Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Wednesday, January 9th, 2019

The meaning doesn’t matter if it’s only idle chatter of a transcendental kind.

W.S. Gilbert

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



The common theme that runs through the deals this week is how to tackle a trump suit where you are missing the king but not the queen or jack. The simplistic answer would be to say, “Finesse against it!” But sometimes you must look beyond the major honors to find the winning line, as in today’s example.

Your contract of four spades looks sound enough; but when West leads the heart nine and East wins his king to return the suit, your chances appear to have come down to the trump finesse. Is that the full story, or is there more to it?

While you clearly need the trump finesse, you should carefully consider whether you also need the trump break, and if so, whether you can protect against any or all 4-1 breaks. Your lack of trump intermediates produces a stark conclusion: If East has four trumps to the king, you are doomed no matter what they are. Therefore, you should ignore that possibility and instead focus on the one 4-1 break that you can actually cope with. Lead a low trump toward the A-10, planning to cross back to the diamond king and to repeat the trump finesse if the first finesse holds.

That may seem straightforward enough, but consider that if the seven and six of spades were switched, now you might be able to handle West having either the bare eight or nine in that suit — assuming you’ve husbanded your resources carefully. We will be discussing that very theme later this week.

This hand is definitely not worth a drive to game, although if you had a singleton spade and king-third of diamonds, you might feel slightly different. That said, this is not worth a response of two clubs; you should instead bid one heart to make sure you find your heart fit as quickly as possible. If your partner bids spades, you will jump to two no-trump to invite game.


♠ K
 K 4 3 2
 10 9 7
♣ A J 7 5 3
South West North East
    1 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 2019. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact


Bill CubleyJanuary 23rd, 2019 at 10:51 pm


For those whom the Gods would drive mad, the diamonds will also break 1-4 😉

Bob LiptonJanuary 23rd, 2019 at 11:43 pm

Nonsense, Bill. They always break 3-2 when the opposites are playing their 8-card fit.


Bobby WolffJanuary 23rd, 2019 at 11:51 pm

Hi Bill,

Yes, them bridge gods can be mean, but however, that fourth diamond transferred to East is then exchanged with the king of hearts to West.

Therein everything is up to date for making game, provided declarer, not the bridge god, takes pain by leading a small spade from dummy.

Bobby WolffJanuary 24th, 2019 at 12:11 am

Hi Bob,

First important rule of winning is to let the opponents sing the loser’s lament, not us.

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