Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, September 26th, 2013

We ne'er can be
Made happy by compulsion.

Samuel Taylor Coleridge

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


One of the most dangerous emotions for a bridge player is that of premature euphoria. It is easy to be on your guard when you can see traps set all around you, but it is more difficult to remain alert when the road seems very clear.

Declarer succeeded in bringing home four spades today after West led the heart queen. He won the trick in dummy and played the spade king, which East took, then cashed his heart winner before exiting with a second trump. At this point declarer could have been forgiven for relying on the diamond finesse, which succeeds if either minor-suit honor is well-placed, or if diamonds split. As the cards lie, this line would be doomed to failure.

South, however, saw a little further into the hand. He cashed the diamond ace first, then came back to hand with a trump and led a diamond to dummy’s queen. East could take his king, but was endplayed. When he returned a heart, it allowed declarer to ruff in dummy and discard his club loser.

The point of the hand is that if the diamond finesse succeeds, you do not need to take it at once. You have enough entries to lead up to the queen-jack twice later on and get a discard for your potential club loser. Had the diamond queen held, declarer would have led a club to the ace and another diamond toward the jack. He could always fall back on the club finesse eventually if nothing else worked.

The safest way into the auction here is to double rather than to bid two hearts. Yes, you might miss a 5-3 fit, but equally a 4-4 club fit might play better than an eight- or seven-card heart fit. Your objective in overcalling here is not to bid game, but to hope to find a fit, or to push the opponents up. Doubling is the best way to do that.


♠ A 4
 K 8 7 4 3
 K 5
♣ Q 9 8 3
South West North East
1 Pass 1♠

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


Iain ClimieOctober 10th, 2013 at 3:35 pm

Hi Bobby,

Wasn’t East too busy here? If he plays a trump back, south has rather more work to do e.g. cash DA spade to hand, D to Q loses and east has a safe heart exit. A heart at T4 is needed, west wins and plays a C but south keeps the A J in dummy and plays as described.



Bobby WolffOctober 10th, 2013 at 7:30 pm

Hi Iain,

Yes, if East is reading declarer’s mail he will defend exactly as you suggest.

However, the hill East creates is not too high for a climber and South should rise to the task by declaring the hand as you suggest.

All in all an example of an opportunity accepted, and whether it was necessary or not (East having the Kx of diamonds and the club finesse offside) it should make a hardworking and straight thinking declarer proud to have played it that way. Don’t you think?

Thanks for your comments which always seem to go to the heart of the matter.