Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, August 16th, 2016

The Beautiful arises from the perceived harmony of an object, whether sight or sound, with the inborn constitutive rules of the judgment and imagination: it is always intuitive.

Samuel Taylor Coleridge

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


While three no-trump has nine top tricks on today’s deal, it was hard for South to reach that contract when missing a club stopper, but with unbiddable extra values. One can see the argument for temporizing with three hearts over the three-club cuebid. But that might get you to no-trump the wrong way up, with a spade lead coming through the exposed king.

Anyway, South faced the prospect of making five diamonds after West led the club king. There was nothing to be gained by ducking the trick – West could have been endplayed later on in the hand, but that would not gain declarer a trick. Instead, the lead had to be taken with dummy’s ace.

Trumps were drawn by cashing the diamond ace, and dummy’s heart king won the third trick. Coming to hand with a trump, South discarded a club from dummy on the heart ace. now after ruffing the last heart in dummy, declarer crossed his fingers (hoping the club jack was to his left) and led a club.

West had to take this trick, of course, or else declarer would avoid losing a club altogether. But now he found himself endplayed, forced either to lead away from the spade ace or to concede a ruff and discard. Either way, declarer would hold his spade losers to one.

Discarding from club length in dummy on the heart ace, rather than pitching a spade, may appear somewhat counter-intuitive. North’s club is not a loser, since it can be ruffed, but getting rid of that card completes the endplay.

It looks obvious to bid three no-trump, but I prefer temporizing with three hearts, suggesting a single stopper. You can maneuver to make partner declarer if he has a stopper such as the queen, while avoiding playing no-trump if he has heart shortage. Your hand is very suitable for play in both spades and diamonds, after all.


♠ K 5
 A 6 2
 K Q J 10 6 2
♣ 10 9
South West North East
1 Pass 1 ♠ Pass
2 Pass 3 ♣ 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


Bobby WolffAugust 30th, 2016 at 3:18 pm

Yesterday’s hand and its later discussion has “goosed” me into trying to simplify declarer’s play with the hope of attempting to focus on what is possible and often a “slam dunk” rather than linger on unimportant aspects which, in other words, are impossible to overcome, and not worth considering.

On today’s hand there appears to be no way to avoid playing up to the king of spades therefore having the result dependent on which opponent holds the ace. That thought then becomes negative since the bidding (the vulnerable 2 club overcall should suggest that the result will then fail since West rather than East is more likely to hold it.

Therefore the declarer’s thought should look for other ways to turn around that eventuality.

Lo and behold, it exists, as this column proves and with not that much effort required, only the ability to eliminate a later heart exit, but with also the seemingly meaningless discard of dummy’s extra club on the ace of hearts.

What makes bridge more difficult are these seemingly contra intuitive plays which appear much more often than most of us realize.

I’ll leave it up to the individual reader to learn to gird himself to “cut to the chase” (finding a way to make those worthy opponents not being able to avoid allowing me to have my way and force them to either give me a contract making ruff and sluff or lead up, rather than through, my vulnerable spade king).

With bridge columns the reward is always good, while in real life, sometimes it doesn’t make any difference such as the ace of spades being with East, but in either case, the pride which goes along with proper and high-level play is a separate issue and should be just as thrilling as when it matters not.

Do not spend much, if any time, worrying about going set if the ace of spades is where it is likely to be, but rather concentrate on trying to avoid it having to be that way.

Therein is the secret since all effort (and most bridge hands require at least some) the time at the table will be spent properly, not in dealing with things beyond our control.

Irwin RosmnanAugust 30th, 2016 at 4:47 pm

Is there a “best” response to a 2C opening bid?

Bobby WolffAugust 30th, 2016 at 5:18 pm

Hi Irwin,

And welcome to the site.

The “best” response has to do with the partnership deciding. If interested in high-level opportunity, perhaps controls is best as a preliminary in determining slams. If casual, but sophisticated enough for some artificiality then points, but if primarily social, though with intent to win, then maybe merely waiting (which is currently likely in the huge majority).

Of course, my recommendation would be crawling before one walks, but only that partnership should assess where they now stand, with the added proviso of not biting off more than they can chew, by being able to remember first and then start the “up” process from there.

The only addition is that those two partners need to be painfully honest to each other, thus creating no unhappy surprises soon thereafter.

If this sounds like a marriage in the making, it , in a sense, is similar, only the stakes are higher (only kidding, but barely).

BTW, Good Luck and keep us informed how your partnership (assuming there is one) is doing.