Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, May 7th, 2019

History always has a few tricks up its frayed sleeve. It’s been around a long time.

Terry Pratchett

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

*Short diamonds, agreeing hearts


In his new book, “Tricks of the Trade,” published by The Bridge World, Larry Cohen advises us always to avoid a brilliant low-percentage play when there is a high-percentage line, no matter how ordinary.

In today’s deal, you judge well or luckily not to bid the tempting slam. West leads the diamond queen; you win and cash a high trump, finding hearts 1-1. What is your plan to try for an overtrick?

An endplay is just about possible, though highly unlikely. You could eliminate the diamonds and hope that a defender has a singleton club ace. Or perhaps you could sneak one round of clubs past a player with a doubleton ace, then eliminate the diamonds and throw him in with a club, hoping for a favorable spade position.

But why look to such an unlikely layout? You have a much better chance with a more ordinary maneuver. At trick three, lead a low spade toward dummy, just as you would with ace-tripleton.

At least some of the time, an experienced West will duck (smoothly, he hopes), trying to give you a guess. How can West tell that the play of the spade suit isn’t the key to the deal? Ducking may give him a chance to set the game or hold the overtrick if you hold ace-third of spades and guess the suit incorrectly.

Yes, the elimination play is more spectacular, but you must resist the urge. Win the event on the next board, not this one.

This hand offers a choice of two actions: Do you go high with a negative double, or do you go low by passing? In favor of doubling is your minor-suit pattern, while against it are the singleton heart and dead-minimum values. I’m inclined to pass, expecting partner to reopen with spade shortness — a doubleton or shorter. If he passes, we may be better off defending, given my good lead and trump control.


♠ K 9 5
 Q J 9 5 4
♣ 9 7 5 4
South West North East
    1 1 ♠

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