nicely for a gain.

Against four hearts both Wests led a small club. John Hurd realized that if the club finesse was right he really did not need to take it. He put up dummy’s club ace, won the second trick with his heart jack, and continued with the heart seven. Victor Aronov took his ace and led a small spade, declarer getting it right by playing the jack. West won the trick with his ace and shifted to the diamond 10, but declarer won the trick, played a trump, and claimed. He still had to lose a club trick when diamonds did not behave, but he had his contract.

In the other room the Bulgarian declarer played dummy’s club queen at trick one and could no longer make his contract. Justin Lall played his club king and switched to the diamond two, the only card to defeat the contract. Declarer won the trick with dummy’s queen and played a heart. Lall ducked this trick, then won the next trick with his heart ace to switch to a small spade. Seeing the ruff coming, declarer took his only legitimate chance by playing his king. Joe Grue won with his ace and returned a diamond for his partner to ruff. East now cashed the spade queen for two down.

In competition your partner's two-heart bid shows extras. A reversion to three clubs by you would be nonforcing. With a good hand you could cuebid, but that might deny a clear direction. Here you know you want to play clubs, so jump to four clubs, which is forcing. You can cuebid later.


♠ Q 8 7 4 3
 A 4 3
♣ K 10 6 2
South West North East
1♣ Pass
1♠ 2 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


Iain ClimieOctober 25th, 2012 at 11:15 am

Hi Mr. Wolff,

John Hurd did well, but I’m not totally sure about the logic. If west leads the C7 (or even 9) then the finesse is probably wrong but I’d be worried that I’ve just decked a cold contract if East wins the HA to play a spade if West has the CK and I either misguess the spades (or west has SAQ). What am I missing?


Iain Climie

bobby wolffOctober 25th, 2012 at 1:48 pm

Hi Iain,

You both asked and answered your own question in the same paragraph.

You are missing nothing. John happened to do right when he foiled the hand with the singleton diamond by refusing the club finesse. His confidence in determining the king of clubs to be wrong (probably by the denomination of the card led) only slightly improved his chances, but since West would have chosen a spade, holding the queen instead of the ace, he backed his judgment with the confidence of relative youth, or so it seems.

I have always shied away from making such big decisions (it would be difficult to explain going set if the king of clubs was on, the AQ of spades was off, and the diamonds were normally split, but sometimes, what some might feel as anti-percentage plays work, letting his action then be called daring instead of foolhardy.

To be fair, the declarer may have feared a singleton or doubleton club on lead as more likely than it appeared to us.

David desJardinsNovember 5th, 2012 at 7:27 am

The auction does seem to suggest a diamond lead. I’d lead the 9 or the 10.