Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Wednesday, October 30th, 2019

My sentence is for open war: Of wiles More unexpert, I boast not.

John Milton

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


Nothing would tempt me to open the North hand, but at the table, the player with those cards did not see it that way, and a poor game was reached.

West kicked off passively against four spades with the trump jack. Declarer had no immediately obvious way of disposing of his losing heart, as the club king was more likely on his left. South decided his best chance was to arrange an endplay against West. He therefore sought to eliminate the hearts without letting East on lead for a club switch.

Declarer won the trump lead in dummy and led a low heart. East played small, and so did South. Upon winning with the heart 10, West exited with a heart to the ace. Declarer crossed to the table with the trump eight, ruffed a heart, played another trump to the queen and ran the diamond 10 to West’s jack.

After cashing the diamond ace, West was caught between a rock and a hard place.

A club continuation would float around to the queen, and declarer would then need only to ruff a diamond in dummy. West could place both red-suit queens with his partner, so South had to have the club queen. Therefore, West’s only chance was to concede a ruff-and-discard by leading a heart, hoping his partner had the diamond eight.

No such luck. Declarer ruffed in dummy, throwing his club loser, and finessed in diamonds to make his game.

Do you think West could have figured out to play the diamond ace and another diamond at trick three, to escape the endplay?

You do not have much in reserve for a two-level overcall, but you must not give up. Your extra shape and short spades demand that you protect, in an effort to buy the partscore. Double, and don’t worry too much about partner bidding three diamonds. He would have at least five of them for that bid, probably six. (A call of two no-trump by him would be a scramble here, not natural).


♠ J
 K 10 7 2
 A J
♣ K J 7 6 5 2
South West North East
      1 ♠
2 ♣ 2 ♠ Pass Pass

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Reproduced with permission of United Feature Syndicate, Inc., Copyright 2019. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact


A V Ramana RaoNovember 13th, 2019 at 2:52 pm

Hi Dear Mr.Wolff
In the way declarer played , West could have led diamond A followed by J netting four tricks for defense but South could have circumvented this by running diamond ten at second trick. West can win but is hopelessly endplayed. If he leads heart, South gets second heart trick simultaneously taking care of losing club in hand. If he leads club again there is no problem and if he finds the imaginative play of A of diamond on ten and return J ,South can prevail by ducking ( but as you will appreciate , this is strictly double dummy but perhaps can be played in actual play too as South does not have option but to endplay West)

Bobby WolffNovember 13th, 2019 at 4:01 pm


First, your bridge analysis certainly, at least on the surface, appears more positive, and for skeptics, sometimes easier to fully believe than religious doubters during a session with their high end local religious leaders.

When he asks, “Do you believe?” obviously the expected answer is “Yes!” but only because most of us are trained to not doubt officials, especially when connected to one’s religion.

However, in matters of bridge and its analysis, which can be proven or not, right on the spot, without protocol nor fanfare, only by bridge brain work, shared by any or everyone who feels up to it.

To me, this truism is not to be underestimated and a primary reason for the popularity of our great game which began almost a century ago when contract bridge was invented to no less than thrill intelligent people who flocked to learn it (of course, at many different talent levels), but, at that time, became a symbol of thinking logically and more than that, making use of one’s mind, especially numerically.

From that, since today’s hand could have featured West who, because of the early play should have suspected, beyond doubt that declarer held the Qx of clubs, making his offbeat, but sensational diamond play of winning the 10 of diamonds run to him and then won by the ace instead of the jack.

Obviously, our beloved game is so much easier, while analyzing, looking at all four hands (what if declarer held only the queen instead of the king of diamonds?) but even so, that often tedious thinking is good for all of us in using our grey matter, instead of simply ignoring its existence.

In any event, much thanks to you and significant others on our site, who continually contribute in promoting our game, with no less than tantalizing what ifs.

Bobby WolffNovember 13th, 2019 at 4:35 pm

Hi again AVRR,

BTW, if left to his own devices West, if left alone to first lead hearts, can lead the 10 without fear, assuming the same heart holding around the table, of presenting declarer with an additional undeserved trick. And if that option is presented and West suspects declarer to have exactly two hearts in hand, the 10 strongly stands out to lead, protecting East’s isolated queen, if he happens to hold it.

For those intelligent, but newer players, by working out those card combinations while just scrutinizing some particular hand, he or she will then become convinced just how important a penchant for numbers becomes in advancing to the up elevator in improving one’s bridge game.

Finally the good news: While constant numeracy is ever present in both the bidding and the play (declarer and defense) the overall numbers are never higher than 52 cards with 13 per hand the common denominator.

For those qualified to think in terms of numbers, I guarantee that the necessary process will soon fall into line and not even close become the monster one may first think it, in fact, is.

A V Ramana RaoNovember 14th, 2019 at 5:42 am

Yes Sir
The return of ten of hearts along with west leading A of diamond and J from west ensures that the contract gets defeated. But that possibility takes this into the realm of doubledummy where perhaps bizarre and preposterous looking plays ensure making or breaking the contract( as the case may be) But then, doubledummy is very fascinating and mind boggling and for one who is interested in it (like me) provides for excellent stimulation of the mind
Kind Regards

Bobby WolffNovember 15th, 2019 at 1:24 am


No doubt everything you say about double dummy is fascinating and for one, you, who inevitably is superior with numbers, can take that above suspected fantasy and turn it into reality.