Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, December 18th, 2012

A man travels the world over in search of what he needs and returns home to find it.

George Moore

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

*Two of the five key-cards from the four aces and trump king


South correctly opened one spade here, because with five losers he thought he would need two cover cards or some trump support to make game. Things turned out well when his partner was able to give a limit raise in spades. After cue-bidding and checking for key cards, he found himself in six spades on the lead of the heart jack. Put yourself in his shoes:. How do you plan to make 12 tricks? Whom do you want to play for the diamond ace?

After winning the heart lead, you should draw trump with the ace and queen, then lead the diamond seven toward the dummy. When West holds the diamond ace, as here, he is caught on the horns of a dilemma, also known as a “Morton’s Fork.” If he takes his diamond ace, the eventual discard on the diamond king will take care of the club queen.

West’s choice of playing low is no better. After the diamond king wins, you will throw a diamond from dummy on the third round of hearts. When you exit with the diamond queen to West’s ace, he is endplayed. A red-suit return will allow you to ruff in dummy and throw the club queen from hand, while a club back will guarantee two tricks in the suit.

This same position does not arise if you play East for the diamond ace; if he had that card, he could duck the first round of diamonds, then win his ace and lead a club through the ace-queen.

Your partner's failure to raise spades denies four — in some circles, where support doubles are used, it denies three. Since he clearly has relatively short spades and diamonds, he must have real clubs and a minimum hand, so compete to three clubs.


♠ A K 7 5
 7 5
 K 8 3
♣ 9 7 6 5
South West North East
1♣ 1
1♠ 2 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


Patrick CheuJanuary 1st, 2013 at 10:02 am

Hi Bobby, on this hand, we have to assume the ace of diamonds is in the west hand, hence the play of low diamond from the queen by declarer.Aces for king as the saying goes…and if east has the ace of diamonds, the club finesse being the last resort.Bridge books help us recognise hand play patterns, the diamond play is the key to the whole hand,maybe it should be titled-Sidestepping The Ace-Best Regards-Patrick.

bobbywolffJanuary 1st, 2013 at 12:17 pm

Hi Patrick,

First, Happy New Year and all the best to you and yours for another 365 days of good health and winning bridge.

Yes, your name of “Sidestepping the Ace” is on target and aptly used by you to describe its advantage.

However, the name of Morton’s Fork was derived from an episode in English history, when Cardinal Morton, Chancellor under King Henry VII, habitually extracted money from wealthy London merchants for the royal treasury (sounds like the new US tax plan). His approach was that, if the merchants lived ostentatiously, it became obvious that they had sufficient income to spare some for the king. Alternatively, if they lived frugally, they must be saving substantially and therefore could also afford to contribute to the king’s coffers.

With either case the victims (in bridge, EW in this case) got impaled on Morton’s Fork.

And still another side benefit of the immediate above name was that the opponents, after having this done to them more than once, could loudly exclaim, “By golly, we got forked again”!

Take your choice of either name, but in both cases, it is a breathtaking bridge gambit.

Patrick CheuJanuary 1st, 2013 at 1:34 pm

Hi Bobby, Best Wishes for the New Year to you and Judy.Thanks for stimulating our minds with your bridge blogs!Look forward to more of the same for 2013. Best Regards-Patrick.