Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Saturday, August 27th, 2016

Somewhere in the world there is an epigram for every dilemma.

Henrik Willem van Loon

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



At the table, in six diamonds on a trump lead, declarer drew trump and led ace and another spade, hoping to guess the suit. This was essentially a 50% line, and it failed when he put in the 10. Can you do better?

One improvement is to play a low spade up after drawing trump, planning to put in the 10 if West ducks smoothly. Even if you misguess, you may recover with a major-suit squeeze. This comes to roughly a two-thirds chance.

Another approach is to go after hearts. Lead low to the ace, low to the king and then play a third heart. This works when hearts break or East has a singleton or doubleton honor, or when West has some specific doubletons. But if hearts don’t behave, you have virtually no chance. This line comes in at sixty percent. Granted, if you prefer to back your judgment after two top hearts to go after spades, you may survive a 4-2 heart break.

But on balance I prefer drawing trump, cashing off the clubs, then leading to the heart ace and playing a heart back to the seven. If hearts are 3-3 you are home, and if West has a singleton honor, honor-fourth or four low cards, you have the 12th trick. And you still have a chance if West has either a doubleton honor or doubleton heart nine. He must win the second heart and then lead spades for you – giving you the contract half of the rest of the time. The combined chances amount to close to 70 percent.

This sequence should be played as game-forcing with long clubs, suggesting a side four-card major, in this case spades of course. Your partner should have doubt about strain or level, but since you have the other two suits well guarded, and no extra values or real black-suit fit, just bid three no-trump. Let partner go past three no-trump if he wants to, but don’t encourage him to do so.


♠ Q 10 4
 A 10 8 2
 K Q 8 3
♣ K Q
South West North East
1 NT Pass 2 ♣ 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


Patrick CheuSeptember 11th, 2016 at 8:31 am

Hi Bobby,If declarer plays a low spade to the ten losing to JS,your mentioning of the major suit squeeze as a possible recovery is worth noting,though maybe not on this hand..also wonder how many Wests would play low with the King smoothly..this line has more tension perhaps? regards~Patrick.

BryanSeptember 12th, 2016 at 2:19 pm

How about going for more info to make choice of plays. Start with 3 rounds of trumps to see what each op discards on the 3rd trump before they know what is going on? Cash both of dummy clubs (do not also cash the ace as not sure at this point if need to discard a spade or heart from dummy.) Then a heart back to the King. This will get a key card (9 hearts) plus some info from clubs and the discards.

Not sure how to rate what to do next as depends on if ops signaled count, and what they choose to discard.