Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, July 25th, 2019

Would you do me a favor, Harry? Drop dead!

Billie, “Born Yesterday”

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


Jan Jansma was declarer on this deal from the second semifinal session of the Von Zedtwitz Life Master Pairs in Atlanta last summer. Would you have been good enough to defeat his game?

You, West, lead the heart jack against four spades: That goes to the queen, king and ace. Declarer plays a low diamond at trick two. As West, you would play low, I assume? If you do, partner wins the diamond king to play a trump.

When declarer plays low, you win your king … and shift to a club, I hope. This is necessary if you look at the full deal. As you can see, if you try to cash a heart, declarer has time to dispose of his club loser on the diamonds.

Jansma’s play of the heart queen at trick one might have encouraged the defenders to try to cash a heart, but Marshall Lewis, playing with Jan van Cleeff, wasn’t born yesterday. He duly shifted to a club and defeated the game. After all, the heart losers were unlikely to vanish from dummy, whereas club losers might be discarded on declarer’s diamonds.

Incidentally, Jansma might have gone up with the spade ace to play a second diamond, but since van Cleeff (who happens to be a former partner of Jansma’s) was perfectly capable of leading a spade away from the king, declarer couldn’t risk rejecting the finesse. The 5-2 diamond break would have been fatal anyway, since East would have been able to ruff in before all of dummy’s clubs could be discarded.

Do you believe, as I do, that your partner will normally deliver a shape-suitable hand for his double, or at least opening values, always with three or more cards in an unbid major? If you do, then it is a no-brainer to compete to two hearts here. Your partner does not have to bid the same hand twice, but you have shape and scattered values and must trust your partner for the rest.


♠ Q 10 8
 Q 8 6 4 3
 10 9
♣ Q 7 2
South West North East
  1 ♣ Dbl. Pass
1 1 ♠ Pass 2 ♣

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