Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, September 24th, 2013

Greatness is a spiritual condition worthy to excite love, interest, and admiration.

Matthew Arnold

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


In today's deal, when North doubled a weak two in pass-out seat, South's bid of three hearts promised constructive values since the partnership was playing Lebensohl. With fewer values South would first have bid two no-trump, simply to show a weak hand. After North now optimistically drove to the heart slam, West led the spade two, an obvious singleton.

Had South’s club jack been the diamond jack, both of his spade losers could have been discarded. As it was, South had to resort to desperate measures.

The lead was won with dummy’s ace, and South’s first wish — that the heart 10 would come down doubleton so that two clubs could be ruffed in dummy — failed to materialize. So declarer drew West’s last trump and was about to settle for the club finesse when he was struck with a better idea.

Instead, he cashed the club king and three rounds of diamonds, discarding a losing spade from hand, then led dummy’s fourth diamond. When East failed to follow, South jettisoned his last spade, and West was forced to win the trick. Declarer knew that West now had only clubs left and would be forced to play into his tenace.

If East had shown up with the fourth diamond, declarer would have ruffed the trick and exited with a low club. That would have forced West to win and play back a club into declarer’s tenace, allowing both of dummy’s spades to be discarded.

Since you have a respectable raise of your partner's suit, you certainly have enough to go to game, and with weak spades and a diamond honor, you should not be afraid of playing three no-trump, even if you have a 5-3 spade fit. Raise to three no-trump with confidence.


♠ 9 6 4
 9 5 4 3
 K 6
♣ A J 7 6
South West North East
1 1♠ Pass
2♠ Pass 2 NT 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


jim2October 8th, 2013 at 11:45 am

Our Host has tough space limitations in print (where this hand is originally published).

In the very last sentence, the reason the low club was certain to work at the end was because East had shown six spades, two hearts, and “now” four diamonds leaving just a singleton club. This, then, was why declarer had cashed the club king _before_ leading the fourth diamond: to remove that possible singleton so that West would have to be the one that won the club trick if East did turn out to follow suit to the fourth diamond.

Bobby WolffOctober 8th, 2013 at 12:30 pm

Hi Jim2,

Thanks for your elaboration regarding how declarer knew and why, together with the practical space limitations which newspapers demand for inclusion in their syndicated columns.

However, you cost me side income from readers who would bet me that I cannot prove why that is so. Oh well, I probably was not going to include you with dividing the profits so I really do not blame you for enlightening them.

As a matter of fact, thanks for taking the time to write and explain.

Patrick CheuOctober 8th, 2013 at 12:34 pm

Hi Bobby n Jim2,another lovely hand highlighting the need to look for the extra chance before finessing(last resort if need be).Jim2 thoroughness in not missing any detail in the analysis certainly adds to the enjoyment of the whole hand..:) Regards~Patrick.

Bobby WolffOctober 8th, 2013 at 12:45 pm

Hi Patrick,

Thanks for your accurate summation.

However Jim2’s analysis is not exactly a detail, but actually the whole reason for doing so. I appreciate your big heart and concern for not embarrassing me.

Too often I expect too much from my casual readers.

jim2October 8th, 2013 at 11:44 pm