Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Wednesday, December 6th, 2017

When it is obvious that the goals cannot be reached, don’t adjust the goals; adjust the action steps.


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


It is far from clear which game is best here. At first glance, you might want to play five clubs; on a diamond lead, you can play to ruff a diamond in dummy, draw some trumps and maneuver for diamond discards. On a trump lead, you might duck the first round of the suit and play along similar lines.

But it is also perfectly reasonable to end up in four spades on the sequence shown.

North’s preference for spades does not guarantee more than two trumps here. When the defenders lead and continue diamonds, pause for a second to consider how you might play the hand. Your problem is re-entries to your hand. At matchpoints, you might put all your eggs in one basket by unblocking hearts, then taking the trump ace and finessing the spade jack. That works if spades break or the trump finesse succeeds — about a 2/3 chance.

But playing teams or rubber, you can do better than that. After ruffing the second trick, the simplest line is one that gives up two trump tricks and a diamond. You unblock hearts and take the ace and king of spades, and have not surrendered the tempo by finessing unsuccessfully in the trump suit. You simply run your winning hearts and let the defenders take their two trumps separately. Meanwhile, you have 10 tricks in peace and comfort.

This line is only in jeopardy against 5-1 trump breaks; and if trumps were 5-1 offside, you were probably going down regardless.

When you bid two clubs, the Michaels Cue-bid to show both majors, you were expecting to play a major, of course. After the double, though, your partner’s two-diamond call suggests that diamond might be the best strain, and who are you to argue? You have no extra shape and no reason to mistrust your partner — yet. So pass two diamonds.


♠ K J 8 5 4
 A K J 10 4
♣ 3 2
South West North East
      1 ♣
2 ♣ Dbl. 2 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