Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, July 31st, 2015

Life doesn’t offer charity, it offers chance.

Amit Kalantri

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


In today’s deal South took a flyer at slam without any assurance of finding real trump support, but knowing from the fourth-suit call that responder had opening values. The two diamond call asks rather than tells, and sets up a game-force.

After the lead of the diamond 10, declarer’s back was firmly against the wall, since he no longer had an entry to dummy. Crossing his fingers, South finessed the diamond jack. When it held, he played the diamond ace and king, discarding the ace and king of spades from hand.

Next came dummy’s three spade winners, on which declarer discarded his three club losers. Everything had passed off remarkably peacefully up till now. All that remained was to negotiate trumps for just one loser – by no means a sure thing. If trumps were 3-2 it would be a blind guess as to whether to lead to the queen or the 10. One play succeeds against jack-third to your right, one against kingthird, and there were no indications in the bidding or play as to which was more likely. And either play works against a doubleton honor in East. But if trumps were 4-1 with West having a singleton, the choice between playing the queen or 10 came down in favor of leading to the queen, since that picked up a singleton jack with West, the only relevant singleton. So declarer led a trump to the queen and lived happily ever after.

When you have a 12-count with two four-card suits, the question is not whether to open the bidding, but with what to open. I can imagine 12-counts I would pass but this is not one of them. Yes opening one club is hardly lead-directing, and in third seat I would understand bidding one diamond – or even one spade. But in first seat it looks normal to open one club and bid the spades the next time round.


♠ Q J 10 5
 5 4
 A K J
♣ J 5 3 2
South West North East

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 14th, 2015 at 2:08 pm

Hi Bobby,

If South does the lottery, I’d like to copy his / her numbers! How good isn’t that contract?



bobby wolffAugust 14th, 2015 at 3:04 pm

Hi Iain,

Now that you asked I’ll try to give you an accurate reply. About 14% (2 out of 2 finesses, diamonds and hearts plus 3-2 hearts and only 1 out of 5 singletons, J, plus 4-3 spades).

About 1 out of 7, but think how much fun it is to succeed.

AviAugust 16th, 2015 at 7:18 am


If south was playing for a singleton honor, wouldn’t it improve his chances to play a heart to the Ace?
if no honor drops, he can then play a small H, hoping for Kx?

this improves the percentages to 2/5 singletons + 3-2 hearts with Kx.
almost doubles the odds (i think ~26%)?

AviAugust 16th, 2015 at 11:55 am

I forgot to cater to all the 3-2 positions where Kx(x) is onside, so I improved on the 4-1 breaks but degraded the 3-2 breaks.
As the column suggests, playing to the Q is superior

Lee McGovernAugust 17th, 2015 at 10:32 pm

Hi Bobby,

Can you give some examples of 12-counts you would pass please? I am imagining hands with wasted values such a Qx doubletons…