Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Saturday, February 8th, 2014

Hope never abandons you; you abandon it.

George Weinberg

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

*Game-forcing raise of hearts


After South opened one heart, North's two-no-trump call showed a forcing heart raise, while South's jump to game showed a minimum with no shortage. North now simply bid the small slam with some confidence, but the duplication of values and mirror-image shapes of the two hands made slam a parlous spot.

Can you find a legitimate line to bring home the bacon? The answer lies in your club spots, coupled with the fact that the opponents’ spades are divided 5-2, so they have no flexibility as to who will win the third round of that suit.

After the lead of the spade jack, you plan to eliminate the side-suits and hope to receive something to your advantage. Win the spade ace, then take the heart ace and queen. Cash the spade king, noting East’s queen, then play off the diamond ace and king, and lead out the club jack. You are hoping that West will duck, and in such situations leading the lower of touching honors is more likely to persuade West to play low. If he does not cover, you can endplay him with the third round of spades to lead clubs for you. However, if he covers the club jack, you can succeed if you play East to hold the club 10. (If spades are 5-2, you expect East to be longer in clubs.) Win the club ace, then cash the club queen and endplay East with a club to give you a ruff-sluff, on which your losing spade goes away.

Your partner rates to have real extras, but if he had a second suit, he would surely have bid it rather than redouble. Given your initial pass, your partner will not expect too much from you if you raise to two spades now, and your major-suit holdings suggest bidding rather than passing. So I would bid two spades.


♠ Q 4
 J 10 8 5 4 3
♣ 10 7 5 4
South West North East
1♠ Pass
Pass Dbl. Rdbl. 2

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 2014. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact


David WarheitFebruary 22nd, 2014 at 10:13 am

South should win the SA, cash HAQ, DAK, NOT CASH SK, but lead CJ at trick 6. If W does not cover, play SK and endplay W with the 3d round of S. If he does cover, win CA. You are now faced with a choice: a) play a small S, endplaying E if he has the C10 and started with Qx of S, or b) play SK and a third round of S, endplaying W if he has the C10. Or somewhat more simply, S can duck a S at trick 6 to E Q, endplaying him, provided, of course, that he has C10 and W CK. Of course, E can avoid either endplay by dumping the SQ on the first round of S (which he should do, since it is not hard for him to see getting endplayed with the Q), in which case the suggested line of play will work just fine

bobby wolffFebruary 22nd, 2014 at 3:35 pm

Hi David,

Thanks for the complete analysis with all the possible options spelled out.

Many times, there are two requirements when operating a trick gaining ploy:

1. Gathering the evidence before choosing the most likely winning combination of cards necessary.

2. Divining the execution to what distribution of the cards is necessary to succeed and then springing the trap.

The above are the tools of trade for the great technical bridge player. A learned exercise, usually gained from experience and a firm knowledge of numeracy and what the high-level part of our game is all about.

ArunFebruary 24th, 2014 at 12:19 pm

As David has said, CJ is the key play – what you really hope that LHO will not cover – avoiding making of any guesses. CJ is better than CQ – missing the C10 LHO will almost certainly not cover and when he does you can be pretty sure he has the 10.

LHO also sees the possibility of a throw in and can deduce that ducking can lead to a throw in if declarer holds the CQ.