Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, October 18th, 2019

The art of being wise is the art of knowing what to overlook.

William James

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


After South’s strong opening and North’s nebulous response, East’s two-spade intervention was meek at best. With so much offense, East should have aimed to take up space with a jump to three spades. As it was, South was able to name his suit at the three-level. When North raised to game, promising nothing, South took a punt at slam. Might North have considered temporizing with three spades? If so, I’m not sure whether South could have done more than bid four hearts.

Against the slam, West led the spade eight. On the sight of dummy, declarer could count only 11 tricks. Fortunately, dummy’s major-suit spots gave declarer a slim chance of maneuvering into an additional trick.

The opening lead was headed by the nine and king (East’s best attempt at a false card). Declarer won the club return in hand, cashed the heart ace and reached dummy with the heart eight to take the first of his ruffing spade finesses, leading the spade nine to try to pin the seven-doubleton or -tripleton in West’s hand.

Declarer ruffed East’s spade ace high, delighted to see the seven fall, returned to the heart 10 and called for another spade, ruffing out East’s queen. All that remained was to reach dummy with the diamond queen, to park the losing club on dummy’s established spade six.

Yes, South needed help on lead as well as some luck in the spot-cards, but he took advantage of his best chance to make the slam.

We are forced to bid and could either settle for two spades or attempt to find a minor suit fit via a scrambling two no-trump. Given that East has not raised hearts, partner is likely to have a doubleton heart and could easily be 5=2=3=3. In that case, we would prefer to play in spades at a cheaper level. So try two spades.


♠ 8 6
 7 5 4
 J 10 5 2
♣ Q J 7 6
South West North East
    1 ♠ Pass
Pass 2 Dbl. 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 2019. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact


Bob LiptonNovember 1st, 2019 at 10:01 am

Just to dot the i’s and cross the t’s, south ruffs the second spade high, draws two rounds of trumps in his hand and returns to dummy with the heart 10 — or eight, having unblocked the ten. Failure to draw West’s trumps means that east can play low on the third spade.

Nicely played hand, worthy of RIGHT THROUGH THE PACK

jim2November 1st, 2019 at 12:00 pm

Sorry, Bob, but the column text is correct. Declarer needs three dummy entries: 2 for ruffing finesses and the third to cash the established spade.

Declarer cashes one high trump, and uses one small trump to enter dummy for first ruffing finesse, then uses the other small trump as a dummy entry for the second ruffing finesse which at the same time draws the last trump.

bobbywolffNovember 1st, 2019 at 12:40 pm

Hi Bob,

And to be worthy of Darvas’ bridge masterpiece, “Right Through the Pack” we’ll give credit to the eight of hearts for enabling this slam, (or should it be the six of spades for being elevated to score up the slam making trick?). In either cases, like more often than many of us think, some otherwise mundane event, such as an against the odds, small chance meeting with someone else allows one of us to have a charmed life, worthy of a king or queen (to refer to our glorious game).

The key to winning at bridge or at life, is to take precaution and not bungle those rare occasions to which we need to be ever alert and not imitate an ostrich with our head in the sand.

Thanks for your presence and your continual contributions, although as our always perfectionist Jim2 commented, follow the trail, since we have the advantage of proofreading, although we sometimes abuse it and wind up making the wrong discard or some such.

bobbywolffNovember 1st, 2019 at 12:58 pm

Hi Jim2,

And thank you for once again, being our column guard, and setting the record straight with your protection with all things, especially bridge and its necessary particulars.

While it is good advice to cater to, “The devil is in the details” you will always win the award to certainly write, and thus no doubt speak, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, that significant quality likely emerging due to your curse of TOCM, proving again that there is usually at least perhaps some good, developing out of even, horrific strictures.