Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, September 2nd, 2013

Of two evils the least should be chosen.


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


One secret of defense is to play partner for the minimum that he needs to let you beat the contract. On a hand like today's the auction has told you before dummy comes down that you won't find many values in your partner's hand — both opponents appear to have opening bids and you have a 15-count.

Against four hearts you lead the diamond king, on which partner plays the nine — suggesting an original holding of a doubleton or singleton — and declarer follows with the five. Plan the defense.

Your best chance is to find your partner with the heart jack or queen. If he has a trump honor and uses it wisely, you can create a fourth defensive trick from nowhere. You cash the diamond queen at trick two, hoping that partner will show out, but both East and South follow suit. No matter; you next play the diamond three.

If the layout is as shown in the diagram and partner remembers to ruff in with the jack (he should, since you are known to have the diamond ace) there is no way for declarer to succeed. He must overruff, but now you will come to both a trump trick and a black king.

Note that if you don’t try to promote a trump but exit passively with a heart at trick three, declarer draws trump and runs the diamond jack, pitching a club, after which he has the rest with the help of the spade finesse.

It is hard to reconstruct the full hand, but dummy rates to have short spades and both minors, and declarer to have some degree of diamond fit and partner perhaps to have both majors — and maybe only two or three clubs. A low-spade lead might set up tricks for our side as fast as anything, but the heart nine is far safer, if less aggressive.


♠ Q 9 2
 9 8 4
 6 3 2
♣ Q 10 6 5
South West North East
1 Dbl. 1♠
Pass 2♣ Pass 2 NT
All 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


David WarheitSeptember 16th, 2013 at 9:26 am

It should read “Of two evils the LESSER should be chosen”, but then I don’t speak Latin so maybe I’m wrong.

Bobby WolffSeptember 16th, 2013 at 9:58 am

Hi David,

Does anyone really speak Latin these days, and if so, which nationality do those who do, represent?

If there are only two choices, should lesser always be used instead of least, which should imply three or more?

I would ask Cicero if I was able, but sadly my only experience with that name was a former dog of mine (now in dog heaven where all dogs go) who was quite philosophical in his habits, but my interpretation of his yelping might not convince others that he really barked those words.

jim2September 16th, 2013 at 12:05 pm

I prefer this one:

“Between two evils, I always pick the one I never tried before.”

― Mae West

Bobby WolffSeptember 16th, 2013 at 1:26 pm

Hi Jim2,

“Why don’t you come up and see me some time”, said she.