Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, January 31st, 2013

Worn by the chain of years, without surprise,
The wise man welcomes thee [death], and leaves the glare
Of noisy sunshine gladly.

George Pellew

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


In today's deal South had no problem in driving to game once his partner raised his suit. Making game proved to be a far more challenging proposition. In the contract of four spades I suggest that it would be the norm rather than the exception to rely on the club finesse here, but declarer can do considerably better.

After the lead of the heart king is taken by the ace, declarer draws trump and exits with a second heart. The best the defenders can do is for West to win and lead a club through, realizing that declarer must have a hole in the club suit — and that if all he needed to do was set up clubs, he would not have given up a heart.

Rather than waste dummy’s club jack, declarer plays low from the board and wins in hand, then leads a diamond, covering West’s card. East can take his diamond king and ace, but then has nowhere to turn. A club gives up the whole suit, while a diamond or heart lets South discard his club loser and ruff on the board.

For this line of play to succeed, all declarer needs is to find both high diamonds with East. If West has one of the top diamonds and more than one club, declarer falls back on the club finesse. Effectively this play turns a 50-50 contract into one where you will succeed at least two times out of three.

Were you tempted to respond two hearts? You shouldn't yield to such temptation. To respond at the two-level as a passed hand, you need some combination of a sixth-card in your long suit, or more spade tolerance, or a better hand. With no fit for spades, do not encourage partner to rebid his suit unless he really wants to.


♠ 9
 9 8 6 3 2
 A K 8 7
♣ Q 10 5
South West North East
Pass Pass 1♠ 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


M JhaFebruary 15th, 2013 at 5:43 am

Dear Sir
A very good lesson on bidding. I have seen many a players bidding 2H on this type of hand. Since you have not said what South should bid, am I right if I bid 1NT over 1S, as passing the hand may miss a game??

bobby wolffFebruary 15th, 2013 at 2:48 pm

Hi M Jha,

Yes, by all means respond 1NT instead of 2 hearts or, of course, merely passing.

By keeping it open, your side has a chance to now find a fit, or if not, at least play in a contract which has an excellent chance of making.

Thanks for clearing up what I left up in the air.