Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, July 1st, 2016

Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul — and sings the tunes without the words — and never stops at all.

Emily Dickinson

S North
E-W ♠ 2
 A 6 3
 K Q J 9 8 5
♣ J 10 2
West East
♠ A K 10 6 3
 Q J 10 8 5
♣ 8 7
♠ Q J 9 7 5
 7 4
 7 2
♣ Q 9 5 3
♠ 8 4
 K 9 2
 A 10 6 3
♣ A K 6 4
South West North East
1 2 * 3 ♠ 4 ♠
5 ♣ Pass 6 All pass

*Michaels, at least 5-5 in the majors


Against six diamonds West leads the spade king, and East signals an odd number of spades. At trick two, West shift to the heart queen. What is the best approach to make a 12th trick?

Even if you can find the club queen, you must establish a long club to take care of your slow heart loser. After winning the heart shift in hand with the king and drawing trump, you could cash the club ace in the hope that West has a singleton club queen: if this proved successful you would have the four club tricks you need.

However, if the cards lie as shown in the diagram, the only successful approach here is to win the second trump in dummy (and when West shows out the singleton club queen becomes less likely) then lead the club jack. East can do no better than cover it with his queen.

You will then win the club ace, lead the club four to the 10, followed by the club two, to finesse the six. The play will be equivalent if East ducks the first club.

As West will by now be marked with an original with 5-5-1-2 shape, you will know to finesse on the third round of clubs. This line produces a fourth club trick whenever West started with a doubleton such as: 9-8, 9-7 or 8-7.

Note that there is no point in playing West for a doubleton club queen. While you would not have a club loser, you would still have one in hearts.

You may have only a 10-count but with your honors packed into your two suits, and an easy rebid, this is a sound if minimum opener. The intermediates are also relevant to this valuation – this hand has far more playing strength than a balanced 12-count.


♠ A K 10 6 3
 Q J 10 8 5
♣ 8 7
South West North East

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


bryanJuly 15th, 2016 at 1:59 pm

if west plays the 7C on the first club, and then the 3C on the going to dummy on the 10C, does south have any arrows left in the quiver?
Would it have matter if the 2nd lead had been a spade to cut down on entries to dummy?

bobbywolffJuly 15th, 2016 at 3:39 pm

Hi Bryan,

Since West is marked with spades and hearts, it would then be impossible for either opponent to be subject to a heart club squeeze. Alas, when the club spots from West include the lowly 3, the jig is up, unless West turns up being 5-4-1-3.

So much of playing excellent bridge turns out to going set on close hands, but as long as one learns as much as he or she can, but how to get the most out of as many hands as he can, he will rise to being a world beater.

The odds will always favor the most talented rising, leaving that key to aim to being one of those.

If one wants to wish for something, then declarer would have preferred to find the trumps 3-0 (of course with east having the 3) instead of 2-1 for reasons you have now figured out.

That is where being numerate becomes such a large factor in achieving legitimacy faster than other competitors. THINK NUMBERS!

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