Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Wednesday, October 9th, 2013

Fates cannot find out a capacity
Of hurting thee.
From Thee their lean dilemma, with blunt horn,
Shrinks, as the sick moon from the wholesome morn.

Richard Crashaw

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


This four-heart contract came along in the Championship Swiss Teams, the main event of the Brighton Summer Congress. West, Catherine Seale, had appreciated from the bidding that Nevena Senior, her partner, was likely to have a singleton diamond or a void, so she led a low one (for suit preference) to the jack and queen. South played a heart to dummy's queen and Nevena made the winning play of withholding her ace. Declarer next threw two clubs on the spade ace and king, then played a club. West could win and give East her diamond ruff. Senior next cashed her heart ace, removing dummy's last trump in the process, then played another club for a second diamond ruff. Well defended, for two down.

Despite the fine lead, declarer could have succeeded. Missing the trump ace, South may suspect there is a likely defensive diamond ruff to come, but there is nothing she can do to prevent it, and she needs club ruffs in dummy, so she should accept that fact and play a club at trick two.

This puts the defense in an unenviable position. West can win the club and deliver a diamond ruff. But if the continuation is ace and another heart, declarer is in control. The last trump is drawn; then three clubs are discarded on the top two spades and fourth diamond. And if East plays back a low heart to retain control, one club can be ruffed in dummy and the other two pitched on dummy’s spades.

In this position it looks more sensible to respond one no-trump than to introduce spades (and risk playing an unsatisfactory fit) or pass and let partner suffer in a 5-1 fit. While one can introduce spades here with only four, you would surely not care to do so with a relatively weak suit.


♠ Q 9 7 3
 9 8 7 5 2
♣ A K 6
South West North East
1♣ 1 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