Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Saturday, February 16th, 2019

The world is content with setting right the surface of things.

Cardinal Newman

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


When North, playing the forcing no-trump, produces a constructive raise of hearts, South makes a help-suit game try of three clubs, asking North to decide whether what he has is right for game. North’s two builders in clubs make up for his bad trump holding, so he takes a shot at the heart game.

When West leads the spade queen, declarer must duck, or else East would win and continue the suit, leaving declarer with four losers when trumps did not behave. It is often incorrect to cover when declarer wants to keep East off lead, but here ducking the lead prevents either defender from continuing spades without surrendering a trick.

West has a difficult play now, but accurately shifts to the diamond seven. Declarer wins the ace in hand, then takes the heart ace; the sight of the king persuades him to try for an endplay if trumps do not break, by cashing the diamond queen and leading a second trump.

If trumps break, declarer is home; when they do not, East wins his two hearts, but now South’s small extra chance kicks in, since East has no third diamond left to lead and must open up one black suit or the other. Either way, declarer’s two clubs will disappear on dummy’s winners.

If declarer leads a third diamond instead of the second heart, East discards on this trick and the fourth diamond. Declarer can do no better than play a trump. East cashes his hearts and exits with his spade ace, leaving South with an eventual club loser.

Many partnerships play calls of both two clubs and two diamonds as artificial here. But even if a bid of two clubs were natural, I suspect I’d pass rather than bidding two spades or risking ending up in a 3-3 club fit. With the spade 10 or even the nine instead of the two, you could tempt me to rebid two spades, but not here.


♠ Q J 6 5 2
 9 7 6 3
♣ J 8 2
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 2019. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact


David WarheitMarch 3rd, 2019 at 12:20 am

At trick 3, I think S should lead a small H rather than cash the A. There seems to be virtually no risk of a D ruff, & S will thus quickly find out how trumps are breaking. All this doesn’t really do much except make the winning line of play somewhat more obvious.

bobbywolffMarch 3rd, 2019 at 1:37 am

Hi David,

Sounds just as good, but how about if West wins his singleton honor in hearts and leads a club, to either his partner’s KJ or a miss guess from declarer. Although as Jim2 would quickly advise, that his head is hurting, I’ll merely ask if I missed something crucial, such as the lay of the club suit which can be any which way and or, it seems an advantage to declarer that East be the one with only 2 diamonds and, of course, both the three hearts (instead of West) and the king of clubs.

Perversely, suppose East held the KQx or KJx of hearts and after your low heart play, overtook partners singleton heart and led one back, which he might do if he originally held three hearts two diamonds and the king of clubs. However, it would then be percentage for declarer to go up ace and lead a heart right back, but then if West had the king of clubs East would have the last laugh.

Aren’t we devils?

bobbywolffMarch 3rd, 2019 at 11:29 am

Hi again David,

Yes, before someone asks, East’s play (if he held the three hearts and of course West’s singleton heart wasn’t, as here, the king, would in fact be a Grosvenor (non-sensicle) so only a fool would not go up with the ace (expecting hearts to be 2-2) but that only adds to the allure and may play with declarer’s mind, especially if he was on his way to take either yours or the column’s winning line.

bobbywolffMarch 3rd, 2019 at 11:38 am

To everyone,

Today Judy and I will go to a downtown hotel to play in a 5 day Sectional starting tomorrow. I’ll however have Judy’s computer to hopefully be available so, although the timing may be affected, I’ll still be able, assuming no unforeseen glitches occur, to respond to whatever winds up as either interesting or
just a question to which I can think well enough to find an answer.