Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, July 11th, 2019

Tide nor time tarrieth no man.

Robert Greene

S North
None ♠ J 7 6 2
 A K 4 2
 K Q J 9
♣ 10
West East
♠ 10 5
 9 7 6
 10 8 6 3
♣ Q 7 5 2
♠ K Q 3
 Q 10 3
 7 5 4 2
♣ K 9 8
♠ A 9 8 4
 J 8 5
♣ A J 6 4 3
South West North East
1 ♣ Pass 1 Pass
1 ♠ Pass 4 ♣ Pass
4 Pass 4 Pass
4 ♠ All pass    


Today’s deal was played in this year’s Tarrytown congress. The East and West cards reflect the reward for best declarer play.

North could use fourth suit, then bid spades at his third turn, suggesting four-card support and at least some slam interest. At the table, he chose instead to make a club splinter in support of spades. Both sides then cuebid, but each had weak trumps, so neither could advance beyond four spades.

It was wise to stop there, but if either North or South had slightly better trumps (the 10 in either hand), they would be aware that one trump honor opposite might suffice, and could use key-card to reach a respectable slam.

Assume you have managed to settle in four spades on a diamond lead. It would probably be sensible to duck a spade, then cash the trump ace and play a cross-ruff as your best line for 11 tricks. But what if you are in six spades? Your chances are now extremely slim. Your best bet is to lead a spade to the six at trick two. When East wins his queen and returns a club, you take the ace and ruff a club, then pass the spade jack, pinning West’s 10. This maneuver is known as an intra-finesse.

Assuming East ducks the jack, you next cash three rounds of diamonds, pitching a heart and two clubs, then three rounds of hearts, ruffing in hand. Finally, you cross your fingers and ruff a club in dummy. When that stands up, you take trick 13 with the trump ace.

Despite your lack of fit for clubs, you probably need to force your hand to game. The best way to start is with a cuebid of two spades, hoping to find a red-suit fit. If you next rebid three no-trump over three clubs, this should imply doubt about whether this is the right contract, allowing your partner to remove from three no-trump with very short spades and an appropriate hand.


♠ J 7 6 2
 A K 4 2
 K Q J 9
♣ 10
South West North East
  1 ♠ 2 ♣ 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

1 Comment

Bob LiptonJuly 26th, 2019 at 1:35 am

This line of play also works if West has the QT tight or the KT tight… almost all the time, since it is very hard for West to play the Ten when declarer leads a low Spade out of his hand.