Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Saturday, May 27th, 2017

Whoever can surprise well must conquer.

John Paul Jones

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


Today’s deal was played by John Schermer in the top bracket of a regional knock-out. You may care to consider it first as a single-dummy problem. Against five clubs West leads the diamond jack, covered, and back comes a diamond. All follow; plan the play.

Schermer deduced that West was likely to have two clubs, since his choice of a doubleton jack lead suggested he did not have shortage in any of the side-suits. Also, if trumps were two-two, there would be more endplay chances.

So he took the club king and led towards the ace, collecting West’s doubleton queen. Now Schermer asked himself why West had led diamonds not spades, given that he presumably had the heart ace (since he had not led the suit).

One plausible explanation was that he also had a significant spade doubleton.

With the idea that East had started life with the spade king and 5-3-3-2 shape, Schermer now made a play I’ve never seen before, after cashing the third diamond. He led the spade queen from dummy, covered by the king, and ace, putting West in the hot seat. When that player did not unblock his jack, he was endplayed with a spade. West had to lead hearts, and that set up the discard declarer needed for his losing spade.

Had West unblocked the spade jack under the ace, Schermer would have crossed to the board with a diamond to lead a spade up to his nine, and again held his spade losers to one.

I don’t want my readers to think I’m going soft, but facing a passed partner I think it is entirely reasonable to double rather than overcall one no-trump. With a marginal hand for the no-trump overcall, you can sensibly choose the safer action. Your extra values mean that if partner competes, he will not find dummy unexpectedly disappointing.


♠ Q 7 3
 K 10 3
 K Q 8 3
♣ A J 8
South West North East
  Pass Pass 1 ♣

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