Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Wednesday, August 9th, 2017

The demand was for constant action; if you stopped to think, you were lost.

Raymond Chandler

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


Whatever action East takes here, South should compete as far as three hearts. The defense leads three rounds of diamonds, trying to kill declarer’s discard. The third diamond will get ruffed and over-ruffed, and now South needs to try to hold the black suit losers to two. Since East is likely to have the club ace, it seems right to lead a low club from dummy to the queen. Then he draws trumps, leading high hearts from hand, before advancing his second club. Declarer covers West’s card with his nine, and East takes his 10 and gets out with a top spade. Win or duck? Pause for reflection before committing yourself.

You have two chances for the contract, but simplest is to try to ruff out the club ace, which works if East has only three clubs.

What if he does not? Then East would have begun with six diamonds, and four clubs. Given that he is also known to hold two hearts, East can’t have more than one spade in that scenario, can he? Therefore you should let the spade king hold the trick. What can East do? If he gives you a ruff-sluff, it lets you pitch one of your spade losers. Meanwhile, if he plays a club, be it high or low, it will let you use the club king as a discard for your spade loser.

Had you won the spade ace, then whether you led a high or low club from dummy, or a spade, you would not be able to avoid two further spade losers.

The general rule about how high to raise partner in competition is that you can afford to be preempted by one level but not two. Since you planned to raise to two hearts, you can afford to bid three hearts now. Passing (planning to raise hearts the next time – if there is one) would understate your heart support.


♠ A 9 3
 K Q 4 3
 J 5
♣ K 9 4 2
South West North East
1 ♣ Pass 1 2 ♠

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