Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Saturday, August 18th, 2018

Virtue is the fount whence honor springs.

Christopher Marlowe

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

*15-17 balanced


The Principle of Fast Arrival in game-forcing auctions proposes that instead of exploring carefully, you jump to game (wasting at least a full round of bidding) to make your partner guess what to do when he has extras. This is not my favorite convention.

By contrast, here North’s jump to three no-trump shows about 15-17 with two or three spades. With less, or more, North would bid two no-trump. When South produces a quantitative four no-trump, North reveals his spade support, and West leads the heart two against six spades, to the queen and king. Back comes a trump to the eight; can you identify declarer’s best line now?

Instead of relying on the red suits to behave, South cashes the club ace, ruffs a club high in hand, gets to dummy with a trump and discovers they split. (If they didn’t, declarer would instead finesse hearts, then test diamonds, hoping, if they didn’t break, that the same hand was long in both spades and diamonds.)

When spades divide, South ruffs another club high, takes the diamond ace, then re-enters dummy with a diamond to ruff dummy’s last club. He goes back to dummy with the heart ace and draws trumps, discarding his losing heart.

In the two-card ending, dummy has the heart 10 and a diamond, while declarer has the diamond Q-9 in hand. Even if diamonds cannot be brought in, declarer has the additional chance (as here) that the hand with long diamonds also has the heart jack and is thus squeezed in the red suits.

Your concentrated honors mean that you have just enough to risk a call of two diamonds. This makes it harder for your opponents to get to clubs. If you have a seven-card fit in either spades or diamonds, it should play well enough.


♠ A K Q 10 5
 9 7 4
 A Q 9 4
♣ 4
South West North East
1 ♠ Pass Pass 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 2018. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact


Iain ClimieSeptember 1st, 2018 at 12:25 pm

HI Bobby,

While it is true that East is squeezed in the red suits, West did lead a possibly guileful heart 2 so, if East dumps the H8 without any squirming, South still has the chance to finesse the heart when he will then go two off. Ouch!



A .V .Ramana RaoSeptember 1st, 2018 at 2:04 pm

Hi Dear Mr. Wolff
While it is tempting to take second finesse in hearts and hope for a miracle in diamonds, the dummy reversal along with squeeze as per the column line is very instructive

bobbywolffSeptember 1st, 2018 at 3:05 pm

Hi Iain & AVRR,

Yes & no doubt you have both hit the nerve of this bridge puzzle. Perhaps the best symbolic quote should be amended to read “When you lead a horse to water, whether he drinks or not is up to him and him alone”. IOW, the showing of the path to drinking water is yours, but it will be his decision whether to capitalize on it. one way or the other.

Furthermore, therein lies the result of the learning. If he decides wrongly (in this case) and takes the second heart finesse, as AVRR implies, he, at least, knew enough to find another successful line, but opted out. At the same time Iain incorrectly (in this case but still a possible critical factor) refers back to the opening leader’s choice of the deuce of hearts (while holding the jack), instead of a higher one which some leaders would choose, in order to make it easier for his partner in the defense.

Whichever choice is made, the winner or the loser, should at least in the long run, produce better results, since IMO, psychology and its key, table judgment, is (by far) the chief difference in the long run in rating our very best worldwide players, since all are highly expert in the methods which is often merely summed up as technique.

And since the above is all about technique, then, and of course, the ending, which in fact during the contest, is all that materially matters, remains only in the hands of declarer.

Writing one’s own ending will always, on these types of hands, remain in the minds and hearts of the designated declarer.

Quixotically, perhaps in competition, our game perhaps is faced with these choices more than other contests, but I, for one, think that those
forms of mental stimulation, though often torturous, add more than they subtract. The reasons lie strictly within the detective work necessary to be right more often than others.

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