Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Saturday, May 13th, 2017

Art must take reality by surprise.

Francoise Sagan

E North
None ♠ 4 3
 8 5 3
 Q 9 8 7 3
♣ 8 7 2
West East
♠ Q 9 8 5
 9 2
 J 6
♣ J 10 9 5 3
♠ 6
 Q 7 6 4
 10 5 4 2
♣ A K Q 6
♠ A K J 10 7 2
 A K J 10
 A K
♣ 4
South West North East
2 ♣ Pass 2 Pass
2 ♠ Pass 3 ♣ * Pass
3 Pass 3 ♠ Pass
4 ♠ All pass    

*artificial second negative


Today’s deal looks too easy to be worthy of being a problem in this column. You play four spades after your partner has produced a second negative then suggested only tepid support for either major, persuading you that slam cannot be a favorite to make.

You receive the lead of the club jack, overtaken by East’s queen. When the club ace comes next, you ruff, and should pause before making your next play. The danger is that trumps are 4-1. If they are, then you will run out of trumps before you can establish your 10th trick from the hearts. The secret is to find the play that works when spades are no worse than 4-1 and hearts no worse than 4-2.

The solution is both charming and unusual. Declarer must attack both major suits in idiosyncratic fashion — by leading the jack or the 10 before any of the aces and kings. Suppose you lead the spade jack to trick three. West does best to win and force declarer with another club, ruffed in hand.

Now declarer plays the heart jack, to leave the defenders without recourse. The point is that the next round of clubs can be ruffed in dummy, and declarer can come to hand with a diamond to draw trump

If declarer plays either the spade or heart ace prematurely he fails. Either the defenders can set up a force (if you go after trumps) or take a heart ruff, if you let East in on the second or third round of hearts while West still has a trump left.

It was once considered normal to use two no-trump as a second negative, the original two diamond call having denied eight points. But because players now tend to temporize with a two diamond call over two clubs, no matter what they have, you need the two no-trump rebid to show at least a semi-positive, balanced. Hence you can subvert a three-club rebid to show the double negative here.


♠ 4 3
 8 5 3
 Q 9 8 7 3
♣ 8 7 2
South West North East
  Pass 2 ♣ Pass
2 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