Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, December 12th, 2017

I feel like I’ve cheated. I never knew what to do. I was never a good enough painter to earn a living, and so I drifted into the theater, and I’ve had a successful life. I feel guilty that I’ve never done a day’s work in my life!

Barry Humphries

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


Today’s deal comes from an international match between the women of Australia and Chinese Taipei. Both tables played six spades here.

The Chinese Taipei declarer received a heart lead and decided to protect against 3-0 trumps in either hand. She won the heart lead in dummy and led a low trump from the board, covering the jack with the ace and playing a second trump. When the defense exited passively in diamonds, South eventually fell back on the club finesse and doubtless considered herself a trifle unlucky when it lost.

That was not a bad line, but in the other room Cathy Mill correctly decided that her endplay chances were better if she played trumps from the top, and that the combination of 3-0 trumps on her right with the club finesse onside was too small to worry about.

Mill won the heart ace, cashed the spade ace and diamond ace, then crossed to table with a heart and threw two clubs on the diamond king-queen. Next she ruffed a heart to eliminate both red suits, and only then did she play a second spade to endplay West.

That player could either lead a club into the tenace or concede the ruff-sluff and let declarer pitch her last club from hand as she ruffed in dummy.

For the statistically minded, the chance that East has all the spades and the club king comes in at about 1 in 20, while the chance that West has the doubleton spade king and the club king is approximately 1 in 5.

This hand does not have a right answer. You could pass, but that seems too likely to let the opponents reach slam. You could leap to six hearts at once, which does have a lot to recommend it if not vulnerable. However, if vulnerable, you could try a more restrained approach and bid four hearts, which might allow the opponents to stop in game if they are feeling cautious.


♠ J
 J 8 6 3
 10 9 8 7 6 3
♣ 10 2
South West North East
    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