Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Saturday, September 5th, 2015

To a philosopher, no circumstance, however trifling, is too minute.

Oliver Goldsmith

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

*Intermediate in balancing seat


In today’s deal declarer produces an endplay almost from nowhere in four spades.

After the lead of the diamond jack, South is threatened with four losers in hearts and clubs. He wins the diamond ace, takes the king and ruffs a diamond high. After cashing the spade ace and crossing to dummy’s spade queen, he leads the diamond seven. When East follows suit, declarer ruffs, then plays two more rounds of trumps, reducing everyone to five cards.

West is known to have begun with 2=5=3=3 or 2=6=3=2 shape (assuming that he would bid again with seven or eight hearts). The odds favor the former pattern, so declarer plays for that distribution. On the last trump West has to come down to ace-doubleton in either hearts or clubs. It looks normal to throw a heart, since if he pitches a club South can lead a low club to the queen, then duck one on the way back. Suppose West sees the endplay coming, and reduces to A-9 of hearts and A-8-4 of clubs.

Now South can find the neat play of a low heart from his hand, to put East on lead; a club back (best) is ducked to dummy’s queen. Then a second heart to the king and ace endplays West to lead away from the club ace at trick 12.

Incidentally, if it had been East who had discarded on the fourth diamond, declarer would simply have thrown a club, forcing West to win and lead away from one of his aces, to give South his 10th trick.

You might elect to bid diamonds, in which case an invitational jump to three diamonds looks far more appropriate than a pusillanimous response of two diamonds. Or you can bid no-trump. The text books may say that a call of one notrump is constructive; obviously no one is ever dealt a five-count with jack-fifth of spades… I say jump to two no-trump to get your invitational values across best.


♠ Q 5 2
 8 6 4
 A K 7 3
♣ Q 6 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


Bob KiblerSeptember 19th, 2015 at 5:50 pm

Is there an alligator lurking here? Does East need to climb up on
the third diamond? Is that easy?

bobby wolffSeptember 20th, 2015 at 4:17 am

Hi Bob,

No self respecting alligator would fail to open his jaws and rise. After all he is looking at the 8 over the dummy’s 7 so there is not anything to lose since he will have the jack of clubs at the ready.

Perhaps the theory is not as easy as the execution since the defender is not presented with any excuses to not to. In an expert or sometimes expressed world class game, at this point in defense both defenders, especially in this case East, will be able to basically call off the key cards in both the unseen hands in about 90% of the defended hands.

I know it almost sounds either exaggerated or just untrue, but nevertheless it is a given that by the way a good declarer has managed the play and partner has defended, the remaining cards at perhaps trick 9 and later are absolutely no mystery to either defender.