Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Wednesday, May 27th, 2015

To do two things at once is to do neither.


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


Today’s problem comes from a book by Eddie Kantar, Take All Your Chances. Kantar has the remarkable ability both to entertain and provide excellent teaching deals in a relaxed and humorous style. I recommend his books both for beginners and those with higher ambitions. In today’s deal you declare six spades on the lead of the heart jack. Plan the play (and consider what you would have done on a diamond lead).

After a heart lead it looks natural to take the diamond finesse – but if it fails you can almost kiss goodbye to any chance of making the hand. Far better is to win the lead, draw trumps ending in hand, then play a low club towards dummy’s queen without releasing the club ace. If the club queen loses to the king, you can later take the diamond finesse for your contract. That gives you two 50 percent chances instead of one.

After a diamond lead you need to determine if West would favor an attacking lead against a small slam – especially when declarer rates to be strong. I’d expect East to hold the diamond king not West. So I would win the diamond ace and ruff a diamond, then draw three rounds of trump and strip off the hearts. Unless the defenders’ discards indicated to the contrary, I’d ruff out the diamond queen, then cash the club ace and lead a low club to the queen. This wins whenever the club finesse succeeds or East has an unlikely doubleton club king.

In my preferred style, where my partner will rebid a major in front of a minor with a hand worth only one action, it is relatively clear to bid one notrump now. Rebidding one spade would guarantee four spades with real clubs, rather than a balanced hand. The point is that partner either does not have spades or is about to bid them now, with at least a decent invitation in high cards.


♠ Q 10 3 2
 K 6 5
 A Q 7
♣ Q 6 5
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


David WarheitJune 10th, 2015 at 9:15 am

On the H lead, S should strip the hearts and then lead a club towards the Q. This gains when E has the singleton CK and the DK which amounts to, oh darn, I can’t count that low.

bobby wolffJune 10th, 2015 at 2:37 pm

Hi David,

Even though, as you mention, your possibility caters to a very unlikely event, perhaps a fraction of 1%, best is best and pride can be taken by first just thinking about it and then executing it.

It then follows that it is somewhat comforting to know that if you had decided to be a surgeon that it would have been highly unlikely that you would have left your scalpel
in your patient’s abdomen.

Or would it? Only a great psychologist might suggest a connection and thus the likely answer.

Iain ClimieJune 10th, 2015 at 10:15 pm

Hi Bobby,

Just a word of praise for tofay’s auction. I had an enjoyable (if slightly manic) session with a partner tonight who takes competitive bidding to deranged levels. I once coined the term FRL (front row lemming) for such tendencies.

Having been subjected to some fun tonight, I felt obliged to respond by punting him into 2 making slams without the boredom of Blackwood.

The quote is also good – we don’t want our better halves thinking we can do house maintenance when we’re analysing a hand! Mind you, my wife knows better than to trust me too far on DIY.



bobby wolffJune 10th, 2015 at 10:52 pm

Hi Iain,

Yes, and sometimes using BW takes all the sport out of the game, action that any FRL would surely

Without taking anything away from your magical night, DIY seems to mean “do it yourself”, a command, which if done, may still require at least some revenge and possibly at a less than perfect moment.