Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, August 23rd, 2018

To set the cause above renown,
To love the game beyond the prize.

Sir Henry Newbolt

W North
None ♠ Q
 5 4
 K Q 10 9 3
♣ Q 10 4 3 2
West East
♠ A 3
 10 8 2
 8 7 5 2
♣ A 7 6 5
♠ K 10 9 7 6 5 2
 J 6 4
♣ K J
♠ J 8 4
 A K Q 9 7 6 3
♣ 9 8
South West North East
  Pass Pass 3 ♠
4 All pass    


GeO Tislevoll was East here when his partner led the spade ace against four hearts. He followed with the two, suit preference for clubs. His partner played the club ace and another club, and he won the king as the declarer followed suit. What now?

With two trumps in dummy and a side-suit void, it seems normal to play back a trump, but Tislevoll realized that if he was going to set the contract, his partner would need a trump trick. (As a passed hand, West could not have three aces.)

Since a heart or diamond could not achieve anything, he realized a spade was all that was left. In that case, his best hope was to play the spade 10, not the king. That could give declarer a cheap spade trick, but it might not matter. The hope was that South had a 3=7=1=2 shape, with the singleton diamond ace. If declarer tried to ruff the spade in dummy and played the club queen, East would ruff in. Whatever happened, South would be left with an inevitable spade loser.

Yes, the contract can be beaten with a trump lead, and another trump when West gets in with the spade ace (or a low club shift at trick two for an eventual uppercut). However, leading the spade ace is only human. Also, it might seem natural for West to switch to a trump at trick two, but that would be fatal. Declarer wins, unblocks the diamond ace, ruffs a spade and can cash three diamonds to get rid of his remaining black losers.

Is a simple raise to three diamonds sufficient? Let’s say partner has 5-4 shape and three aces; you probably have three losers one way or another unless partner has a singleton club, but ruffing out that suit may prove troublesome. So I would just bid three diamonds. Make the club queen the king, and I might do more.


♠ Q
 5 4
 K Q 10 9 3
♣ Q 10 4 3 2
South West North East
  Pass 1 ♠ Pass
1 NT Pass 2 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 2018. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact

1 Comment

Judy Kay-WolffSeptember 6th, 2018 at 6:21 pm

Because of the original erroneous COMMENTS OFF originally appearing on today’s site, six comments and responses were made on the Wednesday site. So, check them out first. All is now up to date, so comments can be continued on the current Thursday site. Sorry for the inconvenience.