Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, September 30th, 2013

I once knew a man out of courtesy help a lame dog over a stile, and he for requital bit his fingers.

William Chillingworth

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


When today's deal came up at the table West led a top spade and East discouraged, hoping his partner would find the diamond shift. Instead West (who knew his side's spades were solid enough) continued with the spade jack and a third spade. Declarer ruffed and drew trumps, claiming 10 tricks.

When East asked his partner if he had considered shifting, West produced the reasonable response that he had interpreted his partner’s low spade at the first trick as count, suggesting an original holding of ace-third. As West said, he was worried that if he didn’t cash out the spades, one might go on the minors — and East could not overtake at the first trick in case the lead was from K-Q-x.

As a matter of fact, one of the defenders was grievously at fault here –and it was not West. When West leads the spade king, East should be able to work out where the defensive tricks are going to come from — but West cannot see through the backs of the cards. So it is up to East to plan the defense for his partner. He must overtake the opening lead with the ace and return a diamond.

The plan is for East to win the first trump with the ace, cross to his partner in spades, and receive a diamond ruff in return. West will know not to try to cash a third spade, since East’s defense has made it clear there is a ruff coming.

On this auction, nobody has really bid clubs. Your partner rates to have a balanced hand with three or four clubs. If he had more, your LHO might well have had enough length somewhere to transfer out of one no-trump. So lead your fourth-highest heart as your best bet — at least you know you have length there.


♠ J 6 5
 10 7 3 2
 K J 4
♣ J 8 4
South West North East
1♣ 1 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