Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, February 15th, 2016

Pigeons on the grass alas.

Gertrude Stein

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


Today’s deal saw a tricky player present an opponent with a losing option. Put yourself in the West seat and cover up the East and South cards, to see if you are the pheasant or the pheasant-plucker.

At the table, West led the heart three against three no-trump. East won the trick with the king as declarer played the six. East returned the heart seven, on which declarer contributed the queen. West won the trick with his heart ace (do you agree?). And what should the defenders do now?

Did you lead out the heart 10, assuming that the defenders could run the hearts on defense? That is certainly the logical interpretation; but before you try to cash out the hearts, remember which hearts are missing. The answer is that the four, five and nine have not put in an appearance. Since your partner would return the lowest from a remaining holding of three cards, (or even perhaps from four, to avoid accidentally persuading you he had just two left) his remaining holding when he led back the seven had to be the doubleton 7-4 or 7-5, the former perhaps being more likely given declarer’s play to trick one.

It must be safe to exit with the spade jack (declarer can hardly cash nine tricks from the minors unless partner has the spade ace). On winning with the king, declarer can do no better than run the club jack to East’s king. When East shifts back to the heart four, the defense runs three more heart tricks to set the game.

Does responder’s Stayman sequence promise four spades? If not, then I would lead a spade, of course. If dummy rates to have shown four spades, I’ll go passive with a diamond lead. The six may be easier to read than the three, since a low card might suggest real length or an honor, or both.


♠ Q 9 6 4 3
 A 9 6
 6 4 3
♣ 6 2
South West North East
    Pass 1 NT
Pass 2 ♣ Pass 2
Pass 2 NT Pass 3 NT
All 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


Patrick CheuFebruary 29th, 2016 at 4:00 pm

Hi Bobby,If West intends to play East for three hearts,normally with an entryless hand it is right to duck the second heart,but here the Eight of Hearts swings matters in favour of winning the second heart with the ace(108 over South’s 95) and a safe spade exit..regards Patrick.

bobbywolffMarch 1st, 2016 at 2:42 am

Hi Patrick,

No doubt you are right on, but sometimes, the opening leader will not properly analyze the spot cards and when the declarer falsecards the queen instead of just barely covering the eight, the psychology passes to the offense.

In other words, for whatever reason, the queen play appears to be more devious to being able to catch a fish.

Thanks for your comment.

Peter PengMarch 1st, 2016 at 3:07 am

hi Bobby

if I understood you title, it had to do with the job of curator of bridge hands –

best always

bobbywolffMarch 1st, 2016 at 5:14 am

Hi Peter,

Yes, being a curator probably shows at least a connection to a museum.

And after the visitors have left and the museum is shutting down for the night, there is usually some cleaning up to do.

Similar to late night after a bridge tourney has ended, the help picking up all those tricks that have been dropped at every table.

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