Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Saturday, October 20th, 2018

No battle plan ever survives contact with the enemy.

Helmuth von Moltke

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


West ups the ante when East pre-empts to three hearts over North’s opening bid. Note that it is only the diamond ruff that beats four hearts.

Of course, North should refuse to sell out at his second turn. His double is takeout, though South can pass with trump tricks or length. Today his four-spade call gets him to a sensible spot — that is, until the trump break comes to light.

South ruffs the second-round heart in dummy and comes to hand with a diamond to try the trump finesse. The finesse succeeds, but when he discovers West has all five of the missing trumps, South must take desperate measures to keep control of the hand.

When he switches his attention to clubs, West ruffs the second round. Now a spade would let declarer draw two more rounds of trumps, then run the clubs, and West would simply score his long trump.

Therefore West accurately returns a heart, hoping to shorten South’s trumps and regain control of the hand. South ruffs in hand, discarding a club from dummy. He now cashes the high diamond, ruffs dummy’s third diamond in hand and leads another club in a four-card ending where dummy has two cards in each black suit, while declarer retains one trump and three clubs.

West must ruff, and now if he leads a trump, South will finesse and claim the rest. So West plays a diamond, letting South ruff in hand and pitch dummy’s last club. He now has a trump coup to score dummy’s two trumps.

Normally, a 5-4 hand should seriously consider reverting to the major, but here, the fact that you are short in partner’s suit and your major is weak argues for passing. For the record, if your majors were switched, you might rebid your suit, more confident that your partner will not have a singleton in that suit.


♠ K 9 8 6 3
 K 9 5
 Q 10 9 2
♣ 4
South West North East
    1 ♣ Pass
1 ♠ Pass 1 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


Iain ClimieNovember 3rd, 2018 at 5:19 pm

Hi Bobby,

I suppose West did well not to double but what if he starts with (say) the S8 won by South who leads a heart. Can he win this and effectively play another trump (or maybe punch dummy)? I suspect the line transposes to the play in the column, though.



Bobby WolffNovember 3rd, 2018 at 6:01 pm

Hi Iain,

Yes, your defense at the very least, starts out the most favorable for the defense, trying to save the use of his 3rd heart in this race between declarer and West to keep that 3rd heart as against declarer forcing West to trump clubs before he makes effective and devastating use of that said 3rd heart.

I think declarer wins the race, but to quote Jim2, my head hurts too much to spend the time necessary to play card for card and discover for myself.

Thanks for your keen analysis but with such a blessing, comes the pain of the hurting.

Bob LiptonNovember 3rd, 2018 at 8:33 pm

It’s not just upping the ante. 4 Hearts makes, barring the Dk opening lead or a shift to a low diamond by north after a low club lead.


jim2November 4th, 2018 at 3:05 am


Bobby WolffNovember 4th, 2018 at 2:38 pm

Hi Bob & Jim2,

Two worthwhile lessons to be learned, which at least IMO demand a heads up and conviction.

1. When holding length in partner’s first bid suit (even clubs) and when faced with a choice (close decision), opt to play the hand rather than defend.

2. When and if one winds up on defense and especially if partner has most of the possible defensive tricks, be aggressive if on opening lead, pointing to the king of diamonds on this one.

However for Jim2, with his TOCM TM, no doubt on this hand, East, not North, would have possessed the ace of diamonds and away would have gone the setting trick. No wins, no hits, 1 error, and minus is left on the We scorecard.

pandaairsoft.comNovember 7th, 2018 at 8:30 pm

Hi to every one, since I am genuinely eager of reading this web site’s post to be
updated regularly. It carries nice data.