Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, December 26th, 2016

Death is the privilege of human nature,
And life without it were not worth our taking.

Nicholas Rowe

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


Today’s deal from a team game saw North take an aggressive position to drive to game facing a strong no-trump. His good club spots persuaded him to go high rather than to explore, and give the opponents a chance to overcall or double an artificial call.

Now switch to the South seat. When West leads the diamond four against three no-trump, plan the play.

You appear to be well on your way to nine tricks: three spades, two red aces, and at least four club tricks. Even a 4-0 club break onside won’t necessarily cause you any problems.

The only real danger may come from a 5-2 diamond break, when you might lose four diamonds and a club. In some circumstances it would be right for you to duck the first trick but not here. That is because if you are going to lose the lead via the failing club finesse, it would be to West.

Since you cannot keep West off lead, can you block the diamonds? You may well be able to do so. East might have begun with a doubleton queen or jack of course, in which case you are sunk, but otherwise he will surely have two of the four missing high diamonds. If so, then when you rise with the diamond ace at once, West won’t be able to cash four diamonds even if he does get in with the club king. So win trick one with the diamond ace and take the club finesse. As the cards lie, the finesse loses, but the defenders cannot run the diamonds.

The no-trump calls to your right should not unduly alarm you. Lead your long suit, the one you know partner has at least some length in, rather than experimenting with either minor suit – each of which could score a goal, or an own goal.


♠ K Q 2
 J 7 5 3
 J 6 4
♣ 5 3 2
South West North East
Pass 1 ♠ Dbl. 1 NT
2 Pass Pass 2 NT
All 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


Iain ClimieJanuary 9th, 2017 at 10:05 am

Hi Bobby,

One minor problem here. South takes the DA, then runs the CJ. It wins with West showing out. How does South now unravel the spades? Is it better to play a club to the Queen, cash 2 spades and then play a club to the Jack. If East holds off with C4-0 onside you can cash the SK and take 4C tricks. If he takes the CK youalso get 4 club tricks.

Am I missing something (it is Monday after all)?



A V Ramana RaoJanuary 9th, 2017 at 11:38 am

Hi Lain
Again I assume tacit permission from our host.
If clubs are 4-0 with east west, you score Five club tricks and two spades will be sufficient for adding up to nine. Keep on repeating the club finesse and finally overtake Q of spades in dummy for cashing fifth club

Iain ClimieJanuary 9th, 2017 at 12:01 pm


Yes it is Monday, that works nicely too although I quite like the backwards and forwards play in clubs after a club to the queen. Thanks, though.


A V Ramana RaoJanuary 9th, 2017 at 12:13 pm

Hi lain
A small point. If clubs are 4-0 with east west, you always make the contract by repeating club finesse but may go down by resorting to backward and forward play in clubs in case the diamonds do not get blocked just in case. One never knows

Iain ClimieJanuary 9th, 2017 at 12:25 pm

Mind you, if West improbably has 4C and South doesn’t play the,Q or A on the Jack at T2, West just ducks and now South has blocked things. Partial excavation from the hole I dug for myself?


bobby wolffJanuary 9th, 2017 at 5:25 pm

Hi Iain & AVRR,

Once East follows to the first club, it then is not necessary for declarer to play the queen as only East can hold 4 clubs not West. Therefore it is not necessary, nor wise, to then play the queen just in case East has three or four clubs. especially if the king is onside and West decided to lead the 4 of diamonds from KJ1042.

Of course, if East has 4 clubs the game is in severe jeopardy anyway since the only entry back to dummy is in clubs and then, since East will hold off winning the club to the last possible moment forcing declarer when your proposed plan of a club to the queen winning with West showing out, then the AQ of spades cashing and ace and another club which East must again duck.

This leaves East, if holding s. any six of them
h. singleton, diamonds K10 and failing to unblock the king, clubs Kxxx as Iain the only one with this configuration of cards in the history of the game (if, of course declarer cashes the ace of hearts and, of course, the AQ of spades from hand before throwing East in with the last club) the only player in the history of the game to make 3NT, even if it is played infinity times. Quite a feat.

Since I have checked the above only a few times, I am much more likely to have made an error in analysis than the above to have occurred, but in any event it is a good practical exercise to test oneself, if he or she is really a true bridge lover.

Again, of course, and only for purity sake (East not having to jettison the diamond king from K10 doubleton, give East the singleton 10 of diamonds with West leading 5th best from KQJ and then of course East”s dealt hand 4 clubs, the already mentioned singleton 10 of diamonds singleton heart or possibly KQ, KQJ, or KQJ10 and the rest spades.

Where is David (or Jim2) when we need at least one of them?

Iain ClimieJanuary 9th, 2017 at 5:31 pm

Hi Bobby,

At the table I’d have played DA (and East does play a helpful card as the cards are shown) then run the CJ. It was only mention of the 4-0 break that made me start thinking and my wife can tell you the mayhem that can cause away from the table. Sorry about all that but thanks for yor reply.


jim2January 9th, 2017 at 5:35 pm

Sorry! On a deadline!

No analysis time — barely time to read.


A V Ramana RaoJanuary 9th, 2017 at 5:47 pm

Hi Dear Mr. Wolff
What I meant was Declarer can win A of diamonds and lead J of clubs playing low from hand. If west wins, you hope diamonds get blocked. And if east happens to have all four clubs, you repeat the finesse in clubs till end if east does not cover and overtake spade Q in dummy with K for cashing fifth club finally for scoring the contract with two Spades, five clubs and two red Aces.

bobby wolffJanuary 10th, 2017 at 6:17 pm

Hi Iain, harassed Jim2, & AVRR,

God’s now in his heaven, all is right with the world, at least on this bridge hand. Much thanks for that.