Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, February 17th, 2017

The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.

George Bernard Shaw

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


Today’s deal sees an interesting problem for East. You may care to focus just on your own hand and North, the dummy, while covering up the other two hands.

After overcalling one spade over one club, you see your partner lead the spade seven. What is your plan to find a way to five tricks on defense?

It looks logical to take the first spade with the queen and shift to hearts – and perhaps the heart jack is the best card. But realistically can this ever beat the contract? If your partner has decent hearts, the club suit is surely running for declarer.

No, paradoxically, East must duck the first trick rather than taking his king or queen, playing the most encouraging spot card in his methods. Declarer will win cheaply and play a club towards dummy’s queen. West will rise with the ace to return a spade. East can then win the second club and run the spades.

This duck compels declarer to win the first spade, while your partner still has a spade to return when in with the club ace. Note that your play will not give declarer a free trick in spades, since the auction marks him with a second spade guard.

Also note that your partner must win the first club and knock out declarer’s last spade stopper while you retain the club king as an entry. If your partner holds up in clubs, you will be forced to win the club king before your spades are established.

I don’t often upgrade 14-counts into a strong no-trump, but if ever there was a hand that cried out to be treated as 15 points, this is it. There are two reasons for this: the first is that your solid club intermediates offer a lot of playing strength. Secondly, you are not averse to preempting the opponents out of the majors – and a no-trump opener works better than a one club opener — especially in third seat.


♠ A 6
 K 8 3
 K J 5
♣ Q J 10 8 4
South West North East
    Pass 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