Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, June 26th, 2017

The hard half-apathetic expression of one who deems anything possible at the hands of Time and Chance, except perhaps fair play.

Thomas Hardy

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


South’s rebid of two no-trump shows a balanced 22 to 24 points. North has almost enough to consider the possibility of slam. But what should he bid now?

Of course, if North’s long suit were a major, he would transfer into it, en route to three no-trump. That option does not really exist when your long suit is a minor, though. Some people use three spades as Minor Suit Stayman, but exploring for slam in a minor suit would risk going past three no-trump. With no singleton, North has no reason to bypass no-trumps, that being his side’s most likely game.

When dummy comes down in three no-trump after East’s heart lead, South can see he needs four tricks in diamonds to ensure his contract. A fifth diamond trick would be welcome, but since the value of the game far exceeds the overtrick, South cannot afford to jeopardize his contract in search of an extra 30 points.

At matchpoint pairs it would be perfectly reasonable to play diamonds from the top; after all, the chance of a 3-2 break is better than two in three. But if South takes the diamond ace then wins the second diamond in dummy, he can take only three tricks in the suit and three no-trump will go down.

At teams or rubber, South should duck the second round of diamonds – even if West deviously drops the jack at his second turn! This duck protects declarer against the four-one break, a precaution that is necessary today to bring home the contract.

The age old issue: keep partner happy by leading his suit, or attack in what you consider to be your best prospect on defense, namely hearts? I’m going to damn the torpedoes and lead what I think is right, by putting a small heart on the table. The fact that a spade lead is so likely to cost a trick persuades me to do this.


♠ A 4
 J 10 7 6 3
 J 8 4
♣ Q 7 2
South West North East
  1 ♣ 1 ♠ 1 NT
All pass      

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 2017. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact