Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Saturday, April 25, 2009

Dealer: West

Vul: None

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


South West North East
1 Pass Pass
2 Pass 4 All pass

Opening Lead: K

“Heroism feels and never reasons and therefore is always right.”

— Ralph Waldo Emerson

This hand, which arose in the 2004 USA Spingold teams semifinals, appeared in Tim Bourke and David Bird’s book, “Defending Suit Contracts.”

Both Wests, Lorenzo Lauria of Italy and Bob Hamman of the U.S. team, opened one spade. After two passes the Souths introduced their heart suits. The contract at both tables was four hearts.

Both Wests made their natural lead of a top spade, and each received a count signal from East, indicating an initial holding of three spades. You see three defensive tricks — two top spades and the ace of clubs — but where will the setting trick come from?

At first you might think it is the diamond suit, should partner have the king. East, however, was unable to muster up a response in spite of holding three-card spade support, so the more likely candidate for the diamond king is South. Even if partner has the diamond queen and declarer has king-third, declarer’s slow diamond loser would disappear on dummy’s clubs.

Both Lauria and Hamman came to the conclusion that their only hope was for partner to hold exactly two clubs. So, at trick two, they both brilliantly switched to a low club, away from the ace. Now, if declarer played a spade preparatory to ruffing the third spade in dummy, ace and another club gives East a ruff. And if declarer draws trumps before playing a second club, West would rise with the ace to cash two more spades.

ANSWER: Your partner has four spades and five or more diamonds, with a moderate hand but not a great one. (He could have jumped to two spades with extras.) I would simply give preference to two diamonds now. Since you responded voluntarily, partner should be able to infer you do have some values. If game is making, he will be able to bid on.


South Holds:

9 7 5
A Q J 5 2
K 2
J 5 2


South West North East
  1 1 Pass
1 Pass 1 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