Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Wednesday, October 2nd, 2013

But satire, ever moral, ever new,
Delights the reader and instructs him, too.

Nicolas Boileau-Despreaux

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


I am always happy to receive full-deal problems from my readers. Ray Dufour posed today's declarer-play problem. He asked how to play three no-trump on the lead of the heart five, and how declarer's strategy would vary, depending on what happened in the early tricks.

The first issue is what to play from dummy at trick one. It looks right to put up the queen — if you don’t, you cannot get any use out of that card. Let’s say the queen loses to the ace and the heart three comes back. Now it looks likely that hearts were 4-4, so you win the heart king (for fear of a spade shift) and run the club 10. If West puts up the queen, duck it. If East had returned a high heart spot (so that the suit appeared to be 5-3), duck the second heart, win the third, and try to sneak the club 10 past West — hoping he will forget to cover if he began with queen-third of clubs. If he covers, you will need the clubs to split 2-2.

Things are rather more complicated if the heart queen holds the first trick. Your possession of the heart four and two means that you can assume that if the heart three is played by East, then hearts are 4-4. So lead a low club from dummy. If you judge from East’s play to the first trick that hearts are 5-3, then play clubs from the top and hope the suit breaks.

Some play that one should pass over the double with no club stopper and wait for your partner to ask again by redoubling. A more mainstream position is to pass with moderate clubs, redouble with great clubs, and otherwise respond as if the opponents had not acted. So you would bid two spades now and expect your partner to check on a club stopper if he felt the need to do so.


♠ A J 7 2
 K 4 2
 A Q 8 5
♣ J 10
South West North East
1 NT Pass 2♣ Dbl.

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