Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Wednesday, March 6th, 2019

Curiouser and curiouser.

Lewis Carroll

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


My ventures to the local club often yield curious results, but this deal from the Common Game six months ago produced a more unusual conclusion than usual.

Readers are asked to guess which card won trick 13 in four hearts. As you might expect from the introduction, best play was not necessarily involved. And yes, readers may guess which seat I was occupying, if they like.

West led the spade jack against four hearts, and East encouraged with the eight, letting South win the queen and lead a club to the king — correct defense by West to duck the club ace.

Now declarer made her first slight slip by leading the diamond 10 (maybe low to the jack was better, though that is debatable). This was covered by the queen and ace.

At this point, it seems right to play for diamond ruffs, but declarer made a serious error by cashing the heart ace and leading to the jack. When you want to ruff, don’t draw trumps. East won the queen to continue with the spade king, and declarer took the ace, drew the last trump, led a diamond to the jack, and exited in spades.

Now West won and played the 13th spade. South ruffed and led the diamond nine, allowing East to take his king and get out with a club. At trick 12, South ruffed and led her last card, the diamond four, and East triumphantly scored his five, more to his surprise than you might have expected.

With weak trumps and no guarantee your soft cards are working properly, a simple raise to two spades is better than a cue-bid raise. You wouldn’t need a dramatic improvement, however, to upgrade it to a cuebid. Making the heart jack the queen would be enough for me.


♠ 9 7 3
 K J 7
 10 3
♣ K Q 8 5 4
South West North East
Pass 1 1 ♠ Dbl.

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


ClarksburgMarch 20th, 2019 at 3:30 pm

See new unrelated question added to yesterday’s comments.

jim2March 20th, 2019 at 3:46 pm

I confess that I also would have led the 10D when the declarer did.

Furthermore, once the QD was captured, I (too) would have led trump, but to the KH. Next, I would have advanced the 3D.

bobbywolffMarch 20th, 2019 at 4:06 pm

Hi Jim2,

Definitely yes for a made contract. BTW since TOCM TM victims rarely, if ever, are gifted with that result, “made” means success, but alas only with us at AOB, not at the table. but cheer up since your advice, always honest, ever on target, brings joy to others, learning the game, perhaps leading to only vicarious enjoyment, but instead, much respect.

A.V.Ramana RaoMarch 20th, 2019 at 4:12 pm

Hi Dear Mr Wolff
After east covered diamond ten , south nèed not guess even trump Q. It will suffice if they break normally. Win diamond A and lead J of diamond. East wins and returns spade but south wins, pitches dummy’s spade on good diamond , ruffs spade, ruffs club to reach hand and leads last diamond overruffing west if west ruffs (south making overtrick ) and if west discards club A , dummy ruffs with J cash heart A and south ruffs club with six making the contract

bobbywolffMarch 20th, 2019 at 4:20 pm

Hi Clarksburg,

I hope and think tended to, although certainly not as clear as I would like it to be, especially in arriving in 4 hearts EW and somehow scoring it up.

Perhaps one last observation pertaining to yesterday, while holding any 5-5-3-0, better to bid the long suits and, if necessary leave the 3 card fragment a suit instituted by the partner of the 3 card fragment without first your encouragement.

Nothing above in stone, but just I think necessary to suggest, especially when the fragment is a major, when all experienced players are drawn to name it trump.

bobbywolffMarch 20th, 2019 at 4:47 pm


Since this was a real hand, not necessarily created as a teaching experiment, there are, as you deftly pointed out, different ways to be successful.

Our primary responsibility is often twofold:

1. Presenting a real hand and featuring the right way or ways to go about bidding and more likely playing or defending it.

2. Creating a teaching hand, often suggesting what to emphasize and if space permits, avoiding the pitfalls which others may become victim.

I do appreciate the effort you put into your
specific description of how to go about it, often choosing a slightly different card order, which, in fact, always seems to get the job also done.

It is not clear, and perhaps never will be, a universal way to best teach bridge. Since it can indeed get complicated with options, the best we can probably hope for is to keep it as simple as possible, but never forgetting the main issues eg, establishing suits and/or trumping losers in the short trump hand, which, in fact, and without which, will result poorly.

JC CLEMENTMarch 21st, 2019 at 9:22 am

About the bidding problem, I wonder if 2C is not better than 2S. If opponents bid to 3H, you will have suggest a good lead for partner. If opponents bid 2H, you can still bid 2S.

bobbywolffMarch 21st, 2019 at 2:39 pm

Hi JC,

And an early greeting to our bridge site, where all of us gather to discuss our worthwhile game, either bridging the gap or if not, sometimes giving pause to, believe it or not, wise ideas, but alas sometimes disadvantages to consider.

No doubt your suggestion can easily get us off to the right start while eventually defending, picture partner holding KJ1042 in spades but also holding the jack of clubs. However, sometimes those wily opponents get the bidding up higher before we, the partner of the overcaller get a second chance to show our spade support and find the following combination: partner holding s. KQ10xxx h. 2, d, A542 c. J10. Will we sell out to 3 or 4 hearts if partner does not immediately raise spades or not. If not and the opponents score up their heart game (depending on their distribution) when we have either a very good sacrifice in 4 spades or even on a very good day a lucky make when opponents do not defend perfectly then we would have wished we had made a simple raise.

However, I, for one agree with the opening lead help first and then spades later (even 3, if necessary) but if the opponents are already in 4 hearts and we hold KJx it might look a bit foolish to go minus when a plus was in the making.

Such are the difficult decisions often in the mix, and thanks for your input. No one player is likely always going to be right with such decisions, but your discussion brought up is certainly worth considering and for me, likely worth the chance of a future delayed raise.

Which leads us to your premise, doing exactly as you say, suggesting a better lead should we get out bid, while at the same time, getting ready to support our likely combined best suit, spades, but waiting tell our next bid and hoping it won’t occur too late when it becomes much more risky.