Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, April 15th, 2016

’Tis an awkward thing to play with souls,
And matter enough to save one’s own.

Robert Browning

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


In this deal from the 2015 Yeh Bros Cup teams from England and Japan both reached three notrump, on the defense of a low spade lead round to the 10 and queen.

At one table, Paul Hackett guessed diamonds and ran the suit, West pitching a heart, East a heart then a club. Paul now took dummy’s two top hearts and led a spade from dummy, covering East’s five with the six. West could not underlead in spades, since Paul still had the jack left (and had East put up the eight, South’s six would have been larger than East’s remaining spot, the five). So all West could do was cash out his spades and surrender the last two tricks to declarer in clubs.

In the other room, the first trick went the same way when Paul’s son Justin Hackett was West. Declarer also cashed out the diamonds, guessing the queen correctly, but here Justin discarded a discouraging club 10 as West. Now but when South tried to strip out the hearts and endplay West, Justin had a heart left to reach his partner at trick 12.

There is a legitimate defense, though; let’s go back to trick one. When partner leads the spade seven, you know declarer has two honors in spades. Don’t waste a high spade spot at trick one and do not pitch a spade on the run of the diamonds. Then your 10-8 of spades ensures your partner can pitch a heart on the diamonds. If necessary, your partner can put you in with a spade, should declarer try to endplay him by playing on spades after stripping off the hearts.

It is simple, but may be a little premature to jump to three no-trump; however, what are the alternatives? You could cuebid two spades, but what are you then supposed to do if partner bids a minor? You would surely have to bid three no-trump now – and I’d be worried that this showed four hearts plus a spade stop offering a choice of games. Maybe simplest is best.


♠ Q J 6
 J 10
 K 10 9 5
♣ A Q 8 5
South West North East
  1 ♠ Dbl. 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