Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, June 20th, 2014

Desperation can make a person do surprising things.

Veronica Roth

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


When you feel confident that your side has a game on, but the opponents bid on to sacrifice in a suit that outranks yours, you have to resist the temptation to go chasing rainbows. If the best you can do is defeat their game, then make sure you go plus, rather than ruing what might have been.

In today’s deal West led the heart five against four spades doubled, and on winning with the ace, East returned a trump. He had failed to take into account the threat posed by dummy’s clubs. Even if South did not have the club queen, declarer would surely discard his losing diamonds on clubs if given the opportunity.

The only chance for the defense appears to be to establish two diamond winners before East’s club ace is knocked out. For that to work, West must hold the diamond jack. So, a low diamond at trick two may be desperate, but it looks to be the only chance, and when West turns up with the jack, the game fails.

The blame was not all East’s, though. West knew there was at most one heart trick coming for the defense. Since he had no re-entry, why not lead the heart king, taking a peek at dummy to gauge where next to attack? Had he done so, East would have followed with the heart queen, suit preference for the higher-ranked minor, and the deal would have been over.

When asked to express an opinion, I am rarely dogmatic (as my wife will attest), but I am generally reluctant to overcall at the two-level with only a moderate suit. This is especially so on hands with defense outside the trump suit, coupled with length in the opponents' suit. Passing is more discreet here. You may still get a second chance.


♠ K 10 7 3
 K 10 9
♣ K J 9 7 2
South West North East

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


Howard Bigot-JohnsonJuly 5th, 2014 at 6:37 pm

HBJ : In response to your analysis of the hand re your comments on Judy’s article……if East is forced to take the first heart trick , and is then looking to establish 2 diamond winners before the club Ace is knocked out…..why not play the diamond queen relying of course on partner holding the jack. No matter what declarer does defence will triumph with 4 tricks (2D,1H and 1C ).

Bobby WolffJuly 5th, 2014 at 8:39 pm


Yes, the queen of diamonds also defeats the hand, but there is little to choose between leading low or leading the queen except to find out sooner, if the hand is going down or not.

I guess it is also possible for South to have:


If so, then the small diamond, not the queen may still ring the bell. In any case and according to Carol Channing “diamonds are a bridge player’s best friend” or whatever.