Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, August 28th, 2017

PERIPATETIC, adj. Walking about. Relating to the philosophy of Aristotle, who, while expounding it, moved from place to place in order to avoid his pupil’s objections. A needless precaution — they knew no more of the matter than he.

Ambrose Bierce

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


This hand comes from the 1968 Olympiad, and reveals that bidding has changed a lot since then. When East opened the bidding with one diamond South could overcall two diamonds. This was not a Michaels Cuebid, showing the majors; it simply showed a powerhouse. West sensibly jumped to five diamonds, putting South back in the hot seat. A double would only have produced a penalty of 300, and South wanted more, so he tried his luck at the five level with a call of five hearts.

At the table, when West led a diamond, South ruffed in hand and continued with the trump ace. When West showed out, declarer was booked for one down. Can you do better?

If you choose to take the very slight risk of there being a black-suit ruff, the safety play at trick two is to lead a heart intermediate from hand toward dummy’s 10. If the hearts divide 2-1, then the ace will bring down the remaining honor on the next round of trumps and declarer can finesse spades for the overtrick. If East proves to have all three trumps, then you can force an entry to dummy in spades by leading low towards the queen-jack to enable you to take a second-round trump finesse. In the highly unlikely event that West has all three missing trumps, you will still be able to access dummy via the heart 10, sooner or later, and will still succeed so long as the spade king is onside.

Declarer rates to have three hearts and a semi balanced hand – surely with both minors. So his shortage rates to be spades, and my best guess would be to lead that suit. When in doubt, leading declarer’s shortage at no-trump is not a bad idea.


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