Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, January 28th, 2016

Every man should have aunts. They illustrate the triumph of guesswork over logic.

Agatha Christie

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


Declaring three no-trump on a top spade lead South can count only eight sure tricks in top cards: two spades, three hearts, two diamonds, and one club. South can make his game if the heart queen is well placed, or if he can locate the diamond queen. Not surprisingly, it is best to delay the decision before guessing in diamonds. South should commit himself only after considering all the evidence.

One way to play the cards out is to win tricks, but an equally good way is to surrender the tricks you can afford to lose. Both methods may generate additional evidence. After winning the spade lead in dummy and losing the heart finesse, South can afford to give up three spade tricks. He should therefore take the second spade, cash his top cards in hearts, then return a spade. While West takes his good spades, South pitches clubs, then reassesses the position.

Declarer knows that East has two cards in each major, so must have started with nine minorsuit cards. At the table East will begin by discarding two small diamonds on the hearts. Then he rates to discard three small clubs. West exits with a low club to the king and South’s ace.

Logic suggests that East has thrown as many diamonds as he could afford, and then decided to keep the rest. What can East be saving in diamonds that persuaded him to discard away from the club king? All the evidence points in the same direction: South should play East for the diamond queen.

It would be easy but over-hasty to jump to three notrump now. This is an auction where, having doubled initially, a call of one no-trump shows more than a strong no-trump. (Of course with less than a strong no-trump you would pass at your second turn to speak.) That being so, a jump to two no-trump now shows 21-22; perfect.


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


Iain ClimieFebruary 12th, 2016 at 12:15 am

Hi Bobby,

Although unrelated to today’s hand, can I nominate an opponent from my session tonight for a brilliant coup. I held SAQJ98x HKQxx Dxx Cx and heard 3 passes so opened 1S before subsiding in 3S, pard putting down S7x Hxx DAQ9x CKQ9xx. LHO led the D2, the finesse lost and a diamond came back won by the Ace. A heart to my K held, a club to the K lost to RHO’s ace and he played back another diamond.

I ruffed, ruffed a small heart with the 7 all following, cashed the CQ to dump the HQ and led a spade, small, ?? RHO has turned up with AAK so the spade K is with LHO and it is maybe singleton (unlikely). So I played SA then SQ only to see it run round to RHO’s Kx (he’s passed a 14 count having miscounted ) and a club through promoted his partner’s 10! Bang went 80% to be replaced by a big fat 0! I couldn’t help but laugh when he apologised.



Iain ClimieFebruary 12th, 2016 at 12:19 am

Sorry, after taking CA he cashed HA, and then played another D….

bobby wolffFebruary 12th, 2016 at 1:47 am

Hi Iain,

Your tale is one of sad begotten woe.

The surgery by you was precise but the patient was ill formed.

Be happy that you knew enough not to take the 0% trump finesse which action turned viral.

However, for others sitting your way, my guess is that many, with your combined assets, would reach 4 spades, after 3rd seat had opened at the one level or possibly your pard may have opened one climond (take his choice). In any event game probably would be reached in spades and after all, your opponents also got off to their best lead.

So sometimes combining two strokes of atrocious luck on one matchpoint result does have a softer landing than spreading it out.

Better luck is sure to follow.

jim2February 12th, 2016 at 3:05 am

On the column hand, y’all know the QD would “migrate” to the short hand for me …


bobby wolffFebruary 12th, 2016 at 4:49 am

Hi Jim2,

Others have also had problems with her. They don’t call her a rich b—- for no reason.

Even Iain couldn’t score her up at trick one in his example hand.

Iain ClimieFebruary 12th, 2016 at 8:31 am

Hi Jim2,

Does the trap I plunged into count as a special case of TOCM? West holds stiff K if you finesse, East holds Kx if you don’t?


jim2February 12th, 2016 at 12:41 pm

Hardly a special case. Indeed, the drop versus finesse is standard TOCM ™ fare!