Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, February 6th, 2017

But I was one and twenty, No use to talk to me.

A. E. Housman

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



Loose lips sink ships, they say. When one of the eventual defenders contributes a bid during the auction, declarer will occasionally be gifted valuable information, which he must take care to use intelligently.

While that may be obvious, it can occasionally be equally important to remember when the defenders have had the opportunity to bid but declined to o so.

Suppose West did not open the bidding and has already shown up with 10 points. He is unlikely to hold a missing queen, and so you can confidently finesse his partner for that card. Today’s deal is a fine example of this theme, where the best play is indicated by a bid that a defender did not make.

When West leads the heart king against your spade game and switches to the club six, how will you play the contract?

You can confidently assume West holds the heart ace-king. Since he is a passed hand, he cannot also hold both the diamond ace and spade queen. So after winning the club switch with the ace, you should cash the spade ace and then finesse the spade jack. If the finesse loses to the spade queen with West, you can be sure that the diamond ace will be onside and you will still make the contract. The finesse gains when the cards lie as in the diagram, because you avoid losing a trump trick. Today, if you play for the drop in trumps, you will go down.

You have no attractive or even passive lead available, so you have to listen to the auction and trust your opponents. Declarer appeared to need help from dummy in clubs and dummy did not provide it. That suggests to me that a club lead is more likely to strike gold in partner’s hand than a heart.


♠ 8 4
 Q 7 6 3
 K 8 3
♣ K 5 4 2
South West North East
Pass 1 Pass 1 ♠
Pass 2 ♠ Pass 3 ♣
Pass 3 ♠ 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