Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Wednesday, September 10th, 2014

Profit is sweet, even if it comes from deception.


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


Against your contract of three no-trump, West leads the spade four and East plays the 10. What is your best chance?

At the table South saw no reason to do anything but play on hearts. He led a heart to his king and West’s ace. That player cleared spades, and declarer tested diamonds. When they didn’t break, he had only seven top winners. So he knocked out the club ace, and West cashed his spade winners for down one.

Declarer had taken an overly simplistic approach to the hand. A better way to consider the deal is to realize that if diamonds break 3-3, you can succeed by knocking out the club ace, but if they are 4-2, you need to sneak a trick through in hearts first.

Win the opening lead and cross to a diamond (better to play to the ace rather than the queen) to play a heart toward the dummy. An expert defender might possibly work out to fly up with his ace, but not everyone is an expert. If your heart queen holds the trick, you are home. You switch your attention to clubs and can insure three tricks in each minor to go with the guaranteed three major-suit winners. That makes nine tricks.

Meanwhile, if West wins his heart ace at trick three, you are no worse off than before. You will win the spade return, and with three heart tricks in the bag, you just need the diamond break to make your game.

When you have a hand that was going to compete to the two-level, you can overbid by a level in competition — though you do not have to do so. Here, with the diamond ace-queen working overtime, you can compete to three hearts, conscious that this is a slight overbid. But if you pass, the terrorists win.


♠ J 8 2
 K J 9 3
 A Q 7
♣ K 10 3
South West North East
1♣ Pass 1 3

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