Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, November 7th, 2017

If your regime is not strong enough to handle a joke, then you don’t have a regime.

Jon Stewart

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


In “Keys to Winning Bridge,” Frank Stewart debunks several of the game’s longstanding myths. One of the principles of defense in Whist, as espoused in the eighteenth century, was: When in doubt, win the trick. But as Stewart comments, though Edmond Hoyle’s axiom may have seemed valid 250 years ago, we have moved on from there.

Let’s take a look at three no-trump here. West leads the spade two, and dummy’s jack wins. Declarer continues with dummy’s diamond to East’s eight and his own king. If West takes his ace and leads, say, the spade queen, declarer wins and ducks a diamond. He takes the next trick and runs the diamonds, winning three diamonds, three spades, two clubs and a heart.

West should refuse to take the diamond ace, ducking as smoothly as he can. Declarer may lead another diamond and play low from dummy, hoping East held the doubleton ace-eight, but even if he reads the position correctly, he will never get more than two diamond tricks in any case, thanks to the absence of entries to dummy.

Let’s contrast the position if the king and jack of clubs were switched, so that West could be reasonably confident that dummy had an entry on the side. Now if you duck the diamond, you turn two sure tricks into one, so in matchpoints it may be right to win the trick. It would be even more difficult to plan the defense if dummy’s club jack were the queen. Now you can’t be sure whether dummy has an entry or not; but fortunately that isn’t our problem today.

There are times when you redouble with 10+ points but on most of those occasions you are either short in, or do not have too many values in, your partner’s suit. Here it seems unlikely you can extract a real penalty from all three side suits, so I would simply bid one spade and allow the auction to develop as if the opponents had not acted.


♠ Q 10 8 2
 K 10 2
 A J 9
♣ 8 7 4
South West North East
  Pass 1 Dbl.

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