Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Dealer: South

Vul: E/W

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


South West North East
2 Pass 4 All Pass

Opening Lead:Q

“Most of the sighs we hear have been edited.”

— Stanislaw Lec

In today’s deal from an international match, three no-trump was played at one table and had gone down (though it should have made); at the other table the contract was four spades, which looked harder to make.


Against four spades West led the club queen, dummy’s ace winning the trick.. Declarer then ruffed a club and led the spade jack. When it held, he continued with another spade to the king and ace, and ruffed another club, East’s king appearing.


South now led a heart to dummy’s jack and East’s queen. (There was certainly a case for leading a heart to the king since if East had the club king and heart ace, he was less likely also to have the diamond king.) Clearly East could not play diamonds to advantage, so he continued with a heart to West’s ace. West now played a third round of hearts, declarer discarding a diamond.


Declarer was now pretty sure that East held the diamond king. It looked as if West had started out with Q-J-10-x-x-x in clubs, as well as the spade king and heart ace. Surely he would have overcalled three clubs had he held the diamond king as well. Accordingly, declarer played dummy’s last heart. When East followed, declarer simply discarded a diamond and East had to lead away from his diamond king. Had East discarded on the fourth round of hearts, declarer would have ruffed the trick and run the diamond nine, again endplaying East.

ANSWER: This sequence is NOT Gerber. It is a self-agreeing slam-try for spades, suggesting a singleton club. In that context your hand is magnificent (great trumps and nothing wasted in clubs). Bid five clubs now, suggesting the club ace and no first-round red-suit control; but be prepared to bid slam over a sign-off. You can hardly do less.


South Holds:

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


South West North East
1 NT Pass 2 Pass
2 Pass 4 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


RobJune 17th, 2009 at 8:50 am

Dear Bobby,

Just a quick question. You say that 3NT should have made here. But I can’t for the life of me figure out how (on a club queen lead). Or do you just mean that in the actual match the defense made a mistake (such as East not unblocking his club king), but that South failed to capitalize on it? Can you help me? Thanks!

DarinTJune 17th, 2009 at 12:38 pm

I suspect that North played 3NT and East led a red suit, giving declarer his ninth trick.

Bobby WolffJune 17th, 2009 at 2:19 pm

Hi Rob and DarinT,

Since this was a real hand, played in an International match, yes it was played from the North position and a club was not led. However North (declarer) did not stake his whole contract on going to the diamond ace and leading a low spade, hoping for either a singleton or doubleton king from West. Since declarer played conservatively instead of aggressively (and risk down a lot) he not only didn’t win fair maiden, but instead was subject to scorn.

Good question, Rob and good analysis DarinT!

RobJune 17th, 2009 at 7:24 pm

Splendid! Thanks, gentlemen!