Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, July 11th, 2014

While you live,
Drink! — for once dead, you never shall return.

Edward FitzGerald

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


Earlier this year eight pairs participated in the Belgian open team trials for the European Championships in Opatija, Croatia, that concluded last week. The trials were played over 14 sessions, where each session consisted of three matches against every other table. The top three pairs would qualify. With one day (two sessions) remaining, everything seemed decided as Philippe Coenraets and Steven De Donder, in third place, had a 43 VIP margin over fourth place. Patrick Bocken and Olivier Neve, however, did manage to come back in a direct encounter with Steven and Philippe. Neve, sitting South, brought home this five-club contract elegantly.

After the lead of the diamond king and ace (East showing an odd number), West switched to the spade queen. Neve took the ace and realized that East rated to have seven spades and three diamonds, and thus would be short in either hearts or clubs. Since North-South had nine clubs and seven hearts between them, it was far more likely that East’s shortage was in clubs.

So South cashed just one top club, played the heart ace and queen, then finessed the heart 10 as East helplessly discarded. Now he could take the heart king to discard a spade, ruff a spade back to hand, and finally could take the marked trump finesse for an impressive plus 600.

Note that if declarer uses his heart entry to take the early finesse in trumps, he can never get back to hand to take the heart finesse.

There is a real temptation to raise to three hearts, but if you play New Minor Forcing (where a bid of two clubs is forcing and the way you start describing most invitational or game-forcing hands), then this sequence is weak and denies invitational values with both majors. North should have less than invitational values, and you should therefore pass and hope to go plus.


♠ Q 7
 J 8 5 4
 A K Q 2
♣ Q 10 5
South West North East
1 Pass 1♠ Pass
1 NT Pass 2 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