Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Wednesday, December 26th, 2012

All we know is still infinitely less than all that still remains unknown.

William Harvey

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


Despite your opponents bidding and raising spades, you still manage to find your way to the heart game. Incidentally, do you like your partner's decision to drive to four hearts? I do. North knew you had made a vulnerable overcall on a suit headed by at most one top honor, so you had to have at least six cards in the suit, with approximately opening values. Therefore, bidding game was a sensible decision.

Not surprisingly West leads the spade king, then the queen and continues with a spade to East’s ace, which you ruff. When you draw trump you find East has three. How do you virtually guarantee your contract now?

It looks reasonable to try the minor-suit finesses, but if you do so, you can guarantee that the diamond finesse will lose – after all, what did east open on. Now you will be reduced to the very slim chance of the club king falling in two rounds to make your game.

There is a much better approach, based on the fact that East is known to have eight cards in the majors along with both minor-suit kings. Simple arithmetic demands that he must have either a singleton or doubleton king in one of those suits. So duck a diamond completely. Ruff the spade return, then on the next diamond, rise with the ace. Either East’s king will fall or he must have king singleton or doubleton in clubs, so you can pick up that suit without loss.

Your partner has made a slam-try, suggesting short clubs and huge diamond support. When the opponents compete to five clubs a double from you should suggest real defense to clubs not just a minimum opener (switch the heart queen and club three perhaps). Since a pass by you would be forcing it feels right to rebid five diamonds – suggesting good trump and low slam interest.


♠ 8 7 6
 K Q
 A Q 6 5 2
♣ J 8 3
South West North East
1 2♣ 4♣ 5♣

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 SJanuary 9th, 2013 at 5:39 pm

Hello Bobby,

I handled the main hand a little differently. After drawing trumps, I crossed to the AD, led the JC through, then led a club to the Q before cashing the AC and conceding a diamond. Was there a flaw in doing it this way? I can’t think of a lie that defeats it (assuming, of course, that West doesn’t show up with one of the kings).

Thank you, as always.

Iain ClimieJanuary 9th, 2013 at 6:01 pm

Hi Jeff,

I think East just covers the CJ so you have 2S, 1C and 1D to lose..



bobbywolffJanuary 9th, 2013 at 6:29 pm

Hi Jeff S. and Iain,

I’ll quote from Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar from 2nd Citizen after Mark Antony’s stirring “Friends, Romans, Countrymen speech eulogizing Caesar’s death. “Methinks there is much reason in what he (Iain) said”.

Although Iain’s advice contradicts the bridge bromide of 2nd hand low, it follows (in this instance) the applicable rule of covering an honor with an honor.

Bridge is a very simple game. All one has to do is follow a learned rule. The catch sometimes is to follow the one which is effective and applies.

Jeff SJanuary 9th, 2013 at 8:47 pm

Yes, much reason indeed. Thanks, guys. I see it now. And if he has three diamonds, small club to the Q and the AC drops the KC. Simple when it is explained to me often enough.

Bill CubleyJanuary 10th, 2013 at 5:18 pm

Thanks for the quote desciing my bridge knowledge. 😉

Shakespeare also wrote, Some men are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them.” The last well describes a good defense against me.