Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, March 21st, 2017

If I see an ending, I can work backward.

Arthur Miller

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

*7-9 with three spades


When you open a major suit doubled on your left, your partner will often want to raise your major, both constructively and obstructively. Rather than raising with all hands with 3-9 points, you might choose to subvert a response of two clubs to show a maximum simple raise, while the direct raise is 4-6 HCP.

Using this gadget gets you to game here. But how will you play four spades when West leads the heart king? You must keep East out of the lead, for fear of a diamond shift. So duck the heart king lead, in case West could later cross to his partner’s heart jack or 10.

You win the next heart in dummy, and now have to tackle trumps. Today, if you play the suit from the top, East will be able to ruff in on the third round of clubs and find the killing shift to a diamond. To prevent this, it feels right to lead a spade to the 10 immediately. If trumps were originally 2-2, you will be able to set up clubs after drawing trump, as you have a late trump entry to the board.

Here, though, West can win with the jack, but can only exit with a club, which you will win in hand to run your trumps. In the five-card ending, dummy has two diamonds and K-Q-8 of clubs. To keep clubs guarded, West must pitch all his hearts and the diamond queen, coming down to the bare diamond ace. You switch tack now, discarding dummy’s small club, then give up a diamond to West and claim the rest.

Even though your side appears to be outnumbered in terms of high cards, I would not be able to resist competing to two spades. My good spade spots mean I have relative safety at the two level, and the urge to push the opponents up a little has always been nearly irresistible to me. Plus, I would not be upset to see my partner bid three spades over three of a minor.


♠ A K 10 9 5 3
 9 3
 K J 5
♣ A 5
South West North East
1 ♠ 2 ♣ Pass 2

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