Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, October 22nd, 2018

Now, O king, establish the decree and sign the writing that it be not changed, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which altereth not.

Daniel 6:8

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


When Jens Auken wrote about the “kill-point,” he was suggesting that it is dangerous ever to relax at the table. If you do, you might miss that the critical point of a deal has been reached.

When the following hand arose, players sitting West were weighed in the balance, and most were found wanting. It looked normal for East to pre-empt to two spades, over which South could take the two-way shot to jump to five clubs. Since East’s opening call had virtually denied two aces, West typically doubled rather than bidding five spades, then led the spade king. When the king held, West had to plan the defense at trick two. I invite you to do likewise before reading on!

Doesn’t it seem natural to shift to a top heart? If you do, declarer ruffs in hand and lays down the club ace, then ruffs a spade, ruffs a heart, and goes to dummy with the club 10. Now the heart ace, followed by a heart ruff, eliminates all the major suits from his hand and dummy. The diamond ace and a second diamond leaves West hopelessly endplayed, forced to concede a ruff-and-discard, on which declarer’s last diamond loser is discarded.

If West does not lead or shift to a heart, declarer cannot eliminate the major suits — the trump entries to dummy are insufficient. But at only one of the eight tables did a defender spot the trap. When Michel Perron of France saw Paul Chemla contribute the spade nine at the first trick, showing an even number, he carefully continued with a spade to defeat the contract.

Since this might be your only chance to lead through dummy, I suggest that a low heart is more likely to be successful than a club. Partner rates to have exactly four cards on this auction, and while the jack might work to take three tricks quickly, you could hardly blame your partner for trying to give you a ruff. In any event, you might get in with the club king again for a second heart play, if necessary.


♠ 10 8
 J 9 2
 J 8 6 5 4
♣ K 7 3
South West North East
  1 Dbl. 1 ♠
Pass 2 ♠ All 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 5th, 2018 at 3:55 pm

Hi Bobby,

I recall seeing a hand in a similar vein where West, who had overcalled spades, was on lead with AKQ10xx against a slam so naturally led one. This was ruffed (dummy having xxxx) and West got back in with a trump. He then led another (seemingly safe) spade which gave declarer the chance to isolate the spade menace and squeeze West in spades and a side suit. Without the 2nd spade lead, declarer wouldn’t have had the entries to ruff two spade back to hand.



judyNovember 5th, 2018 at 4:52 pm

Hi y’all,

Bobby and and I are at a local tournament for three days and am having trouble hooking up from the hotel. We are working on it, but if he doesn’t reply till we return home .. not to worry.



JudyNovember 5th, 2018 at 4:55 pm


Keep writing.


Bob LiptonNovember 5th, 2018 at 6:32 pm

Judy, you and Bobby have a great time!


Iain ClimieNovember 5th, 2018 at 7:48 pm

HI Bobby, Just,

Can I just echo Bob’s comment and a possible hand to illustrate the situation I described is

West AKQ10x A J10xx xx
South None KJ109xxx AQxx AK
North xxxx Qx Kxx xxxx


Bobby WolffNovember 7th, 2018 at 10:23 pm

Hi Iain,

Beautiful example, and perhaps the most complex problem in bridge, while on defense, the visualization of the declarer’s hand, always after both the auction and the opening lead (to do it before the opening lead is so very rare, but, in reality, sometimes barely possible).

Obviously it also includes the more than superficial knowledge of either squeezes, coups, or end plays, tools of the declarer, to which the defense can sometimes anticipate and then extinguish the enemies ability to pull it off.

No easy task, and that simple statement is a significant underbid.