Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, August 11th, 2017

Henceforth I ask not for good fortune, I myself am good fortune.

Walt Whitman

E North
E-W ♠ 8
 Q J 9 5 4
 A 9 5 3
♣ 8 6 2
West East
♠ Q 5 3 2
 A 6
 J 8
♣ A J 7 5 4
♠ K J 10 7 4
 Q 7 6 4
♣ Q 9 3
♠ A 9 6
 K 10 8 3 2
 K 10 2
♣ K 10
South West North East
1 Pass 4 All pass


Should West double one heart, facing a passed partner? At a different vulnerability, he might feel braver, and get his side to four spades. Today, when West passes, you get to play four hearts on a spade lead, and are threatened with four losers if the club ace is wrong.

To set up an endplay, ruff a spade trick two and lead a trump hoping for a friendly shift. West does well to win his heart ace and passively return a trump. You win in hand, ruff the last spade, cash the diamond ace, and lead to the diamond 10. West gets his queen, but must now lead a club or concede a ruff and discard.

In addition to the endplay chances that hold on the actual deal, this line produces a discard for your club loser if West has three cards and either the diamond honors are split, or West has both honors. It also works if either player has a doubleton or singleton honor, as well as if either hand began with QJ doubleton. And if not, South can always fall back on the club finesse.

Note that if you do not ruff a spade at trick two, you cannot strip off the spades. For example if you play trumps immediately, West eventually has a safe spade exit or you run out of trumps. Equally, if East gains the lead in diamonds, he will play a club through you, to set the contract.

Finally, if you play on clubs before diamonds, the defense cash their clubs and exit with a third club, leaving you with a diamond loser.

If you doubled one spade it would show a penalty double of one heart, but a far more suitable hand for defense. Imagine the same hand with queen-third of spades and a doubleton diamond ace. Your choice appears to be between a pessimistic pass, a raise to two clubs, or an imaginative bid of one no-trump without a stopper. Even a bid of two hearts is possible I suppose. I’ll settle for two clubs.


♠ 8
 Q J 9 5 4
 A 9 5 3
♣ 8 6 2
South West North East
  Pass 1 ♣ 1
Pass 1 ♠ Pass 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