Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, May 28, 2009

Dealer: South

Vul: All

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


South West North East
1 Pass 2 Pass

Pass 2 Pass
3 Pass 4 All Pass

Opening Lead:3

“It’s them that take advantage that get advantage in this world.”

— George Eliot

What do you think declarer’s chances are in today’s four spades? You might say “not good,” but if you knew that declarer was the redoubtable Boris Schapiro, you might adjust your thinking.


The scandal in Buenos Aires has tended to cloud people’s recollection of him as a player, but you had to get up very early in the morning to outfox Boris!


The deal occurred in the European Championships held in Ireland 50 years ago.


Against four spades (reached after an old-fashioned but reasonable auction), West led the diamond three to East’s king and South’s ace. It looks as if declarer must lose a diamond and three spades, but watch the master at work.


Schapiro led the club jack, covered by the king and ace, and then the heart queen, also covered by the king and ace. He now cashed the heart jack and led the eight. West understandably (but wrongly) played low, so Schapiro discarded dummy’s remaining diamond. Note that this was a no-cost play — at worst he was swapping one loser for another.


Now declarer ruffed a diamond in dummy, ruffed a club in hand, and ruffed his last diamond in dummy. This brought his trick total up to eight. He now played dummy’s club queen and discarded his last heart. West ruffed, but Schapiro’s last four cards were the K-Q-9-6 of trumps and he could not be prevented from making two more tricks.

ANSWER: You might guess which major to bid at the one-level and hope you were lucky. Alternatively, you might cue-bid two clubs. Since you are a passed hand, this suggests values, but not necessarily a game-force. So if partner now bids a major at the two-level, you can simply pass the response, assuming he has no extras. With a good hand, he should do more than make a minimum response.


South Holds:

A J 10 7
10 7 3 2
Q 5 3
K 6


South West North East
Pass Pass 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