Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Saturday, March 30th, 2019

And one born in a manger
Commands the beauteous files.

Henry Vaughan

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


There are advantages to being a pack rat (though it is possible my wife would not agree). Going back through my copious records, I discovered a deal from a national tournament of the 1970s.

The deal arose in the Spingold Trophy, where both tables declared four hearts. After the lead of the club jack to the king, East cashed the club ace and erred by playing a third club. That gave declarer a chance by allowing him to try to shorten his trumps and cope with a bad break. A diamond shift would have left declarer no chance as the cards lay.

Robert Lebi, then of Montreal, earned a 12-IMP swing for his team by ruffing and playing a heart to the ace. Believing East’s king was a true card (who would find the false card here?), he cashed the spade ace, ruffed a spade and took the diamond ace and king, before ruffing a diamond to dummy. After ruffing a spade to hand, declarer was down to the heart Q-10 and the diamond jack, while West had been forced to follow suit throughout and held J-9-3 of hearts. The diamond jack completed the coup: West ruffed and had to lead into the trump tenace.

The Lebi team won their knockout match by 11 IMPs when the other declarer was given the same chance at trick three but did not ruff a spade when in dummy with the heart ace!

For the record, in almost every variation, a diamond shift at trick two from East is either essential or at least as good as a club.

Without the double, you would have bid three clubs since a call of two no-trump would suggest more than this in diamonds. Now, however, you can pass, expecting partner to tell you why he forced to game. If he redoubles, you will pass, of course. Even a 3-3 diamond fit may take a lot of tricks! A redouble by you might suggest this hand with king-third of diamonds and a singleton heart.


♠ K 8 6 3
 7 3 2
♣ A K 9 6 3
South West North East
1 ♣ Pass 1 Pass
1 ♠ Pass 2 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


A.V.Ramana RaoApril 13th, 2019 at 9:32 am

Hi Dear Mr.Wolff
While it is logical for east to return a diamond at trick two , ironically , after cashing two clubs even heart K return would do the job as now south lacks entries to reduce his trumps adequately but who would lead heart K at trick three ? ( spade return at trick three will not be effective as south can stii bring the same three card position as in column line)

bobbywolffApril 13th, 2019 at 9:58 am


Thanks for your accurate analysis, complete with your likely right-on opinion of what is likely to happen, based upon the location of the important specific cards.

However, what about if West had gotten off to what turned out to be the sensational lead of the Jack of clubs from Jack five. Might not West then ruff the third club (South having falsecarded with the queen at trick two) and thus have only 2 or 3 small hearts left, but causing declarer to take a losing straight finesse, through West, for the king of hearts.

Yes, being at the table may determine what East does at trick three, but with an altogether ethical play at trick three, that could certainly occur and perhaps East at the first table guessed wrong.