Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, January 12th, 2016

It’s not the surprise that matters, it’s how you react to it.

Innocent Mwaksikesimbe

S North
None ♠ 10
 A K J 7 6
 K 9 8 7
♣ 5 3 2
West East
♠ A K 8
 10 8 3
 A Q 4 3
♣ 10 9 6
♠ 9 7 5 4 3
 9 5 4
 10 6
♣ A 7 4
♠ Q J 6 2
 Q 2
 J 5 2
♣ K Q J 8
South West North East
1 ♣ Dbl. 1 1 ♠
Pass Pass Dbl. Pass
1 NT Pass 3 NT All pass


This week’s deals all come from the NEC teams tournament held in Yokohama last year. When the Japanese team SARA met India in the last qualifying match, a place in the knockout phase was on the line, with the winner very likely to advance to the knock-out phase, while the loser would be eliminated.

Both East-West pairs did their best to get into their opponent’s auctions, but neither North-South pair tried to defend against a spade contract. In one room Tadashi Teramoto for SARA ended in a partscore in no-trump, losing just the four top tricks in aces and kings. With three no-trump very playable, would this be a small pick-up or a small loss for SARA?

In the other room Gopal Venkatesh for India reach three notrump. Takeshi Niekawa led a top spade and worked out from his partner’s signal to shift to a heart. Had declarer played for 3-3 hearts he would have won in dummy to preserve his entry to hand. Instead Venkatesh won his heart queen and led out his top clubs. East, Shugo Tanaka ducked twice, and now declarer could not afford to run hearts, since this would squeeze his hand in the process.

He therefore played a third club; Tanaka won and shifted back to spades, letting Niekawa win and get off lead in hearts, locking declarer in dummy to lead diamonds from the board, for down one. Nicely defended: this was the only table where three no-trump was defeated. Half the field bid and made game.

Your partner’s redouble was for blood, tending to deny heart support (and he would surely have raised hearts if he did have anything in that suit). Double three clubs, expecting that declarer will have very few tricks on repeated trump leads – or that you can get spade ruffs after a heart lead.


♠ 10
 A K J 7 6
 K 9 8 7
♣ 5 3 2
South West North East
  1 1 ♠ Pass
2 Dbl. Rdbl. Pass
Pass 3 ♣ Pass 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 2016. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact


Jeff SJanuary 26th, 2016 at 4:13 pm

I don’t understand the third club. You could easily be leading into AT (in either hand) and immediately conceding the contract. It seems that after the second club holds, we can run the hearts dropping a spade and two diamonds from hand before exiting with dummy’s last club.

True, if W holds the AT of clubs, we go down, but we would have anyway with the actual line. As it is, E takes his A and now has to exit with a spade to the Q and A. And now W is stuck. If he returns a spade, the fourth club gives us our ninth trick.

Am I missing something?

Iain ClimieJanuary 26th, 2016 at 5:44 pm

Hi Jeff, Bobby,

I think West (seeing all hands) can exit with the DA then a small D at the end as I looked at this line too. Double dummy, south can discard a diamond a club and a spade before exiting with a club, but if you can see all 4 hands, you’d just take the hearts as 3-3! Interesting hand, though



jim2January 26th, 2016 at 6:00 pm

I think Jeff’s 4-card ending (declarer has taken 7 tricks, the defense 2) with East on lead with the AC:


A 97
– –
AQ4 106
– –



If East exits with a small diamond (NOT a spade) and West inserts the Q, the defense gets 3 of the last four tricks.

jim2January 26th, 2016 at 6:01 pm

Ack — bad format


A ———–97
– ———– –
AQ4 ——- 106
– ———– –



Iain ClimieJanuary 26th, 2016 at 6:34 pm

Hi JIm2,

True, and West can also play DA and a small one back, just as long as East has led the D6.



bobby wolffJanuary 26th, 2016 at 7:32 pm

Hi Jeff, Iain, & Jim2,

Thanks for covering most, if not all, likely contingencies.

Many of these random conclusions to close hands are either impossible to make, or else necessary to tip toe through the tulips to score them up. Very tedious to (please excuse) deal with.

Lesson learned is to devote total concentration to where the outstanding cards figure to be.