Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, February 14th, 2014

Invention breeds invention.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

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


Today's deal was sent to me by a friend; I'm guessing it is an apocryphal story, but start by covering up the East-West hands and plan the play before reading on. In four hearts you receive the lead of a top diamond, followed by a shift to the spade jack. How do you plan the play?

The problem is that if you simply win the spade in dummy and play the heart king, West may be able to win, put his partner in with a diamond, and get a spade ruff. Can you see a way around the problem?

Knowing that West has most of the outstanding honor cards (and it is unlikely to cost anything anyway), you can find the Scissors Coup of winning the spade and playing three rounds of clubs. When East plays low on the third, you discard your diamond, thus swopping one loser for another and denying East an entry.

This is a good play, but most experts would expect to find it. However, there is a twist to the tale. With the cards lying as they do today, West can win the club queen and play another spade. A trick later he will get in with the trump ace and give his partner a spade ruff to defeat what appears to be the world’s easiest contract!

Of course if you claim to be the defender who found this ingenious shift, please write to the column and collect your brilliancy prize.

When the opponents have agreed on a fit, as they implicitly have done here, the first double by your partnership should always be takeout. The double does not guarantee five spades, so a case could be made for bidding two diamonds, but my instincts are to raise to two spades to let partner know I have a minimum balanced hand with three trumps.


♠ J 8 3
 A 2
 K Q J 10 3
♣ Q 8 4
South West North East
1 Pass 1♠ Dbl.
Pass 2♣ Dbl. 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 2014. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact


Bob KiblerFebruary 28th, 2014 at 11:39 am

In BWTA, are you not playing support redoubles?

jim2February 28th, 2014 at 1:10 pm

Stan Halluk –

Are you going to repeat your post from two weeks ago concerning this hand?

(Or, did you get your question answered since then?)

bobby wolffFebruary 28th, 2014 at 1:56 pm

Hi Bob,

No, concerning the BWTA we tend to not play unannounced conventions and while that proposed convention may work OK here, the natural meaning of the redouble (17+) will be lost. I would rather indicate to partner that it is our hand so do something intelligent next, rather than show exactly 3 spades which can be suggested by raising immediately or by passing first and then raising.

Support doubles have an important downside since after using one, when partner now does not continue in spades but perhaps supports partner’s minor, the defense is gifted by then knowing how many of the bid suit is held by partner which sometimes is crucial in both bidding and defense.

At least to me, the knowledge given to wily opponents is sometimes every bit as important, or more so as notifying partner since, especially at the low levels, one’s competitive judgment usually determines the result.

bobby wolffFebruary 28th, 2014 at 2:00 pm

Hi Jim2,

I vaguely remember that a question was asked, but do not recall how it was handled. If still important, please have either you or Stan re ask it. Thanks.

Bob KiblerMarch 1st, 2014 at 11:37 am

Mr. Wolff,

Thanks for the reply! I learned a valuable lesson.