Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, October 11th, 2018

What immortal hand or eye Could frame thy fearful symmetry?

William Blake

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


Against four spades, West led the club king to the ace. How would you plan the play? Declarer decided he needed the heart finesse to be working, so he played that suit at trick two. East hopped up with the ace, marking West with all the other critical high cards, and accurately shifted to a trump.

Since the spade queen surely had to be with West, South cashed the spade ace-king and the heart king before playing a spade to West’s queen (carefully pitching clubs from dummy on the spades).

Since a diamond would have been fatal as the cards lay, West exited passively with a top club. It might appear logical for South to ruff and run the trumps, but if he does, West will abandon clubs and come down to two diamonds and a heart winner. Now declarer can score no more than one of the last three tricks.

Instead, South discarded a diamond on the club queen. West could now do no better than exit with his last club. Declarer ruffed and ran the trumps, coming down to a two-card ending with the doubleton diamond queen in hand and the doubleton diamond ace and the heart 10 in dummy. West had still to discard from his master heart and doubleton diamond; whichever he let go, declarer would discard from the other suit in dummy, and take the last two tricks.

Had West played a top heart after winning the spade queen, South would have needed to discard a diamond to achieve the same ending — a curious symmetry.

Your double suggested values; your partner’s four no-trump call suggests two places to play. It makes sense to bid five clubs now; if your partner corrects that to five diamonds, you can bid five hearts, since the 5-4 fit rates to play better than diamonds.


♠ 5
 10 6 5 3 2
 A 6
♣ A 9 7 3 2
South West North East
  1 ♠ 2 4 ♠
Dbl. Pass 4 NT 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 2018. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact


A .V. Ramana RaoOctober 25th, 2018 at 11:56 am

Hi Dear Mr. Wolff
Oddly enough, declarer goes down had east refrained from playing hearts A. He can win and if he plays spades top down, west wins ,returns a heart for east to win who will push J of diamond. And if south plays a heart immediately on winning heart K, east wins and leads J of diamond. If dummy wins and returns a diamond, east wins and returns a spade and declarer is helpless.
Perhaps in this instance, the time-honored rule of second hand low must have been complied with .

A.V.Ramana RaoOctober 25th, 2018 at 12:05 pm

Ctually, on this particular layout, south would have gone down had east shifted to J of diamonds on winning hearts A . If south and west cover, dummy wins and returns a diamond but east can win and lead spade killing the diamond ruff and if in his reasoning of leading trump placed south with K of diamonds too, he should have realized that the contract cannot be stopped

Iain ClimieOctober 25th, 2018 at 3:42 pm


Agree East should probably return DJ but what if South ducks the DK. Now west can’t lead a trump!



A.V.Ramana RaoOctober 25th, 2018 at 3:56 pm

Hi lain
Good one which I missed. A twist in the tale .

A.V.Ramana RaoOctober 25th, 2018 at 4:30 pm

And it appears that my earlier post goes kaput as south can duck Diamond K in dummy preparing for a diamond ruff. Perhaps only way the contract can be take down is to make North declarer( please do not ask how) and east leading spade initially


Iain ClimieOctober 25th, 2018 at 4:40 pm


Maybe if South opens 4D (showing a good pre-empt in spades, but not much played now), and North dutifully bids 4S?

Well, you did ask!


bobbywolffOctober 25th, 2018 at 4:50 pm

Hi AVRR & Iain,

Thanks to both for your keen analysis.

AVRR was center stage, performing very well, with which appeared totally accurate, until Iain rode in, of course, on his white horse (not meant to be racist) with his coup de grace of ducking the jack-queen-king of diamonds in dummy.

Its been said that it “takes two to tango” but in bridge it often requires more, up to sometimes a virtual army of off-the-charts bridge aficionados to both properly explain and, most importantly, leave the listener both satisfied and impressed, not necessarily with that person, but instead, with the game we all love.

Finally, when dealing with our group, I feel proud to take my real life role, as only one of us.

bobbywolffOctober 25th, 2018 at 5:24 pm

Hi again AVRR & Iain,

Crossed in the mail teaching me to either write faster or be prepared to suck hind tit.

However, please refrain from discussing your together description of bridge columnists daily logistic problems, for fear of us having to come clean about all daily hands not always being 100% factual.

Sadly, and in truth, yes “not always” is a monumental underbid.

IonaOctober 30th, 2018 at 4:51 am

I every time used to read post in nesws papers but now as I am a user
off internet therefore from now I am using net
for articles or reviews, thanks to web.