Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, July 20th, 2018

Ah, what a dusty answer gets the soul
When hot for certainties in this our life!

George Meredith

W North
E-W ♠ 5 3
 A K 4 3
 A Q J 3
♣ A Q 6
West East
♠ K Q 9 8 4 2
 J 8
♣ 10 9 8 3
♠ 7 6
 10 9 7 5
 10 9 7 5
♣ J 7 4
♠ A J 10
 Q 6 2
 K 8 4 2
♣ K 5 2
South West North East
  2 ♠ Dbl. Pass
3 NT Pass 4 NT Pass
6 NT All pass    


Without West’s weak two-spade opening bid, it would have been natural to take two spade finesses in six no-trump. But West’s opener puts a different complexion on the deal, and although West might have opened with a spade suit of king-sixth or queen-sixth, that eventuality is rather unlikely at the vulnerability. Why rely on that, when you can achieve almost complete certainty?

When West leads the club 10 against six no-trump, the sensible way forward is to win in dummy, then cash four rounds of diamonds. West has to find three discards, and he can comfortably release his three small spades. Declarer now needs to find out more about West’s shape. He cashes the club king, all following, then the ace and king of hearts. When the heart jack puts in an appearance from West, South should suspect that West was dealt a 6=2=1=4 shape – kudos to West if he has dropped the jack from an original four-card suit!

A heart to the queen confirms the suspicion. Of course, if West had followed suit, there would have been 12 top tricks. But what should West pitch? He must discard a club in order to keep his spade holding intact. So now we can cross to the club queen to lead a spade to the 10. When West wins the trick, he is endplayed to lead from his remaining honor into South’s tenace, and the slam comes home.

After one no-trump is doubled for penalties, you can pass if you want to play there, and use your methods over one no-trump, with redouble as a way to force a call of two clubs, to escape to either two clubs or two diamonds. My best guess would be to redouble, planning to redouble two clubs for rescue. If partner wants to play two diamonds, he will bid it. If not, he will run to two hearts, you hope.


♠ 7 6
 10 9 7 5
 10 9 7 5
♣ J 7 4
South West North East
    1 NT Dbl.

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 2018. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact


Lee MitchellAugust 3rd, 2018 at 11:34 am

For the 7/20/18 column I don’t understand why you say a club must be discarded so west can hold his last 3 spades. If he discards a spade, he will still win one spade and can then play the club to set the game.

A V Ramana RaoAugust 3rd, 2018 at 11:56 am

Hi Lee
After nine cards have been played , with dummy holding two spades, one heart and one high club will be on lead. If West retains three spades , he is endplayed with dummy cashing club and leading spade with South playing J. And if West comes down to bare K &Q of spades and retains two clubs , South simply ducks spade to West and claims on return Please note that no deception is possible as all of west’s cards are accounted for.

A V Ramana RaoAugust 3rd, 2018 at 11:58 am

Again , I hope that I have our kind host’s permission

jim2August 3rd, 2018 at 12:07 pm

Lee Mitchell –

As AVRR said, the secret is that declarer has not yet cashed the last club winner/stopper. Declarer is watching West’s discard on the QH. If West discards the spade (instead of the club), declarer would reverse the order of playing the black suits from the text.

Interestingly (to me), elsewhere in the text, there was this:

A heart to the queen confirms the suspicion. Of course, if West had followed suit, there would have been 12 top tricks.

I am not sure the “Of course” was merited, but the statement is correct. If West had a 3rd heart, then either the suit would split 3-3 or West would be squeezed in the majors when declarer cashes out all minor winners. (The board has long hearts while the closed hand has long spades and West cannot guard both.)

bobbywolffAugust 3rd, 2018 at 3:24 pm

Hi Lee, AVRR, & Jim2,

Thanks Lee for posing the question, AVRR for giving the answer, and to Jim2 for not only questioning the wording, but for confirming AVRR’s analysis.

No doubt Lee, the declarer (in this case) needs to keep up closely with West’s hand, first remembering the bidding (this time maybe not totally necessary, but helpful to secure an estimate beforehand of likely 6 spades to the KQ). However when West shows out of both red suits, the suspicions become reality.

Also and from an experienced viewpoint, once our thought process learns to piece together 13 card holdings (much easier to almost all players than contemplated) the process becomes almost second nature to do, like brushing one’s teeth, only the joy which accompanies the result is much greater than any toothpaste can taste.

I read recently that the next centuries of life will concentrate on using our brains to much greater advantage since all those thousands of years before we have neglected, so if you will excuse the expression, “what is on top of our face”.

The desire to play top level bridge is enough incentive for perhaps 95+% of humans to accomplish exactly that by utilizing that concentration talent to make it at one’s disposal as simple as a “slam dunk”.

But newborns will have to wait until they are five or six years old before they will have the know how (or the why) to do it, but from then on, no problem and likely easier than to learn to tie your shoe laces into a bow.

After all, counting to 13 and thus to 52, is also taught early in a school curriculum so why not put it to use in a way which benefits one’s ego.

Of course the game itself teaches numerate visualization, so all roads point to utilizing that aspect of one’s brain to play our beautiful game to best advantage with only the sky being the limit.

LeeAugust 4th, 2018 at 12:37 pm

Thanks, I got ahead of myself and had the club queen stppper already played

AdrianAugust 8th, 2018 at 1:11 am

The casino might give $1 for each 100 comp points.