Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, May 28th, 2019

Is not life a hundred times too short for us — to bore ourselves?

Friedrich Nietzsche

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

*Drury, a maximum pass with
  spade support


After North’s Drury two club response to show a maximum pass with fit, South checked for key cards, then bid the spade slam.

West’s lead of the diamond 10 went to dummy’s ace. Declarer needed to hold his losers in the black suits to one, but had to decide which black suit to play first. In these positions, it is sometimes right to go after the side suit first, but here South advanced the trump jack and let it run when East played low. West’s discard of a low heart gave declarer pause. Can you see a good plan for him now?

Declarer’s solution was to throw a club on the diamond ace, then to lead out dummy’s trump 10, covered by the king and ace. Next, he put the club jack on the table — a move that would guarantee the contract as long as East had at least two clubs.

As the cards lay, the defense had no answer to this line of play. If West took the trick with the club queen, declarer would use dummy’s club 10 as an entry to pick up East’s remaining trumps. He would end up with six trumps, a heart, two diamonds and three clubs.

At the table, West allowed the club jack to hold the trick. Declarer continued by cashing the club ace, then ruffing the club eight in dummy. East overruffed this with the seven, but that was the only trick the defense made. Declarer ruffed the return of the diamond queen and drew East’s remaining trump with the ace, after which his hand was high.

Your partner must be weak and unbalanced, since he surely has six clubs but chose not to repeat the suit at his second turn, and then he ran from one no-trump. I’d guess he has one spade and is maybe 4-6 in the minors with 11-12 points. You have no fit, no sure defensive tricks and no reason to think you can beat two spades. Go quietly and pass.


♠ K 9 7 4
 K J 8 6
 Q 6 3
♣ 5 2
South West North East
    1 ♣ Pass
1 1 ♠ Pass Pass
1 NT Pass 2 ♣ 2 ♠

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 2019. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact


JudyJune 11th, 2019 at 4:42 pm

After seeing this hand, how can anyone deny this is the greatest mind game ever!

Iain ClimieJune 11th, 2019 at 5:12 pm

Hi Judy, Bobby,

Maybe Jim2 if he found this line and East had a singleton C9 or even CQ? There again, don’t we dine out on hard luck stories e.g. the following from last Thursday.

I held xxx AKJxx Ax Kxx playing 12-14 NT and 4 card majors so opened 1H 2D from partner 2N (15-19 forcing) 3C (may be probing) 3H 4C (so not) 4D (marking time) 4S (great) 6C and I happily prepared to put my hand down. Long think from partner and 6N. LHO has a fair sized think and leads the H10 into the suit and dummy has AQx None K10987 AQJxx.

Well the lead helps (why not a spade, hopefully as LHO has the King) so I dumped a spade and, to preserve entries, played a diamond to the 10. This loses to the J and a heart comes back so win dumping a diamond, cash DA both follow, C to Q (both follow) DK and RHO has DQJxx. Oh well, C to K, Cash HA dumping dummy’s now useless diamond and take the spade finesse. Two off when 6C makes as partner ruffs one diamond low (over-ruffed) but one high and life is easy.

6N isn’t at all a bad spot but 6C in a moderate field would have been an excellent score so I don’t think the matchpoint odds were that sensible and the SAQx get exposed too whereas they’re safe at T1 in 6C. Assuming C aren’t 5-0 (so 96%), I need D3-3, doubleton diamond honour on my left, DQJxx(x) on my left, stiff honour on my left, DQJ alone on either side or the S finesse. Not my day.

Any improvements on my line gratefully accepted – excluding double dummy cases like running the D10 through RHO!



jim2June 11th, 2019 at 5:25 pm

I would note that the line of play might have been different if a heart had been led.

bobbywolffJune 11th, 2019 at 6:21 pm

Hi Iain,

Plenty of good news since going over your line of play at 6NT I cannot, while looking for one, find a single flaw in your masterful technique.

Next, I give heartfelt approval to your entire bidding sequence (even your 2NT rebid) without a spade stopper, since it basically met both other features (value and distribution) and since 2 out of 3 isn’t bad, although many would choose 2 hearts, only because of that excellent suit.

Delving deeper, when the “feel” became slam oriented I agree with your 4 diamond false preference and especially your leap to 6 clubs because of the overall quality of your high cards and changing opinion of the likely diamond ruff possibility to achieve the slam going trick.

However, under the heading of no good deed ever goes unpunished, your partner’s ever so slight “greedy” effort for a top board, obviously didn’t set well with Lady Luck. She, no doubt, got her revenge (to which you quite well documented) in spades (literally with the final finesse) to turn a likely happy moment into despair.

Oh well, think how telling this compelling story, plus the lessons, if any, to be learned, may have made it all worthwhile. Easy for me to say!!!

bobbywolffJune 11th, 2019 at 6:36 pm

Hi Jim2,

Yes, a heart lead into the teeth of the monster, might have allowed said player an end play or squeeze opportunity (depending on the heart break). However, I sincerely doubt that such an opportunity would have been forthcoming, allowing the heartbreak to be of another strain.

jim2June 11th, 2019 at 6:52 pm

Ah, with a heart lead, advancing the JS as in the column line would have produced an easy make.

Assuming (like in the text) East does not cover, advance the 10S, East covers, cross to AD, pitch club on KD, and draw trump. Now, simply lead the 8C.

The more torturous column line of play was necessitated by the removal of the Board entry on opening lead.

Iain ClimieJune 11th, 2019 at 8:14 pm

Hi Jim2,

Aren’t you in hand at T1 though? Now it has to be D to A and you’re in the same position as before. Don’t mind me, though, I’m still thinking I got TOCM on my hand as well since Ax opposite K10987 can always produce 3+ tricks somehow.

Hi Bobby,

Thanks for the confirmation that I didn’t foul up. Something about the operation being successful but the patient not surviving springs to mind. Still, the guy I was playing with (hello Chris S if you’re reading this) is hugely entertaining company and a very good player to boot; the occasional mishap just gets shrugged off at the table.



jim2June 11th, 2019 at 10:00 pm

Crap – you are right.


That’s why they keep me in the Lower Slobbovia tournaments and have not graduated to the Upper Slobbovis ones.