Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Wednesday, January 16th, 2013

From childhood's hour I have not been
As others were — I have not seen
As others saw.

Edgar Allan Poe

South North
Neither ♠ J 9 5 4
 Q J 6
 A 10 5
♣ 10 7 2
West East
♠ K 7 3
 8 5
 Q J 9 6 3
♣ A 6 3
♠ Q 8 6 2
 K 8 7
♣ Q J 9 8 5
♠ A 10
 A K 10 7 4 3 2
 4 2
♣ K 4
South West North East
1 Pass 2 Pass
4 All pass    


The field in a pairs game generally played four hearts here and the traveler showed a string of scores of plus 50 to East-West, and yet when West leads the diamond queen against your heart game, you should really find a way to make the contract.

The mistake most declarers made was to win the lead in dummy and play a spade to the 10. West won, led a low diamond to his partner, and a club shift scuttled declarer’s chances.

Let’s revisit the play. Since you are not keen for East to be able to obtain the lead cheaply to lead a club through your king, you should play low from dummy on the first trick. East is welcome to overtake with the diamond king. If he pays this high price to gain the lead, the defenders can take their clubs, but you will finesse the diamond 10 subsequently, setting up a discard for your spade loser.

If East plays low at trick one, you win the next diamond with dummy’s ace and play a spade to the 10. If West wins with the king or queen, you will unblock the spade ace and later take a ruffing spade finesse through East after drawing trumps to set up a discard for one of your club losers. So long as the spade honors are split, the defenders cannot prevent this line of play. And if both spade honors are on your right, you still have the club finesse available.

Your partner has real extras and, in the first instance, is looking for no-trump if you can offer a heart stopper. Here, you have a decent hand for the bidding and a decent heart stopper — just enough to jump to three no-trump. Without the diamond 10 and heart jack, you would bid two no-trump.


♠ J 9 5 4
 Q J 6
 A 10 5
♣ 10 7 2
South West North East
1 Pass
1♠ Pass 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 2013. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact


Alex AlonJanuary 30th, 2013 at 11:58 am

Dear Mr. Wolf,
I like the books by Edgar Allan Poe, so i took the time to cover the EW hands and look for something that others would not see. I found the winning line 🙂
Again thank you for the wonderful blog.

Alex Alon – Israel

bobby wolffJanuary 30th, 2013 at 2:52 pm

Hi Alex,

Thanks for the kind words and congratulations for choosing the diamond duck at trick one.

No doubt you are betting on the Baltimore RAVENS in the big game next Sunday. NEVERMORE!

I wonder if a bottle of his favorite whiskey is still delivered to his grave by a friend to commemorate his every birthday? And so the pendulum sways.

Iain ClimieJanuary 30th, 2013 at 5:55 pm

I wonder if West thought his diamond holding was the PITs or even the masque of the red death? Give east the DJ and West the D8 and now a diamond lead wouldn’t leave East unable to get the lead. The D9 is the curse of Scotland; here west must have cursed the DJ for his perfectly reasonable lead at T1. Too good a diamond holding Ushered in this bad luck – sorry.


bobby wolffJanuary 30th, 2013 at 6:11 pm

Hi Iain,

Yes, the diamond spots claimed a victim when West decided on the accepted lead of the queen instead of 4th best from that holding, but look at it optimistically and rejoice in Edgar Allan Poe’s quotation, all because of the lead of the diamond queen.

Our report is that this hand was real, but even if it was contrived, it might be important as a learning experience and the cost, if any, was paid by others, allowing us to get over their misfortunes at the relative speed of light. Regards to the nine of diamonds (AKA by you and others as the curse of Scotland) who has suffered in silence for all these years.