Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, October 6th, 2016

The chapter of knowledge is very short, but the chapter of accidents is a very long one.

Lord Chesterfield

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


South is full value for his overcall of one spade. He has excellent intermediates and three sure spade tricks, no matter how the suit may break. Additionally, the strong hearts should provide two or more tricks on any but the most unlucky day. Since North would want to reach game opposite an opening bid but has no real slam interest, he should simply bid game and not give the opponents a chance to come back in.

After the lead of the diamond 10 the defenders take their top diamonds and ruff a diamond before South can get started. At this point South needs the rest of the tricks. At first glance it seems that the contract will depend on the heart finesse. If South looks no further he will draw trump and lead the heart jack from dummy. That will prove unlucky – but not that unlucky since South will have overlooked his extra chance.

Consider that West may have started out with only two trumps. South can lose nothing by trying for this possibility. At trick four South comes to hand with a trump to lead the established diamond nine. If West can ruff in, dummy will over-ruff; then declarer will draw another round of trump and fall back on the heart finesse.

But fortunately for South, today West will be unable to ruff his diamond winner. Now declarer can discard a heart from the dummy on the diamond nine, then cash the heart ace, and cross-ruff the hand in peace and quiet.

When partner competes over a take-out double, you should only join in a second time if you have extras in high cards or shape. Here you have neither so you have an easy pass. For the record: double if the club two were the king, raise to three diamonds with your minors switched.


♠ A Q 7
 J 2
 Q J 4
♣ A 7 5 4 2
South West North East
    Pass 1
Dbl. 1 ♠ 2 2

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


Iain ClimieOctober 20th, 2016 at 8:04 pm

Hi Bobby,

Isn’t there an extra, extra chance here, based on Zia’s “If they don’t cover they don’t have it” advice. Lead the HJ off table after the club Ace wins and see if East flickers. If not, take the Ace, cash two trumps, cash the D9 throwing a heart and take a ruffing finesse in hearts. Whether this psychological line is better than the one you suggest, I’m not sure, but any thoughts here?



bobby wolffOctober 20th, 2016 at 10:20 pm

Hi Iain,

It usually becomes just too subjective in determining odds when whether or not a very good player will cover an honor (which is, of course) after the defense has achieved book by taking the first three tricks. Sometimes, just instincts kick in, making that very same player cover, but at other times, not.

Zia, with everyone’s favorite quote, conveniently leaving out describing the surrounding circumstances, before the electrifying moment, might be thought to not bringing alive the “Rest of the Story”.

However (at least to me) when bridge becomes a poker game, instead of just technical skill, the very best players shine by simply just taking the winning line.

My experience has convinced me that when East does not cover, it will 1. be done ethically and 2. those odds will stay exactly as they were, before the lead of the jack of hearts.

None of the above is designed to not admire your subject line, since maybe you, as declarer, seem to own the psychology when jousting with that particular RHO, but no trails will be blazed with whatever is decided, since only he and you, will be featured.

Perhaps the most poignant quote may have come from Al Davis, the former owner of the NFL’s Oakland Raiders, when he simply advised his team, “Just win, baby”.

ThurmanOctober 24th, 2016 at 2:57 pm

Thanks for sharing your thoughts about discover here. Regards