Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Wednesday, June 14th, 2023


Iain ClimieJune 14th, 2023 at 7:24 am

Hi Bobby,

You say that HQJxx can be picked up in either hand but is this really true? After a heart to the 10 losing, you can only cope with West having 4 hearts not east so need to play the HK while the absence of the H8 is a further problem. Perhaps the give away here is the S8 coming back which suggests relative shortage with East and hence long trumps.

The problem now is that if spades are 6-2 then HA and H to the 10 walks into an overruff if West has HQx. So if West has short hearts it is a question of whether he has HQ / J alone or one of 3 small ones with East holding QJxx (more likely). Cashing the HA with East holding the latter then a H to the 10 sees East split his honours. South wins and can unravel as East doesn’t have enough spades to keep punching but what if West had the CA and spades were 5-3? Truly horrible at single dummy due to the extra choices available.



Shantanu RastogiJune 14th, 2023 at 8:07 am

Hi Iain

I think there is a typo error in the column. What Bobby Sir mean after playing h to ten cash h k to cater qj fourth in both hands.


Shantanu Rastogi

Iain ClimieJune 14th, 2023 at 8:43 am

Hi Shantanu,

That makes sense,



A V Ramana RaoJune 14th, 2023 at 11:15 am

Hi Dear Mr Wolff
Perhaps declarer at first table did not realise the potential of nine and ten of trumps in NS hands. He could have played either A or K of hearts after winning diamond return. If it were A, he would prevail if W held a stiff picture card /8. And if he plays K he would be home if east held a stiff picture card/8 but would lose in much lesser percentage of west holding QJ8x if A is played and QJ8x with east if K is played. And if hearts break, there would never be any problem.

Iain ClimieJune 14th, 2023 at 11:23 am


There is one sting in the tail if the spades lie as here. Suppose the HA is cashed and a heart is led to the 10 losing to HQx. Now another spade from West promotes a trump for East’s Jxx. If East held HQJx and West the CA then playing a heart to hand and then small to the 9 walks into a similar problem. As the cards lie, though, Mrs. Guggenheim makes it my playing a heart to to the King then running the H10 as East can’t punch dummy with another spade and also holds the CA.

There is a recent Kit Woolsey post on Bridge Winners where he makes the point that sometimes you just have to hope trumps are 3-2 (or a very favourable 4-1 as here). A bad player wouldn’t have the imagination, knowledge and foresight to find a losing line as the cards lie. I can only sympathise with South.



A V Ramana RaoJune 14th, 2023 at 12:35 pm

Hi lain
My line caters to east returning diamond as happened. Instead, if he returns spade, it is clear that he is angling for a ruff. Now , leadi heart A and K hoping for break. However today west plays Q on A and the finesse of ten assures the contract as even if it loses to J in west hand! ( West false carding from QJ), dummy can ruff spade return with nine and pick up east’s trump later.

bobbywolffJune 14th, 2023 at 2:32 pm

Hi, Iain, Shantanu, & AVRR,

Yes, apologies for my creation of the heart attack. No doubt I should have been more circumspect in my poor description.

Perhaps I could (should) have referred to “in a vacuum, the better heart play was a low one from the dummy to the ten in hand”. but rarely do any of us play in a vacuum, but instead with other more likely defensive divisions to deal with what has transpired up to the crucial choices, including the bidding and the opening lead. To not do so, could and definitely should, be considered a grievous to worse declarer choice.

Perhaps, when defining which defensive pair or pairs of bridge players cause the greatest number of errors by their opponents, we should rightly factor that result into their overall ranking, since I would totally agree that this factor alone, makes this pair a much greater task to merely declaring against them, when “pop goes the weasel” often appears, seemingly out of thin air.