Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Wednesday, January 16th, 2019

A mind quite vacant is a mind distressed.

William Cowper

S North
None ♠ Q J 6 2
 5 2
 A Q 10 8 7 4
♣ 6
West East
♠ 9
 Q 10 6 4 3
 5 2
♣ K 10 7 4 3
♠ 10 5 3
 J 9
 K J 9 6 3
♣ Q 8 2
♠ A K 8 7 4
 A K 8 7
♣ A J 9 5
South West North East
1 ♠ Pass 4 ♠ Pass
6 ♠ All pass    


After South opens one spade, North should want to drive his side to game. However, a jump to four spades sounds purely pre-emptive (a similar hand with less in diamonds, maybe). Depending on his methods, North might be able to show a side-suit singleton with less than game values, if using a jump to three no-trump as 9-12 with trump support and an as yet undisclosed shortage in a side suit. Or, he could use a call of three no-trump to show a constructive raise to four spades.

Either way, though, South should end up in six spades, and on a diamond lead, the timing of the crossruff may prove to be more than a little inconvenient.

My preferred line is to finesse the diamond queen and ruff away East’s king. Then the club ace and a club ruff followed by the diamond ace will allow South to re-enter hand with the heart ace for a second club ruff. A heart to hand for a third club ruff high lets declarer ruff a diamond high in hand, and a heart in dummy with North’s last top spade.

After 10 tricks (three diamonds, four clubs and three hearts), the lead is in dummy, which has three diamonds left, while declarer still has the A-8-7 of spades. Declarer leads a diamond and ruffs with the spade seven, not caring that West may be able to over-ruff. Even if he can, he will be forced to lead a card back into declarer’s spade tenace, and South will have his 12 tricks.

In second seat, your pre-emptive opening bids should be relatively disciplined. Even when at favorable vulnerability, I would not want to open two diamonds with such a potentially powerful major suit on the side. To change this to a hand that I might pre-empt with, move the spade queen into either side suit, or make the spade queen the three.


♠ Q J 6 2
 5 2
 A Q 10 8 7 4
♣ 6
South West North East

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


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