Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, August 2nd, 2016

The art of being wise is to know what to overlook.

William James

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


Today’s deal came up in the ACBL simultaneous pair game in support of the Canadian Olympiad this June.

The commentary indicated that West was likely to pass initially, then back in with two hearts after hearing one club to his left and one spade to his right. North should not repeat his clubs – that would show at least a trick more than he has — but South can reopen with a double, which is primarily for take-out.

North has an obvious rebid of three clubs now, and this lets South bid three diamonds at his next turn, which is clearly natural and forcing. The absence of a heart stopper should now be apparent. North should eventually give preference to spades, and South can raise to game.

West’s target will be to build extra trump tricks for his side by leading hearts at every turn. After three rounds of hearts, ruffed in hand, South will cross to dummy to take the spade finesse. When West wins his spade queen and leads a fourth heart, would you as declarer remember to ruff in dummy with the spade six? That play might seem irrelevant – but just look at the spot cards. You will find that East cannot overruff, and now you can cross to hand with the club queen and draw the remaining trump. If you forget to ruff in dummy, West scores an extra trump trick, to defeat the game.

Making 10 tricks in spades will surely score North-South well, since many pairs will misjudge the bidding or the play here.

The two diamond call shows a club raise, and after the double your weakest action is to bid three clubs – but I think your quick tricks make your hand too strong for that. I would redouble to show the diamond ace, trying to right-side no-trump if your partner has queen-third or even jack-third of diamonds.


♠ 6 3
 10 7 6
 A 5
♣ A K 6 4 3 2
South West North East
2 ♣ Pass 2 Dbl.

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 WarheitAugust 16th, 2016 at 9:52 am

After ruffing the 3d H, I think S does better by leading the S10 at trick 4. If E should have the Q and wins, no problem, as long as S are no worse than 4-2. If W has the Q and does not play it, cash SAK and start playing your C & D winners. If W does play the Q, you are in exactly the same position that the actual declarer found himself in. The advantage of this line of play is when E has 2 spades and one of them is either the 8 or 9, but W ducks the S10. Note that declarer can reasonably assume that W has the SQ, since otherwise he overcalled holding only AKJ52 of H and at most a couple of jacks in the minor suits.

jim2August 16th, 2016 at 11:35 am

I would note that, on the fourth round of hearts, the only trump remaining in the North hand would be the six.

bobbywolffAugust 16th, 2016 at 2:16 pm

Hi David,

No doubt, your play as declarer at trick 4, after ruffing the third heart in hand has merit and, if West elects to duck his queen (assuming he has it), you will be much better placed.

However, why should West not know that you must have the AKJ along with at least 5 card length and of course, the desire to keep trump control of the hand by having the trump in dummy serve as a potential buffer against East being the defender with at least 4 trump?

Continuing and assuming that West after passing was relatively short in spades with likely diamond length for his vulnerable heart intervention, at least to me it is entirely likely that if East was dealt 5 spades to the queen that the hand could still be made by an elopement, eventually taking five spade tricks three diamonds and two clubs or instead, though not as likely, two diamonds and three clubs.

While my immediate thoughts were the same as yours, by merely leading the 10 of spades from hand at trick 4, I think it is more likely
that East, rather than West, will have the long spades and if so, crossing to the dummy to lead the first one may still get home safely.

Also, of course a bad club break is in the mix, and, if so, it likely could be necessary to not lose a trick to the trump queen.

Granted with the adverse 4-2 trump break plus the queen being offside, South was indeed very fortunate that West had both the spade 8 and 9, but bridge columns writers being who they are, like to have happy endings for their lines of play, although this hand was supposedly real and apparently computer shuffled.

bobbywolffAugust 16th, 2016 at 2:27 pm

Hi Jim2,

No doubt the declarer did in fact ruff with the spade six, and the emphasis should have only been ruffing in dummy, not the one (and only) he decided to ruff with.

Which reminded me of the famous comedian Jimmy Durante (in that day and age) used to use as his distinctive calling card, “I’m surrounded by assassins”, although, and too often, I deserve to be.

jim2August 16th, 2016 at 3:08 pm

If I recall correctly, he used to say he had a million of them.

bobbywolffAugust 16th, 2016 at 3:26 pm

Hi Jim2,

And he said it to Gary Moore, his sidekick, who then were known as “The Nose and the Hair-Cut”.

TedAugust 16th, 2016 at 3:51 pm

Hi Bobby,

With the actual layout, when declarer finesses the spade, is it better for West to duck the Q and hope South gets greedy and tries a second finesse, or to take the Q and hope partner has the spade 7? Does the answer vary depending if it’s teams or matchpoints?

bobbywolffAugust 17th, 2016 at 12:01 am

Hi Ted,

The correct answer probably does not concern itself mostly with either eventuality,

The reason being is that, South the declarer could easily have only AKJ75, instead of the AKJ105 making it foolish to not score a second spade trick, if in fact partner has the ten. NO doubt any good declarer will finesse the jack, not the ten (although equal) in order to not give a greater hint to what he actually held. Of course it is also possible for declarer to have started with only AK10xx making the duck of the ten just as bad.

Of course, the defense can do whatever they think, with the mindset of defeating that contract, but to duck the jack (or ten) is no less dangerous than playing with an open fire.

Better to not be brilliant and thought a fool, than to venture out and prove one is.

And, of course, the same would apply at either IMPs or matchpoints, although better to occur at matchpoints since there are two less players to account to.

However, by asking that question you’ll be learning something worth knowing. Unless you are sure the play you are considering, is not a mirage, simply do not make it.

In the long run (your whole future bridge life), you’ll come out far ahead by taking your tricks, unless you know that it wrong to do so.

internet providers near meAugust 20th, 2016 at 3:25 pm

In my day (back in the ark ages off the internet),
our household must take turns to make use of
the one laptop, after which there would be the compulsory fight when someone had
been utilizing it for too lengthy.