Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, March 3rd, 2017

Insight is not a lightbulb that goes off inside our heads. It is a flickering candle that can easily be snuffed out.

Malcolm Gladwell

W North
None ♠ A K 2
 A Q
 A Q 7 5 4
♣ 8 6 3
West East
♠ 7
 K J 10 9 3
 K J 9 3
♣ K Q J
♠ 8 6 4
 8 7 6 4 2
♣ A 10 9 5
♠ Q J 10 9 5 3
 8 6 2
♣ 7 4 2
South West North East
  1 Dbl. 3
3 ♠ 4 Dbl. Pass
4 ♠ All pass    


Today’s deal saw South compete to three spades at his first turn by virtue of his nice shape. When his partner doubled four hearts to show extra values it was relatively clear because of his lack of defense to remove to four spades.

At the table the defenders led the club king, and continued with the queen, then jack, overtaken by East for a trump shift. What happened at the table was that declarer won in hand and ran six rounds of trumps, on which West carefully discarded four hearts, baring his heart king, then finally a diamond, trying to simulate a man who was being forced to unguard diamonds. At this point declarer had to make a pitch from dummy with the ace-queen of hearts and ace-queen-third of diamonds left. He got it wrong when he discarded the heart queen, playing for the diamonds to run, and now had to go down.

Declarer would have done better with a slightly counter-intuitive strategy here. He should win the spade ace and does best first to cash the heart ace, then run all the trumps.

For this line to succeed, all declarer requires is for West to hold the heart king, and at least three diamonds to the king. By cashing the heart ace early, it saves you any guess as to which cards West has kept. If the heart king is not discarded, you will know to pitch the heart queen from dummy at trick 10, and hope that the diamonds will be running.

Jump to two no-trump showing your range as 18-19 high card points. You should not worry about the absence of a club stopper, since you have three cards in that suit. For the record, if you had a doubleton club and three hearts you might consider inventing a force of two spades, planning to raise hearts at the next turn, I suppose.


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