Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, August 27th, 2015

His fine wit
Makes such a wound, the knife is lost in it.

Percy Shelley

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


Both Souths declared three spades here, on this deal from the 2003 world junior teams final between Israel and the US. At one table Joe Grue for the US ducked the heart lead and won the heart return, then finessed in trumps and West not unreasonably took the trick.

Declarer won the trump return and cashed the diamond ace before ruffing a heart (on which West could have pitched a diamond to arrange a ruff had he been 4-2-2-5). No harm done; when the diamond queen popped up, Grue collected 11 tricks.

In the second room, West, Joel Wooldridge, was allowed to hold the heart king. But here Wooldridge found the very effective shift to the club jack. That let the defense force declarer with three rounds of clubs.

South, Yossi Roll, ruffed and next led low to the trump queen. The appearance of the 10 should have alerted him to the possibility of a 4-1 trump break. He next unblocked the heart ace and crossed back to his hand with a diamond.

If trumps were 4-1 his only chance was to find the doubleton diamond queen in East, to let him cash two more diamonds. Then declarer could cross to the trump ace and ruff a heart in dummy. But declarer led a heart prematurely, and that let Wooldridge as West pitch a losing diamond. Declarer could score his ruff, but when the bad trump split came to light, dummy was out of trump. West could win his trump king and lead the fourth club, to establish a long trump for himself, for down one.

Your partner’s double is take-out (either both unbid suits or one of the suits plus support for partner). So you should introduce your hearts – not because you want to, but because the spades are not worth rebidding and because partner will revert to spades without real hearts. So bid two hearts now.


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


jim2September 10th, 2015 at 12:14 pm

I think I would always have won the opening lead and then probably returned a second heart towards my 10.

Why duck that lead and risk a club shift?

bobby wolffSeptember 10th, 2015 at 2:25 pm

Hi Jim2,

And that is why, “Blow me a kiss from across the room. Say I look nice when I’m not. Touch my hair when you pass my chair. LITTLE THINGS MEAN A LOT”.

While it is usually very difficult to, early in a hand, analyze it to complete satisfaction, experience, together with bridge numeracy are, at least to me the important factors which tend to make good players, great
These early junior competitions are critical vehicles for gaining that necessary experience and from that, and all locations in our big wide world, often come the players who will make our future generations of world class better and better.

Your fear of a club shift at trick two was genuine and set off a three trick swing in the result. Thanks for offering your “right on” take.