Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, April 27, 2009

Dealer: South

Vul: None

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


South West North East
1 Pass 2 Pass
3 Pass 5 Pass
6 All Pass    

Opening Lead:3

“The events in our lives happen in a sequence in time, but in their significance to ourselves they find their own order, … the continuous thread of revelation.”

— Eudora Welty

Put yourself in South’s shoes in this deal from a team game. Your partner’s intelligent call of five hearts suggested good hearts and clubs, but no controls in the unbid suits. Your excellent spade and diamond values allowed you to bid the heart slam. But how do you plan to make the contract after West leads a trump?

One declarer drew trumps, cashed the top clubs, and when they failed to break 3-3, led a spade back to his king and West’s ace. West now cashed the spade queen. South felt he had done his best by combining his chances in the black suits. However, at the score-up, he discovered he had lost a slam swing. Can you see why?

The declarer at the other table spotted an extra chance — namely, that the Q-J-x of diamonds would fall in three rounds. After drawing trumps, he cashed the A-K of diamonds, then crossed to dummy with a club to ruff the diamond seven. As you can see, dummy’s diamond 10 was established for the 12th trick.

Of course, if the diamond play had failed, the second declarer would have tested the clubs, and only when they failed to break would he have led up to the spade king.

Plays of this sort are sometimes called echelon plays. If you can, you want to exploit all of your chances in order before falling back on the play that will commit you to success or failure.

ANSWER: In auctions of this sort, there is no clear-cut reason to despair; your spades appear to be lying well enough, and your partner’s heart honors are over dummy. So simply lead a diamond (your long suit). Even if partner is not stacked in the suit, you may still be able to establish your long card.


South Holds:

K J 4 3
10 5
10 7 5 4
Q 7 2


South West North East
Pass 1

Pass 1
All Pass 2 Pass 3 NT


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