Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Dealer: West

Vul: None

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


South West North East
  1 Dbl. Pass
4S All Pass    

Opening Lead:K

“I needed a drink, I needed a lot of life insurance, I needed a vacation, I needed a home in the country. What I had was a coat, a hat and a gun.”

— Raymond Chandler

The Cavendish teams is an appetizer for the main event, the auction pairs. In 2008, 20 of the top teams in the world gathered for the event and played a nine-round Swiss — three stanzas of three matches. Here is one of my favorite deals from the event.


After West’s opening bid of one heart, the room had to choose between a three-no-trump contract, which had little play on three rounds of hearts, and a four-spade contract that was apparently doomed by the bad trump break.


At the table that I was watching, Eric Rodwell (ever the purist) pointed out that even against 4-1 trumps, four spades could be set on best defense. After his partner, Geoff Hampson, had led out the heart ace, king, and jack, Rodwell pitched a diamond rather than ruff in.


Now declarer would have been unable to draw trumps and set up diamonds since the hearts were ready to run against him, even if the trumps had split 4-1.


Remarkably, despite the 5-0 trump break, some declarers made their game. If they were lucky enough to have the defenders in the East seat miss the point and ruff in on the third heart, they could overruff, cash one top trump to find the bad news, then lead a low diamond from hand. Now the defenders were helpless. If West rose with the king, there was no ruff coming. If he ducked, declarer played three rounds of diamonds and claimed the rest.

ANSWER: When partner makes a trial-bid, as here, you expect to find honor-third or -fourth in the suit where he has shown length. Partner also rates to have five spades, or he might have bid two no-trump instead. Facing four clubs, your holding could not be better, so jump to four spades.


South Holds:

Q 10 6 2
Q 10 6
Q 10 5 3


South West North East

Pass 1 Pass
2 Pass 3



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