Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, January 26th, 2015

I never resist temptation because I have found that things that are bad for me do not tempt me.

George Bernard Shaw

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

*0-1 controls


When declarer is clearly short of entries either to his hand or the dummy, sacrificing a trick to avoid providing declarer with the communications he needs may be a good investment.

In today’s deal North had just enough to raise his partner’s non-forcing response to game, against which West led the heart queen.

Declarer needed to bring in the club suit to make his contract. All would be well if the club ace was doubleton. But what if one defender held the ace twice-guarded? Could he perhaps be persuaded to release his ace prematurely?

South ducked the heart lead, won the heart continuation, and at trick three led the club queen. West pounced with the ace and returned another heart. Declarer won and continued with a second club. West played his 10, and of course South allowed it to hold. West could cash his fourth heart, but that was the fourth and final trick for the defense.

West must resist the urge to capture the club queen, surrendering a trick in the interests of killing the clubs. East will signal his doubleton, and South will no doubt continue with a club, perhaps ducking West’s low card in dummy, in the hope that East had begun life with ace-doubleton in clubs. But even if South decides that West holds the club ace and rises with dummy’s king, declarer is likely to come to no more than eight tricks unless he can see through the backs of the cards.

The choice is between leading a top spade (less attractive than usual because it involves leading into a strong hand, and thus the risk of losing a trick is somewhat increased) or of going passive with a club lead. The fact that partner rates to have values and has passed out one diamond is a slight suggestion his values are in the minors, so I would lead a club.


♠ K Q 6
 Q 7 3
 Q 7 5
♣ J 4 3 2
South West North East
Pass 1
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 2015. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact


Iain ClimieFebruary 9th, 2015 at 9:48 am

Hi Bobby,

Isn’t this a cas where west’s club holding is a trap? With CAxx and declarer having QJx, the defence is easier. I take it that South actually rebid 2N and North raised to 3, not as shown. Wretched gremlins!

The reasoning on the lead hand is instructive; I’d probably have had the SK on the table without much thought, though.



David WarheitFebruary 9th, 2015 at 9:52 am

I don’t think N had just enough to raise to game, but a) he didn’t have to, they were already there, and b) even with a S hand strong enough to bid 3NT, game is no great bargain.

What actually should have happened also raises the possibility that the cards could easily be seen through. S wins the 2d H and advances the CQ. W ducks, but not until after he twitches. So S continues with a C to the K. Since E played low-high on the 2 H tricks, it now appears somewhat more likely than not that W does not have 4S while the D finesse is only 50-50, so S ducks a S, wins the next trick, cashes SAK, HA & DA & then exits with a H to W who now must led a D up to S’s tenace. Yes, S wears glasses, but he refuses to tell anyone who his optician is.

Iain ClimieFebruary 9th, 2015 at 11:37 am

Hi David,

Nice analysis, but west wore glasses and south saw the cards reflected in them. It is a good line, though.


Bill CubleyFebruary 9th, 2015 at 1:48 pm

Oscar Wilde wrote it best about temptation.

“I can resist anything but temptation.”

Iain ClimieFebruary 9th, 2015 at 1:59 pm

GBS was made of sterner stuff – or he was just a miserable killljoy with an acid tongue. OW and GBS both Irish, of course, with eloquence and literacy associated with that nation.

bobby wolffFebruary 9th, 2015 at 3:08 pm

Hi Iain,

All three of your comments and resolutions, resonated.

Gremlins (which need to be researched and extermination sought), card reflections, and the king of spades lead in the LWTA.

The only one of doubt however, is the king of spades and although I would likely also lead it, perhaps it is because we fear choosing a lead, as no doubt Shakespeare would also agree, “bear the ills we have than to fly to others who we know not of” (no substantial substance behind the deuce of clubs).

And, oh my, are you correct about the eloquence and literacy of both those two Irishmen, Oscar and George.

bobby wolffFebruary 9th, 2015 at 3:31 pm

Hi David,

Yes, but since it is thought to be by some that “getting there is half the fun” the bidding wrongly mentioned, is not only incorrect, but lessens the enjoyment, and confuses the reader.

While your comment about throwing West in at the appropriate time, forcing West, after guessing the club holding (because of the twitch) and carefully eliminating his spade out card to be forced to lead away from his precious diamond queen might, as declarer, only be Clark Kent, a Daily Planet reporter, who also plays a mean game of bridge (aided by, or likely because of, his X-Ray vision).

bobby wolffFebruary 9th, 2015 at 3:37 pm

Hi Bill,

Yes, and what if Oscar met up with Mae West who was always inviting men “to come up and see me some time”. Might that time result in a stalemate? Chess, anyone?