Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Saturday, March 5th, 2016

Confession is good for the soul only in the sense that a tweed coat is good for dandruff — it is a palliative rather than a remedy.

Peter de Vries

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


Today’s deal is a mea culpa from a reader whose name will be withheld. At least, as he said, he made an interesting mistake.

Declarer was given a helpful start when West led a spade rather than the more challenging diamond. He won with the queen in hand, ducked a heart to East’s 10, won the next spade with the ace in hand, and played another heart. West tranced before playing the jack and declarer won the king and continued the attack on hearts. When the defense cleared spades, declarer did not guess clubs and could no longer make the game.

South realized, too late, that had he taken the club finesse when the heart king held, he would actually have made his game.

First, suppose that West cashes his hearts: now South has three spades, two hearts, three clubs and a diamond. Alternatively, suppose West does not cash either heart winner, but exits immediately with a spade. Declarer wins in dummy and play ace and another diamond, since the diamond king must be with East. The defenders can cash a spade, their fourth defensive trick, but South has three spades, one heart, two diamonds and three clubs.

So perhaps West should cash just one heart after scoring his club king. But now if he plays a spade, declarer gives up a heart while he still has an entry to dummy. If West switches to a diamond instead, now South simply plays low from dummy for the ninth trick, because the defenders have not yet set up East’s long spade.

Hands of this sort present an awkward problem. Should you go high or low, and what strain should you select? My opinion is that if you play the probabilities, partner is likely to hold 12-14 HCP and you have no eight-card fit. So this all argues for going low by bidding one notrump. Partner will move with shape and extras; if he passes, you rate to have no game.


♠ K 9 6
 K 9 8 7 6
 A 9
♣ 10 5 2
South West North East
    1 ♣ Pass
1 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