Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

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

Nothing is more indisputable than the existence of our senses.

Jean Le Rond d’Alembert

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


Today’s deal from last year’s spring nationals at Reno sees South toiling in two spades on a diamond lead from West. When East covers West’s diamond with the 10 to preserve the defenders’ communications, South must win the diamond king. What next?

At the table South decided to take his side winners before the rats got at them, and took the club queen and ace, then played a second diamond. East cashed his two diamonds, West discarding the heart five.

Now instead of exiting in trump (perhaps indicated, since declarer had not gone after spades himself) East played a heart, ducked to West’s king. West got out with a top club, and East ruffed in with the spade eight. South could over-ruff and lead the spade six, which West won to play the fourth club. When declarer ruffed again, he had taken five of the first nine tricks, and now had to guess West’s original shape to make his contract.

If West had begun with 4=3=2=4 shape, it would have been correct to lead ace and a second heart. West would have had to ruff his partner’s winner and lead into South’s tenace in trumps. But if East is down to two cards in each major, you must play the spade ace and another spade now. West will have to win and break hearts for you. Which is the better line?

Play for the latter position. West would have exited in hearts rather than lead the fourth club, if he had begun with a doubleton heart. That play would have assured him an additional trump trick.

One school of thought here wants to keep the auction open in case your side can make game (this seems unlikely to me). That school gives false preference to two spades, hoping that a 5-2 fit may play better than a possible 4-3 fit. The second school believes the weak spade doubleton argues for passing and hoping partner has five hearts or needs spade ruffs in dummy. Put me narrowly in that camp.


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