Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, July 26th, 2019

We must beat the iron while it is hot, but we may polish it at leisure.

John Dryden

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

*Transfer to spades


In a deal from a Swiss teams event at last year’s Atlanta Summer Nationals, you play three no-trump on the lead of the diamond four to the five, jack and queen. You unblock the top spades, then a heart to the king loses to the ace. Back comes an unfriendly club 10; what do you play now?

East is likely to have Q-10-(8)x or something similar. He may be setting the suit up for himself or trying to set it up for his partner. It seems reasonable to cover with the jack, which loses to the king. Are you still paying attention? Now West tables the club six: What should you play from dummy?

The answer is that it doesn’t matter what you do now. The way the cards lie, you are down no matter what you do … unless you unblocked the club seven from dummy on the first round of clubs! If you didn’t, and you win the second club, the defenders will eventually win the heart queen, cash a second club and exit in diamonds to score the setting trick there. If you duck the second club, they play back a low club and achieve the same result.

However, if you unblock the club seven at once, then cover the return of the club six with the nine while ducking in the closed hand, you have a finesse position against East’s 8-4 of clubs for the ninth trick!

The defenders were Sam Dinkin (West) and Michael Shuster (East). At the other table, East shifted to a low club at trick four, and declarer Karen McCallum played low from hand to wrap up nine tricks.

Your red-suit cards are nice, but your spades do not look especially useful. A call of two hearts is more than sufficient here; you need partner to be able to act again for game to remain a consideration.


♠ Q J 9 4 2
 K 3
 A 9 5
♣ 9 7 3
South West North East
  1 ♣ 1 Pass
1 ♠ 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


bobbywolffAugust 9th, 2019 at 9:48 am

Hi Everyone,

While playing bridge, both declaring and defending, seeing too many spots before your eyes is likely not a good sign for your vision, but when it comes to card combinations and to gain an extra trick, more than imagined, it often becomes critical to get it right, sometimes even for the tiny ones.

In truth, it is just more numeracy to deal with, but without doing so in a consistent winning fashion, becomes a rather severe handicap to overcome.

Iain ClimieAugust 9th, 2019 at 4:12 pm

Hi Bobby,

The C10 is a class is surround play but the C7 unblock gives things a different spin. In the 2nd room, though, should the C4 be a sign that East hasn’t got Q108(x) although 10xx is clearly possible?



Iain ClimieAugust 9th, 2019 at 4:12 pm

Sorry, classic above

bobbywolffAugust 9th, 2019 at 4:40 pm

Hi Iain,

Both well felt and then correctly said, only to be just possibly more valuable in an advanced bridge classroom, where most might first be startled and then mysteriously, at least, slightly relaxed and relieved, with the resulting awe of our game, to what often so accompanies the love of numbers, but unfortunately for others, a simple, “what in the world am I getting into”?

bobbywolffAugust 9th, 2019 at 5:12 pm

Hi again,

Furthermore, one doesn’t have to be a Mozart in music or a Michelangelo in sculpture, painting, or architecture to succeed in bridge, only a fervent desire to put your big toe in the water and learn what follows.

Bob LiptonAugust 9th, 2019 at 5:34 pm

I occasionally discard a dummy card higher than I have to. It’s very effective on ambitiously advancing players who wind up puzzling over why I did that, and neglect to win their aces because they’re trying to figure out why I unblocked the 7. The fact that it is the right card to play is an occasional bonus.


bobbywolffAugust 9th, 2019 at 6:15 pm

Hi Bob,

You have just earned a new nickname, “Bob-Cat”, signifying giving those wily opponents confusing things to think about.

Furthermore, if you only drop it being the right card to play from 100% to 99%+ you’re definitely on the right track, but anything more drastic, may show a net minus.

Besides, if a declarer is up to discarding the seven of clubs from dummy on the first club led, your opponents will stay in envy of you for many moons, while also attracting all the beautiful women in the vicinity, who only just hear about it.