Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Wednesday, April 5th, 2017

Be content with your lot; one cannot be first in everything.


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


In today’s deal East and West have no reason to enter the auction, and when North makes a limit raise to three hearts, South should simply bid game and not tip the opponents off to their best lead.

However, when West leads the spade jack, the best play for four hearts is by no means obvious. Declarer is threatened with the loss of four black suit winners if the club honors are badly placed. To avoid the possible threats it looks right to try to set up the diamonds, but you have a choice of strategies.

Best is to draw trump and play the diamond ace then the queen, running it to West, and throwing away a spade loser. If East has the diamond king you avoid losing the second spade. If West has the diamond king, you will be able to throw two clubs away on the diamonds later on by crossing to dummy in trumps.

But there is one more step in the process – and having identified the main thrust of the deal, it would be a shame to fall at the preliminary hurdle. You must duck the first trick both in dummy and in hand, in an attempt to cut defensive communications. Then you win the next spade, before playing on the red suits. If you cover the first spade in dummy or win it in hand, you leave open a line of communication for the defense to cross back and forth in spades, and beat you if West has the diamond king and one or both club honors.

After this start to the auction you are too good to pass but it isn’t clear if your best game will be clubs or no-trump. With a minimum hand you would pass, and a call of three spades should suggest a half-stopper. With what appears to be a full stopper, you should bid three no-trump yourself rather than force partner to bite the bullet with jack-third or even three small spades.


♠ Q 5 2
 A 10 9 8
 A J 10 9
♣ 6 4
South West North East
    1 ♣ 1 ♠
Dbl. Pass 3 ♣ 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