Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Saturday, July 13th, 2019

What I had not foreseen
Was the gradual day
Weakening the will
Leaking the brightness away.

Stephen Spender

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


Today, you decide to play four hearts, rather than to attempt three no-trump, because of your club fit. West starts out by leading two rounds of diamonds. You ruff and draw all the trumps. How should you continue?

You must try to protect yourself against an unfriendly lie of the cards in both black suits. So you should continue by crossing to dummy with a club in order to lead a low spade toward your jack.

When you lead a low spade from dummy, East wins with his queen and plays a third round of diamonds. You simply ruff and advance the spade jack to drive out the ace. A 4-1 club break is no longer a problem, since the club king will take care of your fourth diamond.

In essence, the recommended line will succeed whenever clubs break, though you may have given up on an overtrick. However, it also succeeds when clubs break 4-1 and either the spade ace is onside or East has both the ace and queen of spades — three-quarters of the possible lies of the spade suit. Leading directly to the king brings home the contract only when the spade ace is onside.

This position would be easier to see if you knew you needed a discard; here, though, that need is not entirely obvious. But if you cash two rounds of clubs before playing on spades, it will be too late to exploit the lie of the spades. You may be able to recover by a squeeze on East, but the recommended line is surely a better one.

Is this hand worth a game-forcing action? I say no, with precisely zero of your high cards in partner’s suits, and just one spade stopper for no-trump. Imagine how badly three no-trump will play facing a partner with the ace-queen in each of his long suits. If you invite to game by raising to three diamonds, you will rarely miss a good game.


♠ K 8 6
 6 4
 8 6 4 2
♣ A K Q 3
South West North East
    1 1 ♠
Dbl. Pass 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


Robert LiptonJuly 27th, 2019 at 1:04 pm

This line works whenever East holds the Spade Queen.


bobby wolffJuly 27th, 2019 at 5:36 pm

Hi Robert,

You have most likely learned to write as briefly as possible, since your
statement covered the most important feature.

Also declarer could have easily ruffed out East’s other diamond(s) before throwing him in with the 4th club, forcing him to lead spades from his side, but that line might not work if East had 2 more diamonds or if hearts were 4-1.

jim2July 27th, 2019 at 8:50 pm

It also works whenever West holds the Spade Ace.

IOW. it fails only when West has QS, East has AS, and clubs are 4-1.

Should ALL of those be wrong, there are still some small chances of a squeeze.

Bob LiptonJuly 27th, 2019 at 10:03 pm


Your subsiduary case where West holds the SAQ and by implication from the opening lead and continuation the DAK…. why has he passed throughout? If declarer could afford to play two rounds of clubs, he would soon discover west’s hand is perfect for a takeout double of 1 Heart. Yet west remains silent. Therefore he doesn’t have the SA. However, he might worryingly have the Queen.

bobby wolffJuly 28th, 2019 at 7:18 am

Hi Jim2 & Bob,

Like so many other things in life, it takes a team to work it out, and our group here sets, at least what I consider, an enviable role model for
getting it right. Thanks to all in the loop, who think and sometimes work overtime, to oblige.