Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, August 4th, 2016

Coyote is always out there waiting, and Coyote is always hungry.

Navajo proverb

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


Today’s deal shows that defensive signaling may be critical for each member of the partnership to plan the defense. But an intelligent declarer can listen in on the signals and can sometimes take advantage of the information conveyed to make an ‘impossible’ contract.

When West led a top diamond against four spades, East followed with a small card, and West sensibly shifted to a club. Declarer could see that he needed to accomplish three things: he needed to draw trump, set up the hearts to pitch his club losers, and ruff away his losing diamonds.

Accordingly, he won the club king and led a heart to the 10, king and ace. Back came a second club, so South won it in dummy and needed to work out how to bring home his game, given that West appeared to have two hearts. He decided that he needed West to have 2=2=6=3 distribution. So he ruffed a heart to hand, cashed the spade ace and king, then ruffed a diamond. Next he cashed the heart queen and jack, pitching clubs as East impotently followed suit, while all West could do was discard diamonds. Although East could trump in on the fifth heart, declarer could get rid of his last diamond loser and claim the rest.

The key was that West felt obliged to signal honestly on the first round of hearts to his partner. Had declarer believed that hearts were three-three, he might have cashed two top spades, ruffed a diamond to dummy, and tried to run the hearts.

There is no right answer here. Should you open one heart (the call you’d surely make if you were in first or second seat)? Should you open two hearts – the bid you would make if you were in fourth seat, or perhaps second seat vulnerable? Or should you put your opponents under maximum pressure and open three hearts? All of these actions are reasonable – but I think I like the two heart opening bid best.


♠ J 4 3
 K Q J 6 5 2
♣ A 7 4
South West North East
    Pass 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

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