Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, September 23rd, 2016

Can an Ethiopian change his skin, or a leopard his spots


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


Today, you will be faced with two problems. First play three no-trump on the given hands after the lead of the spade jack. Then play the same contract, but with the club eight not the seven in hand.

With the given cards, your best chance comes from the clubs. Cash the club ace and continue the suit, if both follow. Even if East has king-jack-third, and shifts to a low heart you will simply play low from hand. Then the best the defense can do is to take two heart tricks and two clubs.

But say East had four clubs, as here. Now if you play a second club the defense will win the race to establish West’s spades. So your only hope for a ninth trick is in the heart suit.

Best is to lead a low heart towards the jack. This works when East has the ace or West has the heart queen. Here, West will rise with the queen and play a spade. You will win and force out the heart ace by playing a low heart to dummy’s jack. As indicated above, if East had the heart queen you would need him also to have the heart ace.

So what difference does the club eight make? You can ensure your contract by leading a club toward the queen initially. If East has four clubs he does best to win and return a spade. You win and lead a club to the nine, then use diamond entries to dummy to finesse in clubs and establish the suit for your nine tricks.

In the absence of complex partnership agreements to describe this hand, you may be better off simply making a quantitative jump to four notrump. This focuses on the minors and lets partner judge his range and shape better than you can. Incidentally, this is one of the very few sequences where Gerber would apply.


♠ 6 5
 J 5
 K Q J 6
♣ Q 9 5 3 2
South West North East
  Pass 2 ♣ Pass
2 Pass 2 NT 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