Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Dealer: South

Vul: All

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


South West North East
1 Pass 2 Pass
2 Pass 3 Pass
3 NT All Pass    

Opening Lead:6

“By day thy warning ringing bell to sound its notes,

By night thy silent signal lamps to swing.”

— Walt Whitman

The Chinese women’s team is surely the strongest team never to have won a world championship, but they are closing in, losing the World Championship last fall by just 1 IMP. When their B team won the prestigious China Cup teams competition, this deal contributed to their semifinal victory.


Against three no-trump West led the club six, an attitude lead (the lower the card, the more the leader likes the suit). Plan the play as declarer.


When South played low from dummy on the club, East won and switched to the spade jack, covered by the queen and king. West was now able to continue with the ace and nine of spades. When she got in with the diamond ace, she had four more spade tricks to take, and declarer went four down.


If declarer had won the club ace at trick one and played a diamond, West could have put her partner in with the club king, but as East has the spade jack, the defenders can take only two spade tricks, and three no-trump comes home.


Should declarer have known what to do? The high spot-card lead suggests the club finesse will lose. If you play low at trick one and lose to the club king, you will go down after a spade shift on almost every layout. However, if you play dummy’s club ace, you will succeed when East has the spade jack, regardless of who has the club king.

ANSWER: Although it is possible to construct hands where your side can make slam, it is too long a shot to look for the perfect hand opposite. Just bid four spades and hope you can make it. The adage that one should never look for the ideal hand opposite because partner never has it has more than a grain of truth to it.


South Holds:

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


South West North East
    1 Pass
1 2 2 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

1 Comment

Bobby WolffJune 10th, 2009 at 12:55 pm

Poor proofing by me!

Thirteen omitted words should have ended the prose: “assuming West either has the diamond ace or, of course, the club king”, instead of “regardless who has the club king”. The spade combinations are quite varied and difficult to discuss intelligently.