Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, December 11th, 2015

Man is an embodied paradox, a bundle of contradictions.

Charles Colton

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


Today’s deal comes from Frank Stewart’s new book, “Play Bridge with Me,” as do all the deals this week.

At the first trick West can work out declarer’s point count. There are 17 HCP missing between East and South. East couldn’t respond to an opening bid, but South couldn’t open the bidding. So South has 12 points, and East has five.

South wins trick one with the club 10 and leads the heart four from hand. Before mechanically following small, you must first think about how you can beat three no-trump. Spades are surely the only hope for the defense.

If East had the heart queen and either the spade king or diamond king, declarer would have finessed in hearts. More likely, East has the spade king-queen or the spade queen and a red king. In either case, an early spade shift is paramount.

(It is too risky for West to duck the first heart. If East has the spade queen and no spade nine, the first spade lead must come from West to be effective.)

So West must rise with the heart ace and shift to the spade 10. Declarer can do no better than cover with dummy’s jack and capture East’s queen. East wins the next heart and leads a spade, and the defenders can cash out.

If West had played low on the first heart, East would take the king, but the spade shift comes too late. Nor would it help East to duck the first heart, since declarer would continue hearts. When West attacks spades, it constitutes South’s ninth trick.

This is the auction from today’s deal. Would you pass as South here? Put me down as a bidder, in an attempt to improve the contract or maybe steal from the opponents. I tend to bid the major here, not so much because it is higher scoring but because it is where I live. Passing might work if partner has a strong single-suiter, but I’d guess clubs isn’t our best trump suit.


♠ Q 5 2
 K 7 6 3
 8 7 6 5 4
♣ 5
South West North East
  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


jim2December 25th, 2015 at 11:21 am

Would it be better to finesse the QD at the second trick and then finesse the JH?

bobby wolffDecember 25th, 2015 at 3:29 pm

Hi Jim2,

“Methinks there is much reason in what he says”, 2nd Citizen, after listening to Mark Antony’s famous speech eulogizing Julius Caesar after his murder.

Exactly on point in order to add legal subterfuge into making it more difficult for the opponents to foil one’s master plan. Just another arrow in the quiver of the aspiring player, but often a necessary one.

A perfect day to ensure giving oneself a present, except some may argue that a low heart to the dummy may facilitate a duck more often than otherwise, a worthwhile thought likely envisioned by Frank Stewart.

Bill CubleyDecember 25th, 2015 at 4:45 pm

Merry Christmas to you and Judy from Anne and me.

bobby wolffDecember 25th, 2015 at 5:31 pm

Thanks, Bill and right back to you and Anne for everything healthy and prosperous.

Judy and Bobby