Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, February 12th, 2015

Minorities are individuals or groups of individuals especially qualified. The masses are the collection of people not specially qualified.

Jose Ortega y Gasset

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

*Two plus cards

**4 or 5 Spades


Today's deal determined who would take the vital eighth qualifying spot in the NEC tournament last year and advance to the knock-out phase.

In one room where declarer was part of a Dutch-Russian team the opening lead of the heart ace did not paralyze declarer, and South made 11 tricks in a canter.

In our featured room clubs were an unbid suit, so Bas Drijver led one, and the defense played two rounds of clubs. Declarer elected to draw a couple of rounds of trump and take a diamond finesse, allowing the defenders to take the club ruff, which left declarer with just nine tricks, and no qualifying place.

Declarer should have come home by simply taking the diamond finesse at trick three. Although the defenders can take a ruff, you get to ruff a diamond low and a diamond high when the suit breaks 4-3 long on your right. When the outstanding trumps are 2-2 you can now draw them all without loss.

Declarer still had a chance after drawing two rounds of trumps. Instead of playing diamonds, cash the two clubs — if West ruffs he will be endplayed. But if he doesn’t ruff what does he discard? If he pitches two hearts you play to ruff a diamond in hand. If he pitches a heart and a diamond to stop threaten an overruff, take the diamond finesse, ruff the heart return, then draw the last trump. When you cash the diamond ace, dummy’s diamond 7-4 will be worth a trick against East’s 9-3!

This is partly a matter of style. From my perspective, raising partner with three trumps is perfectly acceptable, so long as you have a ruffing value, and the alternative of one no-trump is unattractive. Here raising to two spades looks best, since your small doubleton diamond looks anti-positional.


♠ A 10 3
 K 9 8 7
 10 5
♣ K Q 8 2
South West North East
1♣ Pass 1♠ 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


jim2February 26th, 2015 at 12:46 pm

Sadly, in the Lower Slobbovian National Trials, at my table our South opponent opened one club and they got to six clubs.

Iain ClimieFebruary 26th, 2015 at 2:38 pm

Hi Jim2,
Did you find the trump lead to make them work for it, or was partner west?


Iain ClimieFebruary 26th, 2015 at 2:39 pm

Or a diamond…

bobby wolffFebruary 26th, 2015 at 3:57 pm

Hi Jim2 &, of course, Iain,

No doubt the six club contract against you was played by North, since for South to be the declarer TOCM TM would have transposed the king of diamonds. However, even with North as declarer making 12 tricks in clubs is difficult at best, with many playing options, but hard to imagine that the king of diamonds didn’t have to be onside or with a diamond lead.

jim2February 26th, 2015 at 4:14 pm

IIRC, pard was on lead and it was made in a canter.

jim2February 27th, 2015 at 12:17 am

… just like one of the column declarers made 11 tricks.