Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday May 4th, 2017

Young men have a passion for regarding their elders as senile.

Henry Brooks Adams

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

*game-forcing with hearts

**three key cards


Today’s deal features two of the people most involved with setting up Senior events as a separate category in international bridge. Goran Mattsson of Germany and the late Doctor Nissan Rand of Israel won the Brighton Summer Congress a few years ago, and this deal certainly helped them.

Rand, who was always an optimist, drove to slam facing three key-cards. Mattsson received the lead of the diamond jack, and inserted dummy’s queen. Now declarer drew two rounds of trump, then continued with a second diamond towards the ace-nine. West put up the 10, and dummy’s ace was played.

South next drew the last trump and cashed the club king and ace, then ran the spade nine to East’s jack. What would you do as East now?

Noting the ace-queen-10 of spades in dummy, East returned a club. Mattsson ruffed in hand and discarded the diamond nine from dummy. Next came the diamond eight, and when West withheld the king – covering would not have helped – declarer let it run. Then South’s last diamond was trumped in dummy, for Mattsson to claim his slam.

Curiously, had East returned a spade instead of a club, one of South’s diamonds would have gone away, but not both, and the slam would have failed. West’s count signals in spades and clubs should have given East the full picture here. But note that even if South started life with three spades and three diamonds, the spade play still sets the hand.

Had East not suggested values, you might have raised to two hearts, but should not do so here. Your hand is all about defense; if your RHO promises decent values with a call at the two-level, then when you raise hearts you should have a decent hand, decent hearts or decent offense. You have none of these, and don’t want to direct a heart lead, so pass. You might reopen over two diamonds, of course.


♠ K J 8 6
 6 4 3
 5 2
♣ Q J 10 2
South West North East
  1 1 2 ♣

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Reproduced with permission of United Feature Syndicate, Inc., Copyright 2017. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact


Iain ClimieMay 18th, 2017 at 12:30 pm

Hi Bobby,

If diamonds are 3-3 but the spade K was onside, declarer has just gone off in a contract Mrs. Guggenheim might have made. Any thoughts on the best single dummy line here? DKJ10 is perhaps les likely than DKJ10x, maybe east signalled, but South’s relatively early lead towards the DA9 surely indicates he has D8xxx; he wouldn’t do that with Dxxx or 8xx but would be taking two spade finesses instead.



Bobby WolffMay 18th, 2017 at 2:47 pm

Hi Iain,

Your analysis was not only accurate with result, it was annotated properly and left no doubt as to East’s major error.

Well, what do you and I suspect? Naturally, East being a Senior (likely over 60 years old, but back then he might have only been over 55), he didn’t take the time to reason it out by merely counting out the hand, based on your reasoning. Also, if declarer had a 3rd club, why didn’t he ruff it out before arriving at the death?

An easy task for a few, but seemingly insurmountable for many. Just maybe when we get to be their age, we will better understand the laziness. (“A joke, son, especially about me).