Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Wednesday, September 19th, 2018

Only take this rule along,
Always to advise her wrong;
And reprove her when she’s right;
She may then grow wise for spite.

Jonathan Swift

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


Mistakes come in all shapes and sizes; I’m sure I still have many new ones to find. In today’s deal, your task is to spot what error declarer made to floor his game.

After two passes, when East opened with four spades, South felt obliged to bid. I’d vote for a double (meaning it as cards, rather than penalty) or a call of four no-trump, but he chose to bid five diamonds, and West was delighted to double.

South won the spade lead and drew all the opponents’ trumps, ending in dummy, then ruffed a spade high before leading a heart to the 10. Now he ran the club nine to West, who took his jack and exited with the ace and another heart. Declarer could no longer avoid a further club loser — down one.

West’s double surely suggests that the missing high cards in hearts and clubs will be with West. So declarer should draw just two rounds of trumps, ending in hand, then lead a heart.

At this point, West might as well rise with the ace and exit in either red suit, but declarer can arrange to finish both red suits, ending in dummy. At that point, he can lead the club nine around to West. What can West do now? He must either return a club into South’s tenace or play a heart and concede a ruff-and-discard. In that case, declarer discards a club from dummy and ruffs in hand. He next cashes the club ace and leads the queen for a ruffing finesse against West’s king, while he still has a trump entry to hand.

In auctions of this sort, one normally raises partner’s major either directly or at the next turn. Typically, you raise directly unless the hand is too defensive in nature, or unless you have a doubleton honor in trump, when you might not want to get partner too excited about competing further. I’d raise directly here, but if my lefthand opponent had opened one diamond, I might pass first and raise later.


♠ 10 8 7
 K J 10
 K 7 6 3
♣ 9 8 5
South West North East
  1 ♣ 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.
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