Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, October 15th, 2019

Mathematics is the science which draws necessary conclusions.

Benjamin Peirce

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


Even without a sixth diamond, South’s two-level overcall seems normal on today’s deal. North contented himself with a simple raise to five diamonds after West bid pre-emptively to four hearts. If four no-trump had been available to show a slam try in diamonds, he might have considered that.

When West led a heart, declarer saw that East and West had just 16 points between them, but he failed to follow through with this thought. He ruffed the opening lead in dummy, then crossed to hand with a trump to ruff his second heart. Declarer then continued with a low club from dummy, expecting East to hold the ace.

However, West captured the king with his ace and unkindly sent back a second club. East covered dummy’s 10 with the jack, and South won his queen. Declarer knew that East held the spade king for his opening bid but still desperately tried the finesse. As expected, it lost, and the club nine was the setting trick.

South played the black suits in the wrong order. For East to have an opening bid, he needed to hold at least one of the spade king or the club ace. After eliminating hearts and drawing trumps, declarer does best to lead a low spade from dummy. If East rises with the king, declarer has three spade tricks as home for two of his losing clubs.

If East plays low, South has no spade losers and can afford to concede two clubs. If West takes the spade jack with the king, then the club ace must be onside with East.

The textbooks would recommend opening one diamond and rebidding two clubs. Modernists would open one no-trump as often as possible. Here, with honors in your short suits, one no-trump is your best tactical option, serving to rightside most contracts facing a balanced hand. It also pre-empts the opponents while getting your strength across to partner. Do I recommend it? Maybe.


♠ J 4
 Q 4
 A Q J 9 6
♣ K Q 3 2
South West North East

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