Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, May 6th, 2016

Merely corroborative detail, intended to give artistic verisimilitude to an otherwise bald and unconvincing narrative.

W. S. Gilbert

S North
E-W ♠ K Q 6
 K 7 3
 K 6 3 2
♣ Q 9 5
West East
♠ 9 5 4 2
 6 5 4
 9 8
♣ A 7 6 3
♠ 10 8 3
 Q J 10
 J 10 7 5
♣ 10 4 2
♠ A J 7
 A 9 8 2
 A Q 4
♣ K J 8
South West North East
2 NT Pass 6 NT All pass


I first saw today’s deal a couple of years ago featured in a column on defensive strategy. The author referred to it as having cropped up in a league match – a maneuver which I sometimes rather untrustingly suspect is shorthand for having invented a convincing deal and rubbed it in dirt to create a more plausible patina.

Be that as it may, consider what took place when both tables reached six no-trump, perhaps after South had upgraded his 19-count with little justification into a two no-trump opener.

At one table South won the lead of the heart six, which went to the 10 and his ace, then led a club to dummy’s queen. When it held, he played a second club, and West won and pressed on with hearts, in an attempt to cut declarer’s communications for later pressure. This effort was unsuccessful. Declarer won the heart king and ran all his spade and club winners, reducing dummy to four diamonds while he had his three diamonds and the heart nine in hand. East had to discard his remaining heart honor to preserve his diamond stopper, and declarer cashed his heart nine for the 12th trick.

Nicely played, but in the other room after a similar opening lead West found the killing defensive maneuver when he ducked the second round of clubs. Declarer could not lead a third round of the suit, so he had little option but to fall back on the diamond break for his 12th trick, and when the suit refused to behave, he had to concede down one.

It looks very tempting to drive to three no-trump immediately, which is clearly the value call on the hand. But your partner could have many diamond holdings where it would be better for him to declare the hand. I’d be tempted to cuebid two diamonds initially, and try to maneuver him into declaring the hand.


♠ K Q 6
 K 7 3
 K 6 3 2
♣ Q 9 5
South West North East
    1 ♣ 1

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


David WarheitMay 20th, 2016 at 9:14 am

Something is wrong. S has only 10 tricks once the CA is knocked out. After running all the black tricks, S has H98 DAQ4 and dummy has H7 DK632. Even if D are 3-3 he still loses a H at the end. Perhaps the H7 should be the S&?

David WarheitMay 20th, 2016 at 9:15 am

Sorry, H7 should be S7.

bobby wolffMay 20th, 2016 at 2:01 pm

Hi David,

Indeed, you are as correct as you can be.

The dummy needed a 4th spade giving the declarer 4 spade tricks, 2 club tricks, 2 heart tricks and 3 diamond tricks, but then squeezing East in the red suits for the slam going trick.

However West can prevent that “simple” squeeze from occurring by simply ducking his club ace twice, leaving declarer without recourse to “time” the squeeze ending successfully”.

Great game this bridge. Perhaps I should learn to find the correct card placement in order to illustrate it accurately. Many apologies for this significant “gaffe” and thanks again, David.

jim2May 20th, 2016 at 2:33 pm

Need to be careful of the source of that fourth spade, both in explaining the bidding and making the play work.

For example, North’s majestic leap makes more sense w/o a 4-card major and a doubleton. Also, if it is a small heart that gets transmogrified, there is no heart threat. Yet, if it is a diamond spot that gets the wand treatment, there is no long diamond. That seems to leave a club, but Qx doubleton weakens the hand, especially for a notrump leap holding four spades.

The South hand is similar, as KJ bare of clubs would make the 2N opening have no justification whatsoever.

bobby wolffMay 20th, 2016 at 3:52 pm

Hi Jim2,

While your details which, no doubt, are without the sign of not being necessary, nor right to the point in importance, it only reminds me of what my (and my team’s) responsibilities are! Perhaps it has been caused by my zeal to present our wonderful, but sometimes complicated game, as simply as possible to various levels of bridge.

Some may mistakenly think that I am doing a great service to my readers, because of my availability to answer their often puzzling bridge questions.

However, it is just the opposite. Without your (and many others’) significant involvement in both posing the questions and so many worthwhile continued contributions enabling varied bridge discussions, our site would not be close to what I hope it represents today.

For just that, I can only say a heartfelt thanks to all (with perhaps extra kudos) to the almost daily ones who devote their time and exert so much effort to present our wonderful game in the best possible light, encouraging all readers to both continue and even increase their active participation with our site and, of course, by playing our game, even more often.

Patrick CheuMay 20th, 2016 at 10:10 pm

Hi Bobby,Trying to get to…blog here..

Patrick CheuMay 20th, 2016 at 10:29 pm

Hi Bobby,Holding A42 1082 A54 KJ52 (North),you hear West 1D (precision 11-15)-p-East 2D(11+)-pass West 2N and East 3N..what would you lead?Pard led a heart and EW makes 3N for a top.West Q86 AQ9 K732 643 East 5 KJ43 Q1098 AQ98,South KJ10973 765 J6 107.Was it possible for North to find a spade lead and South to play the 9S/10S/JS play on the lead in order to beat the contract that no other were in? The AD was the key card..regards~Patrick.

bobby wolffMay 21st, 2016 at 1:05 am

Hi Patrick,

Anything is possible and perhaps a major suit lead (on this bidding) is called for and spades could have been selected instead of hearts.

However that does not make the heart lead incorrect, it just means it did not work this time, although there was a second chance once North got in with the ace of diamonds.

Also, if North switches to a low spade and partner plays the king and leads a low one back, would not most declarers rise with the queen only to then lose that trick and the next 4 spades.

When the dummy merely raised to 3NT without checking out other contracts with his 1-4-4-4 hand it seems strange, but sometimes bold undisciplined bidding got the job done.

I wouldn’t worry about this hand. Just chalk it up to a little bad luck + a little not so good judgment.

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