Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Saturday, June 6, 2009

Dealer: North

Vul: All

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


South West North East
    1 Pass
1 Pass 3* Pass
4 Pass 4 Pass
5 Pass 6 All Pass
*A raise to three spades with a singleton diamond

Opening Lead:7

“He that diggeth a pit shall fall into it.”

— Ecclesiastes 10:8

In the ’70s and ’80s there was an annual competition for expert players sponsored by BOLS Royal Distilleries of the Netherlands. Each year several experts were invited to submit a ‘bridge tip. All tips were published, and the best received prizes. In 1989, Zia Mahmood’s winning tip was: “When they don’t cover, they don’t have it.”


However, when the following deal turned up in the Swiss teams at the U.S. Spring Nationals, he no doubt wished he had kept his ideas to himself.


Six spades was reached at both tables. On the auction shown, North knew that his side was missing a club control when South could not cuebid five clubs over four hearts, so did not look for a grand slam. In one room East doubled the final contract and ruffed the opening heart lead, defeating the contract.


In the other room Zia did not double, but Michael Rosenberg still led a heart. Zia ruffed and returned a diamond. Declarer, Jim Mahaffey, won with the ace, drew two rounds of trump ending in his hand, cashed the heart king, and led the club queen. When West played low, declarer decided that West did not hold the king. Accordingly, he played dummy’s club ace, cashed two hearts while discarding clubs from his hand, and led dummy’s club jack. Zia played the king and declarer ruffed. Now a diamond ruff in dummy and a second ruffing club finesse landed the slam.

ANSWER: Your partner’s double is value-showing, primarily for takeout. You have a simple call of one no-trump now, suggesting a minimum balanced hand without much support for partner, without a second suit to bid, and with only a single guard in spades (because you failed to make this call on the previous round).


South Holds:

A 8 6 4
K 5
A 8 3 2
Q 6 5


South West North East
1 Pass 1 1
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