Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, November 15th, 2012

Destiny waits alike for the free man as well as him enslaved by another's might.


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

*Diamonds, with a fit for hearts


A brief but eventful auction ended with South in five hearts, against which West led the club king, ruffed in the dummy. Now a trump to the ace revealed the 3-0 break.

How would you continue to play the contract?

Suppose you ruff another club, cash dummy’s bare trump queen, and play a diamond. To make the contract on that line, you will eventually need to find West with the spade ace, so you can reach dummy with the spade king.

A far safer way to play the contract is to lead the diamond 10 at trick three.

Let’s say that West ducks the first round of diamonds and wins the second.

If the defenders play spades now, you will be able to draw trump, ending in the dummy, and enjoy the diamond suit.

West will probably force the dummy with a second round of clubs instead. You ruff with dummy’s penultimate trump, leaving the dummy with the bare queen and East still holding jack-10 of trump.

To neutralize East’s trump, you then lead winning diamonds from dummy. Whenever East ruffs in, you will overruff with the king and return to dummy with the trump queen, drawing East’s last trump. You can then play the remaining diamonds, throwing all of your spade losers, to claim an overtrick.

East could have taken his spade ace at the time West decided to force the dummy, but the contract would still have been impregnable.

Even though you seem to be right at the minimum end of your range for a response, you absolutely cannot afford to pass here. With the boss suit, you must introduce it into the auction right now, or else you may never find your side's best fit.


♠ A 10 8 6 4
 J 10 9
 6 2
♣ 10 8 6
South West North East
1 1

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


Jeff SNovember 29th, 2012 at 5:46 pm

Given the strong bidding of his partner (double and then a 5C follow-up with no encouragement) and apparently unbalanced distribution, could E have considered that his hand might be a good enough fit to bid 6C at the close? It falls one short against a diamond lead, but succeeds against a heart lead.

Would you have taken the shot when vulnerable? Or am I just reasoning backwards from being able to see all the hands?

Jane ANovember 29th, 2012 at 7:52 pm

I thought the same thing, and if the final contract is six clubs, north should lead a high diamond, right? I am thinking yes because a heart void seems quite likely.

How is San Francisco? I hope you and Judy are enjoying the national and catching up with friends.

Bobby WolffNovember 29th, 2012 at 8:27 pm

Hi Jeff,

Yours is a sophisticated opinion concerning East’s option of not selling out to 5 hearts and instead bid 6 clubs.

My objective answer is to rely on my judgment of partner’s tendencies rather than any random decision based on scientific bidding. IMO, West’s decison to double
initially is a minority choice, not often the option chosen. At least to me, I would venture a simple 5 clubs, perhaps only 4 against certain opponents, but definitely preferring to bid game. Others like strawberry, not chocolate or vanilla, and to those, I doff my fedora, but, at the same time, find it hard to adopt my judgment to their choices.

Forgive my waffling, and I will go on to say that bidding one more is usually my choice rather than being conservative and trying to be precise. The window for success by passing (or doubling) is just too small for my relatively big body to fit.

Bobby WolffNovember 29th, 2012 at 8:36 pm

Hi the lovely JaneA,

Yes, my judgment suggests your opinion of leading a diamond and for the reason given, is right on and deserves kudos.

Judy and I will be playing today in the finals of a rather large event named the Senior Mixed Pair. Since both of us feel fine and are looking forward to today’s competition we are losing our excuses in case we do not fare well. Such is the psychology ever present in bridge competition, but rest assured that Judy’s and my combined ages merely confirms the fact that together and apart we have lost hundreds of events and, in spite of that misfortune continue to survive well.

Thanks for your well wishes and we continue to value you as an exceptionally good friend.

Jane ANovember 30th, 2012 at 1:49 am

Go get ’em! You are both up to the challenge. You don’t need luck, but I wish you good luck anyway.

Thanks for the kind words. I might actually learn this game some day.