Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, January 9th, 2017

It is a place with only one post a day…In the country I always fear that creation will expire before tea-time.

Sydney Smith

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



After South opens one spade, North is too strong to raise to two spades but is not quite right for a limit raise to three spades. He plans to describe this hand by first bidding a forcing no-trump, then raising to three spades. However, when South shows a sixth spade, North should just up and bid game. A raise to three spades would be right were the spade jack the club jack.

After East wins the first two hearts and shifts to a club, South wins and can see he might lose two hearts, one diamond and one club. His best chance is to establish a long diamond, which will be easy if diamonds split three-three. But if they split four-two, dummy’s entries must be handled carefully.

South must duck a diamond at trick four. When West wins and returns a club, South can afford to cash only one high spade from his hand, since dummy’s trumps will be needed for entries to the diamonds. He then leads a diamond to the ace, ruffs a diamond high, leads a trump to dummy, ruffs another diamond high, and leads one more trump to dummy.

Trump having finally been drawn, South is in dummy where he wants to be, to cash the long diamond for his 10th trick.

Note that if South draws even one round of trump before ducking the diamond, the defense could then play a second round of spades, using up one of dummy’s entries prematurely. In turn, the defenders could set the game by shifting to trump at trick three.

Since the opponents appear to have about 24 HCP between them, to have invited game and stopped in two no-trump, you can tell that marks partner with a relatively light overcall. The lighter his hand, the more likely that he has a decent spade suit. So I would lead my singleton, rather than getting aggressive and leading a club. The spade won’t do anything for declarer that he can’t do for himself.


♠ 7
 Q 9 7 3 2
 K 5
♣ Q 9 7 4 3
South West North East
Pass 1 1 ♠ 1 NT
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 2017. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact


Iain ClimieJanuary 23rd, 2017 at 1:08 pm

Hi Bobby,

Do you think east should find the trump switch at T3 single dummy as if south had (say) DKJ and CKxx it is a disaster. What should east’s thought processes be here (as opposed to leading the CJ about 2s after taking the 2nd heart which would be mine)?



Iain ClimieJanuary 23rd, 2017 at 1:09 pm

Sorry DKJx CKx.

bobby wolffJanuary 23rd, 2017 at 3:14 pm

Hi Iain,

Possibly, but not terribly likely since some holdings by partner may include Qxx in trumps.

However, that is not to say that any right guess defensively should not first be considered and then, if thought percentage, simply executed.

However, I can imagine the talk by his then partner afterward, condemning that defense, might go something like, “My ox was dealt J109 in the suit most defenders would normally switch to automatically, but, hating me, he gave up my Qxx in trumps without a trace of conscience”. “He should know by now that Dame Fortune, always a lady, didn’t deal him J109 by accident”.

And East’s counter, of course privately, “All that time instead, those bridge column jerks contrived that hand to get the defense to go relatively seemly so that others, lacking my superior imagination, would let another “hand which should be set” instead, go through”!

slarJanuary 24th, 2017 at 2:11 am

As a follow-up to a weekend question, I held J/KJ97/JT983/AQ2 and passed in second position. I didn’t like my continuations after a 1S response or the notion of inviting the opponents into a spade contract and I figured I would be able to balance if the opponents found 2S. This earned a top because the hand was passed out and the field was either giving up a spade partial or going down in 3D. Lucky or good?

bobby wolffJanuary 24th, 2017 at 4:45 pm

Hi Slar,

My guess would be 60% lucky and 40% good.

The good part revolves around almost everything you were suspicious about, became real and missing the boss suit became the difference.

However, at least IMO, the percentage difference is that a 5-4-3-1 distribution (any) is often a powerful one with three, not two suits available to find a fit with partner, next, your spot cards were way above average and finally the queen of clubs being with the ace will normally assume much greater potential as a full trick if your partner has either the jack or especially the king and even left to its own device should still be valued as over half a trick since it might be led up to or at the very least, a finesse may be on side.

However, an important adage in bridge is “let the winner explain” and that you did and deserve to feel good about your winning decision.