Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, June 9th, 2015

It is hard to be defensive toward a danger which you have never imagined existed.

John Christopher

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


Though the point of today’s deal may not appear to be a complex one, a remarkable number of declarers missed the point of this hand from a club duplicate. After two passes East had opened the bidding with one club. Now South’s hand might qualify for an intermediate jump overcall, or a heavy one-level overcall. I’m not a fan of doubling then bidding hearts, but whatever route you chose, the likely final contract was four hearts.

Those declarers who escaped a club lead had no problems, but the play was more challenging when West started with the queen and another club. East won the second club and led another, which declarer was forced to ruff high.

Although it was a good idea to draw trumps now, it turned out to be dangerous to lead low towards dummy’s heart 10. You can see what would happen – East would win with his ace and lead a fourth round of clubs. This would promote his partner’s nine of trumps into the setting trick.

The more thoughtful declarers took the precaution of crossing to dummy by leading a low diamond to the queen before tackling trumps by leading the three from dummy. Now East’s ace fell on empty air and then there was no further problem in drawing the rest of the trumps. Dummy’s heart 10 was still in place to protect against a fourth round of clubs. This is an unusual safety play, one that, as we can see, could easily have been overlooked in the heat of the moment.

Had your partner doubled an opening bid of one club or one heart, you might have been tempted by what looked like a working second suit in diamonds to jump to two spades. On the actual auction, your diamonds look badly placed and bidding one spade (planning to compete again if necessary) seems the logical way to go.


♠ K 9 4 2
 10 3
 K Q 5 3
♣ J 7 3
South West North East
  1 Dbl. 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


Mircea1June 23rd, 2015 at 9:42 am

Hi Bobby,

Is ‘intermediate’ the best use of a jump overcall in this position (afer pass – pass – 1 of a suit)?

Michael BeyroutiJune 23rd, 2015 at 10:56 am

I thought I was “lucky” because I did not get a club lead. I won in hand and innocently played a small heart to dummy’s ten. East won, cashed the A-K of clubs and continued with a third heart. Now whether I ruffed high or low West’s nine became the setting trick. I felt that today’s quote applied to me…
The declarer who got the lead of queen and another club has been forewarned. He must play carefully as outlined in the article. However, the sentence “Dummy’s ten of hearts was still in place to protect against a fourth round of clubs” does not tell the complete story. It took me a while to figure out that declarer must ruff low in hand. The heart ten in dummy protects against an overruff by West.

jim2June 23rd, 2015 at 11:21 am

It takes very clever defense by East to beat 4S.

Bobby WolffJune 23rd, 2015 at 2:43 pm

Hi Mircea1, Michael and Jim2,

Since Judy and I are at a Strip Hotel attending the big tournament of the year in Las Vegas, I will be a little cramped in answering your very worthwhile comments. However, I still welcome them and will do the best I can.

Mercea, to me it is a toss up whether you merely overcall 1H, play intermediate jump overcalls (a little heavy) or double and then bid hearts.

Michael, yes you must ruff the fourth club In your hand in order to protect against losing the setting trick.

Finally, Jim2 (you tricky devil), you have all those special leads and vital underleads in mind to set 4S.

Most of us have to get up very early in the morning to keep up with your acumen since I am dictating to Judy on her Ipad. Please excuse unintentional carelessness.

Do not allow my plight to deter you all from bringing into reality questions others would love to have discussed.