Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Saturday, November 9th, 2013

Lottery tickets are a surtax on desperation.

Douglas Coupland

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

*Two-plus cards, balanced, or clubs


The following deal came from the under-25 encounter between Norway and Poland at the White House Junior Championship, played this spring in the Witte Huis in Amsterdam.

Against four spades West led the club nine, which systemically meant either that the club nine was a singleton or that West had the club 10 as well. (With nine-doubleton, West would have led his lower card.)

Since there was only one club entry to the dummy for a single heart play toward the South hand, the contract was in theory unmakeable. But declarer spotted a chance when he dropped his jack under East’s club ace.

East shifted to a low diamond, ruffed by South. Now declarer led his low club and finessed dummy’s eight. When that held, South played a heart to his king, overtook his club queen with dummy’s king, and called for another heart. East rose with his ace and led another diamond, but declarer ruffed and played his heart queen, ruffed low by West and overruffed by dummy.

South trumped a diamond in his hand and ruffed a heart on the board (West discarding his diamond ace) and ruffed a diamond with his spade ace. Finally he led his last heart to guarantee one more trump trick, his 10th winner.

West had missed an opportunity to defeat the contract. When South led his low club at trick three, West had to put in his 10. This is a play that is rare in theory, and even less frequently found at the table.

The cue-bid in response to a takeout double is normally looking for a major-suit fit, so I would bid three hearts here, rather than three diamonds. The cue-bid is not a game-force at the two-level, but is forcing to suit agreement. But here, since you can hardly agree on a suit and stay out of game, the cue-bid becomes a game-force.


♠ 9 7
 A J 9 7
 K 10 7 3
♣ A 3 2
South West North East
Dbl. Pass 2♠ 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


David WarheitNovember 23rd, 2013 at 9:57 am

1. While your comment as to the rarity of the play W needs to make in order to defeat the contract is correct, W has to ask himself why S is playing clubs in such a peculiar way (dropping the J under the A & then showing up with a small C). The answer to that question should not be hard to find.

2. East also erred. If he simply ducks the opening lead, now S will only have one entry to dummy, & against best defense by W, will actually have no entries. Frankly, I find the duck of the opening lead by E even easier than suggested play by W.

jim2November 23rd, 2013 at 1:47 pm

I was going to make the same comment as David Warheit’s second one above.

Herreman RJanuary 15th, 2014 at 9:19 am

Yes, should be easy to duck 1st trick….