Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Saturday, August 13th, 2016

To expect the unexpected shows a thoroughly modern intellect.

Oscar Wilde

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


**Texas transfer


This is a splendid declarer play problem from last summer’s Grand National Teams at the Chicago NABC.

In four spades East wins the diamond lead with the ace, and after some reflection, shifts to the club king. Play on. At the table, South won an early club and played the diamond king. When West ruffed, declarer was out of chances as the cards lay.

The winning line, even seeing all four hands, isn’t that easy to spot. The point is that it is easy to make the hand if diamonds break 5-2; your target is to bring home the game when diamonds are 6-1. After the diamond lead and club shift, you must duck the club king, to cut the defenders’ communications for a trump promotion. Win the next club and play the diamond 10 from hand.

If West pitches, discard dummy’s last club. After losing to the diamond queen, you plan to draw trump and pitch two hearts on the diamond king and the now established jack. If West ruffs in on the diamond 10, overruff, and draw two rounds of trump, ending in hand. The key is that you have forced West to ruff a loser, so now he is out of trump. That lets you cash the diamond king to pitch the club, and you will eventually be able to ruff dummy’s third heart in hand.

The see-saw effect, of determining which suits you want to ruff in hand or dummy, and the challenge of how to neutralize the opponents’ trumps seems especially attractive to me.

It is a subtle point that a call of two spades, which I recommend here, should be constructive, not simply weak – whereas if your partner had rebid two clubs, that inference would not be available. The point is that with a weak hand and no diamond fit you can pass two diamonds here, confident that diamonds will be playable facing shortage; that safety does not exist facing a two-club rebid.


♠ K Q 8 6 4 2
 A J 3
♣ 9 5 2
South West North East
  Pass 1 Pass
1 ♠ Pass 2 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


Michael BeyroutiAugust 27th, 2016 at 11:44 am

Dear Host,
today’s BWTA advice is tough to swallow. I am not sure I agree with what I think I understood. With six spades and a weaker hand I would still tend to rebid two spades rather than pass two diamonds.
At any rate, what should this South hand bid facing a two-club rebid?
P.S. The AOB hand is indeed a pure delight. I wonder how many declarers made their contract.

Mircea1August 27th, 2016 at 1:06 pm

Hi Bobby,

Given the auction shown, what would have been your choice of opening leads in the column hand? Somehow my intuition tells me that leading from strength here should take over leading the singleton. I’m not sure it makes a difference, though

jim2August 27th, 2016 at 2:40 pm

Another line might be to win the AC (on the second club is best technique but not necessary here) and lead a heart. Assuming West splits, win the AH, draw trump ending in hand, cash the KD (pitching club) and lead a second heart. Declarer scores 6 spades, 2 hearts, one diamond, and one club = 10 tricks.

Bobby WolffAugust 27th, 2016 at 4:06 pm

Hi Michael,

No doubt, with this hand (BWTA) 2 spades should definitely be rebid, and the extra advice given would only apply to s. Jxxxxx, h. Axx, d. xx, c. Jx when and if, partner rebids 2 diamonds instead of 2 clubs, it then would seem prudent to just pass, content with finding a possibly safer contract with eight likely trump instead of perhaps only 7 (partner having a singleton and opposite a weak 6).

The salient point which should rule is that when partner rebids his suit rather than the amorphous 2 clubs, he has diamonds (often at least 6) but if he rebids 2 clubs he could be, 5-5, 5-4, or even 4-5 although of course he could be longer in both.

In any case, with today’s hand the rebid of 2 spades clearly, as you no doubt feel, deserves and needs to be rebid. Some aggressive good players might even consider a jump (though NF) rebid of 3 spades if holding the jack of spades also along with the KQ, to which I may very well agree is justified.

Thanks for writing about your concerns, and I hope now they are clearly satisfied.

Bobby WolffAugust 27th, 2016 at 4:18 pm

Hi Mircea1,

How about, Queen of clubs=10, King of hearts=7 (because of no lead directing double to his LHO’s artificial transfer and no double by partner which obviously should show the ace) and the Diamond singleton=4, because of the J9x sometimes producing a trick on its own.

You seem to be correct that no lead should set the contract, but that fact should not stop us from discussing what we think of percentage choices.

Bobby WolffAugust 27th, 2016 at 4:36 pm

Hi Jim2,

Yes, your line would succeed, but doesn’t the loser on loser diamond play appeal more than the finding of both the king and queen of hearts in a favorable location?

In any event those loser on loser plays seen to be more gratifying and since TOCM continues to deal you more losers than others, you will need to call the exterminator more often than most bridge players.