Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, August 7th, 2015

For the things we have to learn before we can do them, we learn by doing them.


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


Today’s deal comes from an expert player, who was practicing online at (This is the best place both to play and practice online that I know.) He reported the deal anonymously, remarking that it was a pity his non-expert partner had not been the declarer here, since it would have given him a chance to demonstrate his technique, or at least to learn a valuable lesson if he failed to do so.

North-South were in danger of getting too high here and South thought he had judged well not to press on to six clubs. Singleton honors are often difficult to evaluate, and North had perhaps been a little over-enthusiastic.

When West led a spade, declarer had to decide how to play for 11 tricks. One line was simply to draw trump from the top and, if there was a loser there, to guess diamonds. However, South spotted that provided hearts were 4-3 he had a better line.

So he won the spade king, played the heart ace and led a heart to hand, cashed the spade ace pitching a heart, and ruffed a spade. Now he played a club to his king and cashed the heart queen. When this stood up, he simply played a club to the jack. As it turned out, East showed out and declarer could draw the last trump and claim. However, if East had won his doubleton trump queen, he would have been endplayed either to play a diamond or concede a ruff and discard.

Your partner’s second double is card-showing not penalty. You have implicitly denied four cards in either major or you would have acted over the first double. That being said, a 4-3 heart fit looks quite playable, and your clubs are not worth bidding at the three-level. So bid two hearts.


♠ A 5 4
 K Q 2
 8 3
♣ K 8 4 3 2
South West North East
1 ♣ 1 Dbl. 2
Pass Pass 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


David WarheitAugust 21st, 2015 at 10:38 am

Slightly better line: cash CK at trick 2 and then, unless E shows out or someone had the singleton CQ, proceed as indicated. This line gains over the indicated line if E has singleton H, 3 small C & DAQ, or if W has CQ fourth and DQ.

bobby wolffAugust 21st, 2015 at 11:14 am

Hi David,

No doubt you are correct and, if for no other reason, than the possible pitfalls in not doing, are, while against percentage, are still, because of the overcall, in the ballpark, to occur.

Sometimes, in one’s zeal to guard against certain obscure possibilities, a declarer may overlook a more likely than thought danger in cashing a major trump honor first, but, as far as I can see, not here and to not do so, would reduce a thought to be careful line of play from very good to only sort of good, but, as you deftly point out, certainly to be improved.

Thanks for your time and effort, since all wannabe top line potential players can seriously benefit from your superior analysis, if only to teach how to think.

Jane AAugust 21st, 2015 at 2:13 pm

Seems to me that three NT is a better contract. Easier to take nine tricks than eleven. On a diamond lead in five clubs, which is what I would lead once it becomes pretty obvious that this is the missing ace, why not lead it. A spade lead does not seem very likely to help much. The declarer has to guess the club suit to even make five.

bobby wolffAugust 21st, 2015 at 4:05 pm

Hi Jane A,

You are speaking one truth after another.

It is hard to argue successfully with you, but in order to present a problem NS need to bid 5 clubs and West needs to not lead a diamond, and if so declarer needs to guess how to play the trump.

Since writing about bridge does allow editorial license (at least AFAIK) presto, magico, the percentage line works.

Fie on the bidding, fie on the opening lead, but hooray for declarer. BTW, thanks for your comment, since it gives me a chance to explain our honest, but controlling choices.

Iain ClimieAugust 22nd, 2015 at 2:03 pm

Actually, 12 tricks aren’t there ever are they, unless someone tosses away the SA?

Iain ClimieAugust 22nd, 2015 at 2:27 pm

Hi Bobby,

Gremlins! An earlier post of mine has disappeared, wondering if declarer can and should try to cope with C4-1 with west holding C10 Q or K alone. I think it risks a trump promotion, though, so not a good idea.



bobby wolffAugust 22nd, 2015 at 3:31 pm

Hi Iain,

In dealing with crime, good detective work is often necessary to solve. In dealing with bridge, good detective work is often needed to locate the important cards both as declarer and as a defender.

However, on the above my sleuthing may suggest that your two above have lost their way from here the Friday column to the Saturday column above it.

And whether one’s name is Ellery Queen, Philo Vance, Dick Tracy or one not so famous, solving riddles will always glean great satisfaction.