Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, December 4th, 2017

‘The Lion King’ took it to quite an extreme because it was an action sequence: His father was killed in a wildebeest stampede. I related, because mine was, too.

Nathan Lane

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

*Game-forcing spade raise


My forays into rubber bridge are relatively rare these days. One of my strengths is that I can keep silent under provocation, but I am frequently tested when my partners seek to justify their more egregious plays. Today’s deal was a case in point.

As North, I produced a forcing spade raise and let my partner play game. West led the diamond jack to dummy’s king, and at trick two, declarer finessed in trumps, losing to West’s singleton king. It soon became clear that there was a second trump loser and, although the heart finesse was right, declarer ended one down.

We all waited expectantly for the apology and self-justification as the next hand was being dealt. It did not take long for my partner to tell me that of course he knew the safety play in the trump suit, but he was worried that he could not afford to take it if the heart finesse was wrong.

At this point my RHO mercifully cut off his rambling by opening the bidding on the next deal. But can you see the point that declarer missed? If South has no heart loser, he can afford the safety play in the trump suit by starting with the ace.

However, if there is a heart loser, he has to play the trump suit for no losers. The solution, therefore, is to take the heart finesse (which has to be done sooner or later) at trick two. Its success or failure would determine how to play the trumps.

Here it feels right to force declarer rather than trying for ruffs. So lead a diamond rather than a club. Change the hand slightly so that you have ace-third of trumps, and I might feel better about playing for club ruffs.


♠ A J 4 3
 K 7 4
 Q 5 3 2
♣ 7 6
South West North East
    Pass 1 ♠
Pass 2 Pass 2 ♠
Pass 4 ♠ 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