Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, November 17th, 2014

So double was his pains, so double be his praise.

Edmund Spenser

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


Bidding after partner's overcall is one of the few areas of bidding in which there are two perfectly rational approaches to be taken. One school uses new-suit responses by an unpassed hand as forcing for one round. Players in this school would bid two spades with the South cards. Where this treatment is not in use, South must start with a cue-bid to show strength and can then bid spades to set up a force.

Against four spades West led the diamond king then the ace, and shifted accurately to the club four. Without looking at the East and West cards, how would you set about the play so as to minimize the risk to your game?

A plan to guard against all bad breaks is to win the club at trick three, cash the heart ace and king, then ruff a heart in dummy, return to your hand with a diamond ruff, and ruff the last heart. This leaves declarer with all trumps, and the spots are such that he will have at most one loser, the queen.

This line involves no jeopardy, since on the bidding, the auction tells you that East will be unable to overruff hearts. Meanwhile, if West ruffs the second heart, declarer can overruff in dummy and play winning clubs — West, with at most five diamonds, cannot also be in a position to ruff an early club.

Note that if declarer cashes only one high heart before taking the ruffs in dummy, the 4-1 trump break prevents declarer from ever scoring the remaining high heart.

There is no safe lead with a hand like this one, but you have two possible sequences to lead from. I'd choose to lead a heart rather than a club (and I would do that if my hearts and clubs were switched) simply because the opponents have not explored for a major-suit fit. Thus I am more likely to hit partner's length. Honor-fourth in spades is a poor third choice behind the other leads.


♠ Q 7 6 5
 Q J 3
 K 10 3
♣ 10 9 4
South West North East
Pass Pass 1 NT
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