Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, March 8th, 2019

Every public action which is not customary, either is wrong, or if it right, is a dangerous precedent. It follows that nothing should ever be done for the first time.

F.M. Cornford

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


In today’s deal, East-West did well not to sacrifice in five diamonds, which should certainly go at least two down, and might fare even worse from the East seat on an unlikely heart lead. East’s double of two spades showed cards but no obvious call, and West decided to take his chances on defense — a wise choice, with four spades a delicate contract.

When West quite naturally tried to cash two rounds of diamonds, South seized his opportunity by ruffing, then making the critical play of finessing hearts and eliminating that suit. Then he exited in trumps, and East was endplayed with his bare ace. He was forced to concede a ruff-sluff — in which declarer would pitch a club from hand and ruff in dummy — or lead a club himself, his actual choice.

That would have been good enough to set the game if the three and 10 of clubs were switched, but as it was, when West won his club king he had, East had no choice but to return a club, and declarer could claim the rest.

If a trump is led or a trump shift comes after the lead of the diamond king gets a count signal from East, the endplay no longer works. Declarer’s best play is to eliminate the red suits, then lead the club jack from dummy. This will work if either defender holds both the club king and queen or if West has a doubleton club king or queen. And of course, we have all seen sleepy defenders fail to cover an honor with an honor when they should …

Another thorny problem! Does a takeout double of two spades focus on the minors (because you’d bid hearts if you had them)? I think so, but I’d expect my partner to bid three clubs if he has both minors, at which point my correction to three diamonds must show hearts and diamonds — since I would have bid three diamonds the round before with just that suit.


♠ A
 10 9 5 4
 J 9 7 5 2
♣ Q 8 4
South West North East
Pass 1 ♠ Dbl. 2 ♠

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


Patrick CheuMarch 22nd, 2019 at 2:55 pm

Hi Bobby,The problem is knowing when to drop KQ doubleton clubs,which I quite often get if East has not bid double..would you just play for West to have KQ doubleton clubs after JC lost on the first round to West?Regards~Patrick.

bobbywolffMarch 22nd, 2019 at 4:13 pm

Hi Patrick,

Sadly, if the defense has been sensational enough to keep from getting endplayed, it bodes almost impossible for the clubs to not be 3-3, therefore relating to what the end of the column above suggests.

Reason being that if West had the 1-4-6-2 distribution, for the KQ to be doubleton West, on the bidding up through 4 spades would be 5 diamonds from West, since his partner has almost demanded that call with his TO double along the way.

IOW, while not conceding before the play was over, then just put up the 10 the second round playing for a first round cover by East, but then a duck with the other honor the second time clubs are led from dummy.

Often the cards and, in this case distribution, becomes known to be what and where they are by declarer from inaction, as well as action, and to repeat while holding 1-4-6-2 he, unless a beginner, (and why would beginners play nor understand responsive doubles)?

However, thanks for your question, since otherwise we wouldn’t be able to discuss this phase of placing distributions.