Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, January 8th, 2016

Many of us are in are in our own prisons that aren’t made of iron bars.

Hill Harper

N North
Both ♠ Q 10 6 4
 K J 7
 K 9
♣ J 9 7 2
West East
♠ J 9 5 2
 6 4 3
♣ K Q 10 8 5 3
♠ K 7
 A Q 9 8 5 4 3
♣ A 6 4
♠ A 8 3
 10 6 2
 A Q J 10 7 5 2
♣ —
South West North East
    Pass 1
2 Dbl. Rdbl. 4
5 Pass Pass Dbl.
All pass      


If you enjoy a touch of humor in your bridge deals, you may relish ‘Bridge Behind Bars’, a book from Master Point Press that sees experienced author Julian Pottage in harness with Nick Smith. The bridge is set in the fictional prison of Great Yarborough.

The hands are often instructive, and, unsurprisingly the ethically challenged players offer some amusing vignettes. But as you will see from the deal below, the bridge is far from perfect.

Here West led the club king against five diamonds doubled. Declarer ruffed the opening lead and led a diamond to dummy’s nine, ruffed a club, then played a diamond to dummy’s king before ruffing another club. He then drew the last trump and led out the spade ace followed by a spade to dummy’s 10. East now shifted to the heart ace and another heart, thus presenting declarer with his contract.

Can you see how both East and South might have done better? When East was in with the spade king, he could have saved the day by refusing to cash the heart ace and exiting with a low heart instead. He would then have had two heart tricks to come.

However, declarer could have prevented this. Knowing from the bidding that East holds at most two spades, he should have played low on the second round of the suit. East would win his king, but when he then exits with a low heart, declarer can win in hand with the 10 and finesse West’s spade jack, setting up the 10 for a heart discard.

There are two quite reasonable routes here. You can redouble to show a hand interested in defending promising 9+HCP. Or you can ignore the opponents’ bidding and bid one spade, just as you would have done without intervention. Either route is fine – and I prefer either call to bidding one no-trump (though I might make that bid if my spades were weaker).


♠ Q 10 6 4
 K J 7
 K 9
♣ J 9 7 2
South West North East
  Pass 1 Dbl.

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 2016. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact