Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, April 12th, 2013

His conduct still right, with his argument wrong.

Oliver Goldsmith

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


The Rueful Rabbit, who had recently taken up two-over-one game-forcing, was proud to show off his mastery of the methods. His two-club response was forcing to game, and he could rebid his clubs to show extras. When North removed three no-trump to four clubs, it was incumbent upon the Rabbit to cuebid four diamonds, but when he simply raised to game, North had no choice but to pass.

On the lead of the spade 10, North put down his dummy somewhat apprehensively and asked what contract they should have been in. The Rabbit said “six,” and dummy absentmindedly played the spade six! The stickler for the rules in the East seat insisted on the six being played, and the Rabbit did not feel inclined to argue.

Remarkably, though, from that point on the contract could not be defeated – since even if East could work out to discard and West shifts to a diamond, declarer simply wins and draws trumps, then crosses to the heart ace, plays the spade ace followed by the queen, and pitches two diamonds on these tricks. The loser-on-loser play gets rid of all of declarer’s diamonds.

However, if declarer takes the spade ace at the first trick, East will ruff and play on diamonds to leave declarer without recourse. If declarer covers with the spade queen at trick one, he will then have to read the position very well to come home with 11 tricks.

Facing a weak two-bid, at any vulnerability except unfavorable, you do not have enough to drive to game. The simplest way to show values and explore the most practical games is to bid two spades. This is natural and forcing for one round if not to game and will give partner room to define his hand further.


♠ A Q J 7 3
 A K 3
 9 7 2
♣ Q 6
South West North East
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


John Howard GibsonApril 26th, 2013 at 3:03 pm

HBJ : As the cards lay, at trick 3 declarer can run 6 clubs…..and West is in a fix. He has to keep 2 spades (K10) but what other 3 cards?
If he pitches his other 2 diamonds, declarer can cash out 2 top hearts, throw him in with the heart queen , only for West to be end played in spades.
If West pitches a heart it is also game, set and match.
Surely, this is one of those intriguing hands where several lines of play might work ?

jim2April 26th, 2013 at 3:43 pm


How are you saying the first two tricks went?

Jeff SApril 26th, 2013 at 6:42 pm

I think he is saying the first trick was to the QS and a trump with a diamond return (and that he meant that West has to keep the K9, not the K10). And he is right! (I think – experience shows it is usually the kiss of death if I like your line).

West can discard four spades and a diamond on the first five clubs, but that sixth discard sinks him. As South knows very soon into the hand that West started with five red cards, what better line is there than to hope he started with the QH? If he has the Q, I don’t think it even matters how many hearts he started with as he can only keep three non-spades.

Very nice, HBJ.

Jeff SApril 26th, 2013 at 6:43 pm

Sorry, it should say started with six red cards, but has five left after trick 2.

jim2April 26th, 2013 at 6:58 pm

Well, if HBJ is talking about the play after the Q/JS is ruffed at Trick #1, I believe that is what the column meant with its last sentence.

Note that if West comes down to SK9 and HQ74, then declarer can endplay in either major.

Jeff SApril 26th, 2013 at 7:26 pm

I think you are right, Jim. He says if you use the AS on the first trick you are sunk, otherwise you have to read the cards very well. But now I am confused again (back in my comfort zone!).

I don’t see what could be done if East had three hearts to the Q. You can’t put pressure on him, can you? And either one could hold a master diamond at that point without being squeezed. Plus, if the Q is in the short hand, it will drop whoever has it.

Is there really any other way to play it than what HBJ suggested? Where did the card reading enter into it? I know the saying about staying quiet and being thought a fool – but you can only learn so much just listening without opening your mouth and removing all doubt…

jim2April 26th, 2013 at 9:20 pm

I agree, Jeff, especially since it seems fair to assume with only one defender having spades that declarer will know how many West has at the end. But I am not an expert. Maybe Our Host will weigh in here.

bobbywolffApril 27th, 2013 at 12:32 pm

Hi Everyone,

Please excuse my absence from Friday as I got engulfed in other obligations.

Yes HBJ is right-on with his discussion about, after finessing the spade at trick one, the squeeze which minces West is as he describes.

And yes, Jim2, it is what the column was referring to with its last sentence.

Also, typically Victor Mollo and his WC (wonderful character) the Rueful Rabbit triumphs again, defying what good bridge is about, but, of course, letting his rabbit’s foot luck him into it.

Who, among, us would not ruff the six of spades from dummy, if played? However HBJ discovered the way to make the hand, if declarer finessed the jack at trick one. Perhaps HBJ can hear the applause he deserves from around the world for his keen analysis.

To Jeff S., I do not think that this hand is foolproof against other distributions, such as the Qxx of hearts with East unless RR ducks the opening spade lead and has it ruffed. Kudos are due both to HBJ and RR, but for the obvious different reasons, both starting with L, leverage created by HBJ and luck by RR.