Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, August 4th, 2014

To take command, one must first create the illusion that command is already yours.

Denise Domning

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


As I have often remarked, one cannot persuade one's opponents not to do something just because one earnestly wants them not to do it. If you want to prevent them from making a play, you have to work a little harder at it than that.

Take today’s deal, where South reaches four spades on an unopposed auction, after North’s slightly pushy raise to game. Your partner leads the diamond 10. Declarer plays low from dummy at trick one, you encourage, and declarer takes the diamond ace and advances a low heart, to the heart eight from your partner, and dummy’s 10. Plan the defense.

When declarer leads a heart, partner’s heart eight shows an even number, almost certainly in this case a four-card suit. You must duck this trick, to prevent declarer getting two heart tricks later on.

Of course you don’t want to let declarer get to dummy to lead out the spade queen and capture your king. But since you cannot prevent South from taking the spade finesse sooner or later, you might as well not give him anything in hearts to which he is not entitled.

If you duck trick two, declarer will now take the spade finesse and run his trumps, then exit with the heart queen. However so long as the defense retain their club guard, they can take the heart queen and lead out winning diamonds at every turn. Declarer will eventually have to concede three minor-suit losers to go with the heart ace, for one down.

This auction is always one where declarer will be struggling for tricks (dummy rates to have no more than 6 HCP) and if you had a passive lead, you might well make it. Since you don't, the case for a spade lead is that this rates to be declarer's shortage, and even if you are wrong, spades surely won't be running for declarer.


♠ Q 9 6 2
 A J 8 5
 8 5
♣ K 5 3
South West North East
Pass 1♠ Pass 2 NT
All 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


Herreman BobAugust 22nd, 2014 at 12:16 pm

Who pushed ?
Isn’t 3spades also pushy ?

bobby wolffAugust 22nd, 2014 at 4:55 pm

Hi Bob,

Yes, a 3 spade bid by South is slightly pushy and between NS they were aggressive, but I, for one, (North) would raise 3 to 4 should my partner rebid 3 rather than 2.

However, since South had those marvelous solid spade interior cards, a slight overbid should be condoned as all a part of tough minded battle plans by aggressive players.

Do not EVER think that bridge is most always a planned scientific effort, rather than a trench battle. As a general rule it is probably better, when faced with a choice, to be consistently aggressive than not.

At any rate, by doing so, more pressure is exerted on their opponents (especially at IMPs or rubber bridge) to have to defend carefully rather than to be able to take that hand off.

North did have that very valuable queen of spades, but the jacks held were overvalued, except, of course for the jack of hearts, which was pulling its weight.

“Ours is not to reason why, but rather to only do or die”.

Thanks for your question.