Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Dealer: South

Vul: N/S

10 6 5
A J 6 5
10 7 4
K 5 2
West East
4 Q J 9 8
Q 2 K 7 4 3
K Q 8 6 5 2 J 9 3
J 8 6 4 Q 9
A K 7 3 2
10 9 8
A 10 7 3


South West North East
1 3 3 Pass

Opening Lead: K

“There are only two qualities in the world: efficiency and inefficiency; and only two sorts of people: the efficient and the inefficient.”

— G.B. Shaw

On this deal from the 2002 World Bridge Championships, Margaret James was one of a very small number of players to make her vulnerable game.

Playing a five-card major system, a light major raise made it easy to reach game.

West led the diamond king, which declarer perforce won in hand. When there seems to be a danger from a forcing defense it is usually a good idea to start developing some tricks in the side-suits. Accordingly, at trick two declarer led her heart eight, which ran to East’s king. Declarer ruffed the diamond return in hand and cashed her ace-king of trumps. When West showed out, it didn’t matter. Declarer played another heart to the queen and ace, ruffed a diamond back to hand, unblocked her heart winner from hand, and cashed the ace and king of clubs and dummy’s heart jack. She now had 10 winners and East’s two spade winners and West’s club winner all fell on the last two tricks.

Note that at trick two declarer does best to lead the heart eight from hand (not the 10) because she does not want West to cover. Had declarer advanced the 10 it looks normal for West to cover, and now declarer needs to play very well to succeed. She must win the heart ace and ruff a diamond, then take just one top trump before playing a second heart.

ANSWER: This double is best played as a maximal double, meaning that your partner is telling you he has enough to try for game, but no space in which to make a try. (The opponents’ bidding took away that space.) A bid of three hearts by him would be purely competitive, NOT a game-try. On that basis you have good trumps and a nonminimum, enough to bid four hearts.


South Holds:

10 6 5
A J 6 5
10 7 4
K 5 2


South West North East
Pass 1 1 2
2 3 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 2009. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact