Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, October 6th, 2017

Wit’s an unruly engine, wildly striking
Sometimes a friend, sometimes the engineer.

George Herbert

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


Place your bets, gentle reader: will declarer prevail or can the defense defeat South’s four heart contract, North having opened the bidding then rebid two no-trump to show a balanced 18-19?

When West led the spade jack, North’s queen lost to the king, and East returned the diamond 10. Declarer won dummy’s queen and advanced the heart nine. East played low, West won with the ace and returned a diamond to the ace. Dummy’s last trump was led, on which East played the king, but that was the last trick for the defense.

East had missed his chance to defeat the game. He must play West to hold the trump ace, (or declarer must have four heart tricks and six plain winners). So East should steel himself to go up with the king on the first heart, then return his last diamond. Now when West wins the trump ace, he can return a diamond for East to ruff with his heart jack.

So is your money on the defenders? Not so fast: technically, declarer missed his opportunity at the opening lead. If he puts up the spade ace, then immediately plays a trump, he will make his contract.

However, on the lead of the spade jack, declarer has to compare the chances of the spade king being offside, as opposed to the chance that he can play hearts for two losers. This is a close calculation: declarer can see the chances that the defenders might have a ruff coming, but it is hard to reject a legitimate finesse, isn’t it?

An expert panel might vote for heart bids at every level up to four; but I would settle for an invitational jump to two. There is no reason to drive to game facing a balanced opener with three hearts, which I might easily buy. Of course just because both opponents have bid doesn’t mean we won’t make game. But partner knows better than I what he has, and he can accept an invitation if he wants to.


♠ 6 4
 Q 10 7 6 4 3
 A 6 2
♣ 8 5
South West North East
  1 ♣ Dbl. 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