Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, June 3rd, 2014

Oh I get by with a little help from my friends.

Lennon and McCartney

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


When you have to tackle an awkward suit, it may be a good idea to restrict your opponents' options. That way, you may enlist their assistance, however unwilling it might be.

In today’s deal, North’s cue-bid showed a limit raise to three spades after the intervention. South had very little to spare, but did have some extra shape, so made a game-try. Now North, with such good trumps, was not prepared to stay out of game, despite his unpromising hearts.

Against four spades West cashed the club king, and South ruffed the club continuation. He next drew trumps in two rounds, then set about the hearts by playing low to the nine. In a vacuum, it is probably the best way to tackle the suit to avoid the loss of three tricks. But East won with the 10 and returned a diamond. Now declarer was unable to avoid the loss of two further heart tricks, for a one-trick set.

Declarer should have done better. Before he tackled hearts, ruffing dummy’s last club and cashing the diamonds would have limited East’s options when in with the heart 10. A diamond return gives declarer a ruff-sluff, allowing a losing heart to depart from dummy. East’s best return would have been to continue with the heart three. It looks as if declarer is still on a guess, but West’s vulnerable overcall suggests that he is more likely than his partner to hold the heart ace. So playing low from hand seems the right play, and it works today.

Whenever the opponents escape from a penalty double into a suit where you have four cards, you should plan to double for penalty unless your hand is remarkably weak for defense. By contrast, this hand is perfectly average in terms of shape and high cards, and the weak trump spots are not a huge drawback, so you should feel happy to double.


♠ K Q 9 8 6
 K 6 5 2
 A J 10
♣ 3
South West North East
1♠ 2♣ Pass Pass
Dbl. Pass Pass 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