Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Saturday, February 18th, 2017

It is the test of true theories not only to account for but to predict phenomena.

William Whewell

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


Today’s deal looks very straightforward, but you will have to keep your wits about you to make the right play, after North makes a calculated overbid when he bids four spades over four hearts. Technically, the call is unjustified, but once in a while you have to stretch in auctions where the opponents preempt.

To start with, when the defenders lead two rounds of hearts, you must take care to ruff the second heart with a high intermediate, preserving an entry to dummy. Play a spade to dummy and a second trump. East wins his king and exits with the club queen, which you duck. When you win the club ace and ruff a club, everyone following, you can trump dummy’s remaining heart high, at which point you have now achieved a complete count on the hand… haven’t you?

Since you’ve seen all the spades appear, and East has discarded on the third heart, and West has followed to three clubs, you have seen 12 of his 13 cards.

That lets you lead a diamond to the ace. Because you have retained the spade seven in dummy and the six in hand you can lead a diamond towards your hand, and when East splits his honors you can cross back to dummy and repeat the diamond finesse.

If you had not unblocked in trumps, you would not have an entry to dummy at trick 11, and East could split his honors to defeat the contract.

Do you feel lucky? I can’t say it comes with a guarantee, but when the opponents have announced a fit, and you have the opportunity to balance, you should take it whenever it looks close. Bid two no-trumps, in principle for the minors. The reason is that this keeps the auction open, and gives the opponents a chance to make a mistake, if they want to.


♠ K J
 5 3
 J 10 8 3
♣ Q J 10 7 4
South West North East
      1 ♠
Pass 2 ♠ 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