Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, May 15th, 2017

‘It’s a poor sort of memory that works only backwards’ the Queen remarked.

Lewis Carroll

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

*strong **weak


In the first set of the semi-finals of the US women’s trials of 1997, the squad captained by Sue Picus eliminated most of their carry-forward deficit, thanks to a neat defense by Lisa Berkowitz and Marinesa Letitzia.

Juanita Chamber’s decision to pass four hearts was not an obvious one, but Kathie Wei-Sender found herself in a perfectly playable spot. Letizia led the diamond ace, on which her partner’s diamond four suggested a club shift. The club 10 was taken by dummy’s ace, as Berkowitz followed with the seven, presumably denying the eight.

Now declarer ran the heart jack, ducked to East’s queen. If Letitzia had returned the club nine, the eight in declarer’s hand would have become established. Equally, a diamond would furnish a ruff and discard, which did not seem to accomplish anything for the defense.

However, Letitzia switched to a spade, forcing declarer to commit herself at once. Wei-Sender finessed successfully and tried a second heart, but Berkowitz took her heart ace, and returned a second spade. Declarer was now isolated from her spade suit, and the best she could do was to try to drop the club queen. When that failed, she was down one.

Since in the other room Mildred Breed was declarer in an unbeatable four spades, which could not be defeated, that was a big swing to the Picus team. They ended up comfortable winners of the match, and went on to win the trials, then captured the Venice Cup in Tunisia.

Leading a high diamond from a holding of this sort will be most effective when declarer has the diamond ace facing the doubleton jack. But even then it may not suffice to defeat the contract, since you have no sure entry on the side. By contrast, leading a low diamond looks much better when partner has either the doubleton diamond jack or ace, and it may also give declarer a guess at trick one.


♠ 9 6 4
 K J 7
 K Q 7 5 4
♣ J 2
South West North East
    Pass 1 NT
Pass 3 NT All 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