Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, December 20th, 2019

Just when we’re safest, there’s a sunset-touch, A fancy from a flower-bell, someone’s death, A chorus-ending from Euripides.

Robert Browning

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


On today’s deal, suggested by Michael Rosenberg, North-South reach the normal spade game, but even with the hands fitting well, finding a “sure tricks” line is difficult.

You might reasonably assume this was one of those textbook hands where after cashing the spade ace, you cross to dummy in hearts (which the defenders must duck), then lead a spade to the jack when East follows. This way, you have a re-entry to dummy in spades for the 13th heart if trumps are 2-2, or trumps will play for no losers if they are 3-1.

Alas for you, it is West who has the spade length. Now, when the heart ace is held up, you will have no way to pick the club suit, since the defenders can exit in diamonds at their every opportunity. A slight improvement would be to ruff a diamond at trick two and follow the same plan, which might give you a chance to make on the actual layout.

The best line, though, is to win the diamond ace and ruff a diamond, take the spade ace, lead a heart to the jack (which must be ducked) and ruff a diamond. Next, lead the heart king. If the defenders duck, play another heart. Should they take a heart ruff at any stage, you have a sure discard coming on the hearts, plus a trump entry to reach it.

As the cards lie, East has to choose between providing you with an entry to dummy’s long heart and being endplayed to lead into the split tenace in clubs or give you a ruff-and-sluff via a diamond exit.

You should double. You have support for all the other suits and a hand that is good enough to compete with. The lack of a fourth heart is not a problem; a three-suited hand should be treated as such — especially when it is really only worth one call. Two clubs would both be inflexible and exaggerate the quality of the suit while possibly missing a red-suit fit.


♠ 7
 A 5 2
 K J 8 4
♣ K J 9 6 4
South West North East
      1 ♠

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