Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, November 22nd, 2018

The things we know best are those we have not learned.

Marquis de Vauvenargues

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


West’s pre-emptive club raise forces North to commit to game or part-score. When he takes the high road, South buys a dummy where he is apparently doomed to lose a club, two diamonds and a spade in four hearts. However, to make up for the wasted values in clubs and duplication of shape, South can find good luck elsewhere — as long as he plays for it.

When East wins his club ace and shifts to a low diamond, South must put up the king. East has opened the bidding, suggesting he has the diamond ace, and ducking would expose him to a ruff as well as the loss of three tricks in the minors.

South’s king wins as West follows with the queen. South next draws trumps and gives up a diamond, and East must let West win with his jack, or the diamond nine will become established to provide a discard for declarer.

After winning the diamond jack, what can West do? If he shifts to a low spade, that forces East to play the jack. Declarer wins and (if he guesses correctly that spades are breaking rather than diamonds) drives out the master spade, with the defenders’ communications cut. So declarer can cash the long spade to pitch his diamond.

If West instead shifts to the spade 10 or queen, declarer ducks and can now build his spade winner in peace and quiet.

Notice that if the spades in the East and West hands are switched, when West shifts to a low spade at trick six, East must put in the 10!

Despite holding a minimum opening bid, you must reopen with a double here. This shows short hearts and lets partner describe his hand accurately. I expect partner has a penalty double of one heart — don’t you? Yes, the opponents might have missed a game, but that isn’t terribly likely.


♠ J 7 3
 A 10 6 2
♣ A Q J 8 5
South West North East
1 ♣ 1 Pass 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