Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Saturday, April 18th, 2015

New things are made familiar, and familiar things are made new.

Samuel Johnson

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


On today’s deal from the semi-finals of a knock-out tournament both tables reached the same contract, on very similar auctions. Both Wests had an easy lead, and the play developed in very similar fashion at each table, but one declarer came home and one failed.

Put yourself in West’s seat. Having shown hearts and clubs, but having received no response from your partner, you lead the club king against four spades, as East followed with the four. Declarer wins with the ace, and plays a low spade. Plan the defense.

In one room South covered West’s spade two with dummy’s seven. East won cheaply and shifted to a low heart. Declarer ruffed, cashed the spade ace, and ran the diamonds, discarding clubs from hand. East could ruff in whenever he wanted to, but declarer had 10 tricks sooner or later.

In the other room West took the opportunity to count declarer’s tricks. If declarer had five spades West could count his 10 winners, so West assumed he had only a four-card suit. The early play had suggested partner has a singleton club, and if declarer could duck a trump to East, the defense would be over.

To foil South’s plan, West put in the spade king, and now whatever declarer did, nine tricks was the limit. If he ducked, West would cash the clubs, while if declarer won and played a second trump East would win and cash a third trump, leaving South with just nine tricks.

What call can you make other than “Aaargh!!”. You have to pass now, hoping your partner has six or more respectable hearts. Even if he doesn’t, your best possible alternative strain is probably clubs – and you can never play there cheaply, since a bid of three clubs by you now would be forcing and artificial not natural.


♠ A J 7 3
 A K Q 7 6
♣ 9 8 6 3
South West North East
1 Pass 1 Pass
1♠ Pass 2 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

1 Comment

HerremanAugust 18th, 2015 at 3:41 pm

West is a genius !