Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Saturday, November 2nd, 2013

A goal without a plan is just a wish.

Antoine de Saint-Exupery

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


Against four spades West leads the heart two, his conventional agreement being partner leads low from any three-card holding. How should you plan the play?

At the table declarer put up the jack, and East won his king and shifted to the diamond jack. South tried for an endplay by playing three rounds of diamonds after drawing trumps, but West won and played the heart eight through. Whether declarer covered or not, the defenders had safe exits in the heart suit. In the end South could do no better than take the club finesse for his contract. It lost.

Declarer can do better — but he must play low from dummy at trick one. East wins the heart nine and shifts to the diamond jack. Declarer takes the ace and king, East unblocking the 10 and indicating an original two- or three-card diamond suit in the process.

Next, declarer cashes the spade king and queen, then exits with the diamond eight. West wins and has no palatable choice. A trump to dummy’s ace sees declarer win and then endplay East with the heart queen by discarding a club from hand. Declarer makes the same play if West shifts directly to hearts. A diamond by West gives a ruff-sluff, while a club is no better. If he plays a low club, dummy also plays low and East is endplayed. If he shifts to the club jack, dummy’s queen is played and East wins his king, but must then concede the 10th trick.

This is a forcing auction, and you have no reason not to bid your four-card suit. A double by you would now be takeout and might work if partner wanted to play for penalties, but would not be a good idea if your partner played you for four hearts.


♠ 6 3 2
 8 6 2
 Q 9 7 5
♣ J 7 6
South West North East
2♣ Pass
2 2♠ Pass 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


Farrell BrownNovember 16th, 2013 at 9:32 pm

November 16, 2013. If East trumps the second Club led from dummy as suggested in today’s column, it seems that the contract cannot be made. Please enlighten me.

jim2November 17th, 2013 at 12:43 am

Farrell Brown –

There is a two week delay between the appearance of a hand in print and its appearance here.

I am not Our Host but the answer, IIRC, is that (since East is the one long in trump) declarer can now draw trump and still have one left on the board to ruff the fourth round of clubs, hence setting up the fifth one.

Pete SagerNovember 17th, 2013 at 7:39 am

I agree with Farrell Brown. South must draw two rounds of trump before he can cash the club king. Then he will need two entries; one to set up the long club, the other to use it. He only has one entry left, thus I think the contract will fail.

jim2November 17th, 2013 at 1:29 pm

I confess that I read the column once yesterday at lunch and do not have it anymore so I am working on only my aged memory. Didn’t the board have three trump and three clubs headed by one honor, with declarer holding five to an honor in hand and needing four tricks from the suit?

Bobby WolffNovember 17th, 2013 at 4:48 pm

Hi Farrell, Pete and Jim2,

Since I do not keep a file of old hands and my column hands are written at least 6 months ago I need to wait for a copy of whichever hand is being discussed (which as Jim2 mentioned) is 2 weeks delayed while they are being presented on the internet.

Please forgive me for that fact and believe me, it is not done from my being evasive, but rather for my lack of understanding of what that hand is about.

Thanks for Jim2 for his accurate description of why the daily internet hands are different from the actual newspaper ones. And do not believe Jim2 when he discusses his aged memory. My vote would always be with him to remember like an elephant is rumored to, at least that has been my experience.

jim2November 18th, 2013 at 12:11 am

Sadly, I missed it!

See my reply in Sunday’s post.