Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

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

Only the actions of the just
Smell sweet, and blossom in their dust.

James Shirley

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

*Mixed raise (6-9 points and four trump)


Defending against four spades on this deal, East should have had dummy’s hearts completely bottled up. However, he allowed declarer to come to a vital trick in the suit.

West led the heart four, and East won with the king, under which South dropped the queen. It was clear to East that his partner’s lead was a singleton so, to demonstrate his contempt for South’s feeble false-card, he cashed the heart ace and continued with a third heart. Declarer ruffed high, drew trump in two rounds ending in dummy, and cashed the heart jack, throwing a club. Next came the singleton diamond from the table and East’s diamond ace was the last trick for the defense.

East should have used his knowledge of the heart position to better advantage. He does have to decide at trick one whether to play his partner for precisely the doubleton spade queen or the singleton king (in which case it would be right to play for trump promotions by defending as he did). But if he plays his partner for a slow club trick, then he should lead the heart nine at trick two, not the ace. West ruffs, as expected, and taking the high heart spot as a suit preference signal, puts East in again with the diamond ace.

Another low heart lead by East now forces declarer to ruff high. As East’s heart ace is still intact, South gets no discards on the hearts and has to lose a club, two hearts and a diamond.

Do not make the knee-jerk reaction of passing because you are weak, and partner has not shown extra values. Here you have more than enough for the simple raise to two spades, simply suggesting four trumps and 6-10 HCP. Your ace and singleton should be working overtime; as bad hands go, this is a good one.


♠ J 9 8 6
 J 10 8 6
♣ A 10 6 3
South West North East
  Pass 1 ♣ Pass
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


Iain ClimieAugust 1st, 2015 at 6:29 pm

Hi Bobby,

You’ve left the analysis in a slightly tantalising state today. You point out that East’s defence works if West has (say) SQx and declarer has CKx but fails as the cards lie. All East knows is that West has a singleton heart and hasn’t dredged up a bid; what would you have done at the table with the sight of only 26 cards plus the small heart from West, and why please?

Sorry about the cheek!



Bobby WolffAugust 1st, 2015 at 7:30 pm

Hi Iain (cheek and all),

Obviously if declarer is good enough at divining out that West may have started with only Qx in spades, he could make a Herculean spade guess to ruff the 3rd heart played high, and play for that holding, by continuing with the other high trump.

Furthermore since it is probable that South has at least one of the minor suit monarchs, at least to me, the defensive line which will probably work is surely the one to be chosen.

The one tantalizing (fie on your European s, sounding like, but not as in ass),
possibility is that declarer possesses s. AQ10xxx. h. Qx. d. KJx, c. Qx leaving East with likely having blown the necessary defense.

But, in spite of plotting against myself (and the column suggestion) I cannot tell a lie and do support the column wisdom, of leading back the 9 of hearts at trick 2, and take a deep breath wishing that the king of spades will not appear on this trick.