Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Saturday, August 5th, 2017

Histories makes men wise; poets, witty; the mathematics subtle; natural philosophy deep; moral grave; logic and rhetoric, able to contend.

Francis Bacon

S North
Both ♠ A 10 3
 K 8 2
 K 10 5 2
♣ K 7 5
West East
♠ J 8 7 6 5
 Q 9 6 3
♣ 10 9 8 6
♠ Q 9
 J 10 5 4
 J 9 6 4
♣ 4 3 2
♠ K 4 2
 A 7
 A Q 8 7 3
♣ A Q J
South West North East
2 NT Pass 6 NT All pass


It is logical for South to open two no-trump, showing 20-21, and for North to bid what he thinks his partner can make, by jumping to six no-trump. The 5-4 diamond fit never gets mentioned, but in fact no-trump plays just fine.

After the lead of the club 10 to the queen, declarer can almost count 12 winners, but he sees there may be one small catch. He can pick up a 4-0 diamond division on either side, provided he knows which defender has four diamonds. Is there a way to thwart a potentially malign fate here?

South can improve his chances by delaying the decision in diamonds as long as possible, specifically by ducking a spade at trick two. West plays low and declarer puts in dummy’s 10, letting East take the trick with his queen. After winning the club return, declarer cashes his black suit winners, and when East discards on the third spade he discovers that West started with five spades and three or four clubs.

This means that there is now a far smaller chance that West has four diamonds, than that East has the length in that suit. In all such situations, play the defender with the more vacant spaces (in his hand not his cranium) for length in a side suit.

Accordingly, declarer leads a diamond to the king. Then he can play the diamond 10, covered by the jack and queen. He can return to dummy with a high heart and take the second diamond finesse against East’s nine for his contract.

With a weak hand and no fit for diamonds, the question is whether to try to improve the contract or settle for a possibly inferior contract in order to stay low. If I could introduce a second suit economically, I might do so, but here passing two diamonds could be very ugly. I’ll risk rebidding two spades, and take the blame if I’m wrong.


♠ J 8 7 6 5
 Q 9 6 3
♣ 10 9 8 6
South West North East
  1 Dbl. Pass
1 ♠ 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