Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, April 25th, 2014

The clever men at Oxford
Know all there is to be knowed.
But they none of them know one half as much
As intelligent Mr. Toad.

Kenneth Grahame

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


Have all the really good problems at bridge already been created? I think not, since when I read the daily bulletins at the national tournaments, I am constantly surprised at the variations that crop up on themes I thought I knew well.

Today’s deal contains a useful idea that I first saw in a problem by that great writer, Terence Reese. Once you have spotted the theme, I am sure you will remember the concept in the future.

Here you play four spades after a transfer auction, and the spade 10 is led. You take the spade ace and queen, finding the bad break, then unblock the spade jack as East discards a diamond and a heart. This is the best defense — East needs to keep enough small hearts as a possible force against declarer. Now it looks natural to play the heart ace, ruff a heart, then drive out the club ace. But the defenders will be able to win and cash three hearts, thanks to East’s thoughtful defense.

However, after three rounds of trump, declarer does have a counter to this potential problem. The winning play is a low heart from hand at trick four.

The best East can do is win and continue the attack on hearts. Declarer ruffs in dummy, then draws the last trump, discarding a diamond from hand. He next sets up the clubs by driving out the ace, after which his hand will be high, with the exception of a diamond loser at the end.

You have a straightforward choice: Do you bid two clubs, or three? The fact that you have soft cards in both red suits (and partner is sure to be short in one of them) means your cards will not be pulling their full weight, so a raise to two clubs should suffice.


♠ 5
 Q 9 7 6
 Q 9 8 2
♣ A 9 6 2
South West North East
Pass 1♣ Pass
1 Pass 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 2014. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact


Patrick CheuMay 10th, 2014 at 7:11 am

Hi Bobby,your thoughts would be much appreciated on the following hand-4S by South(pairs).North s432 hAQ96543 d2 cQJ South sAQ9875 hK8 dK103 cA3.West leads Ace diamonds and switches to JH won by KH.Pard ruffs a diamond and takes a spade finesse losing to KS and a second heart by West held declarer to 10 tricks,most pairs make+1 n one +2,hence joint bottom.I said why not Ace of spades and a spade…is that double dummy?West sK10 hJ10 dA875 cK10754 East sJ6 h72 dQJ963 c9862.Pard seems to not agree and said he would play Ace of spades and a spade if he could see the cards…I stand to be corrected.Regards~Patrick.

Patrick CheuMay 10th, 2014 at 3:19 pm

Hi Bobby,if West held JH singleton,would you play the hand any differently?

Bobby WolffMay 10th, 2014 at 4:38 pm

Hi Patrick,

I do slightly prefer your recommended play of the ace and one spade, simply because it appears that West, without a spade control (king) would usually switch to a club whether or not he held the king of clubs for fear of trumps being drawn (without loss) and hearts run.

Of course, it also becomes germane as to the caliber of your opponents, since if they are relative novices, anything is possible.

Sorry to not being able to give you better advice, but bridge sometimes is very difficult in being able to judge what to do, being determined by the strength or weakness of what the declarer knows about his opponents.

Patrick CheuMay 11th, 2014 at 6:49 am

Hi Bobby,thanks for your helpful advice and all that you do for this wonderful bridge blog.Best regards~Patrick.