Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, April 29th, 2019

It is characteristic of mankind to make as little adjustment as possible in customary ways in the face of new conditions.

Robert and Helen Lynd

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


After identical auctions, both West players in a team game led a fourth-highest spade two against three no-trump rather than a second-highest spot-card.

At the first table, when declarer played low from dummy, East won with his king and counted the outstanding high cards. As he had 10 points, dummy had 7, and he knew of 20 or so to his left, West could have at most 3 points. There was very little future in spades; one more spade trick would not defeat the contract. East decided to play West for three or four clubs and a red-suit king or the club queen. So, he continued with a low club at trick two.

Declarer won the trick in dummy to run the diamond jack. West took this with the king and continued the attack on clubs. East won his club ace and king and cashed his remaining club to defeat the contract.

At the other table, declarer planned the play in some detail at trick one, counting eight likely tricks in the form of the spade ace, four hearts and three diamonds. While a ninth could come from one of the black suits, declarer saw that if East had the spade king, that player might find the unwelcome shift to a club at trick two.

So declarer took the spade ace at once, then ran the diamond nine. West won the trick with the diamond king, and declarer claimed the contract: The defenders could take a spade and two clubs, but that was all. Declarer would set up a ninth trick from one of the black suits sooner or later.

Unless they are extremely subtle and devious, your opponents have conducted an auction that suggests they have a heart weakness. As long as you have no reason to suspect them of being confidence tricksters, lead the heart king and try to hit declarer’s soft underbelly.


♠ J 10 8 6 4
 K 5
 8 7 5 2
♣ 8 2
South West North East
      1 ♣
Pass 1 ♠ Pass 2 ♣
Pass 2 Pass 3 ♣
Pass 5 ♣ All 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


Iain ClimieMay 13th, 2019 at 9:19 am

Hi Bobby,

The first declarer might have felt a little unlucky, and obviously his line is fine at pairs or Point-A-Board. Even so, the chance of both the SK and DK being wrong is 25% so it is hardly an insignificant threat to the contract. I saw an interesting extra chance over the weekend. Declarer had J1076x opposite AQx in trumps and could have found the small (but working ) extra chance of leading a small heart towards the AQx in case LHO had a singleton King. He led the J and I got a trump trick with 98xx but unfortunately partner’s not unreasonable looking lead at T1 had already cost the game going trick against 4H. Whether he’d have found the play on a passive lead, I don’t know. K9xx and similar onside can’t be picked up of course.



bobbywolffMay 13th, 2019 at 2:35 pm

Hi Iain,

Being the bridge warrior that you are, helps to make you acutely aware of more effective ways to play card combinations.

The cold fact of often not producing either the setting trick nor, as declarer, the contract maker, reduces the overall thrill, except, of course, the internal one of “getting it right”.

Add the above to, possibly in your stated case, sometimes 2nd best plays, such as the original jack (or ten) immediately may facilitate an entry shortage which needed due consideration as an exception, in turn, making its play likely correct.

Obviously all the very best declarer can do is go with the better percentage choice, including psychological as well as material factors and oft times that determination, will be a daunting task.

However, to my knowledge, one who thinks he knows who is the best, whether himself, herself or some other is only kidding himself since there are so many variables and up to now, if any of the world’s greatest doesn’t perhaps average double digit likely at least, tiny errors, during even one session of bridge, I’d disbelieve anyone who would claim that performance.

Eventually a robot may be created who might qualify for such a being, but examples up to now, not being even as close as the fartherest planet in the galaxy.

My above motive for such a statement is intended to be more of a challenge than a fact.

BTW, always thanks for your constructive comments which, no doubt are consistently valuable.