Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Dealer: South

Vul: E/W

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


South West North East
1 NT Pass 2 Pass

Pass 2 Pass

Pass 4 Pass
4 Pass 4 NT Pass
5 Pass 5 NT Pass

All Pass    

Opening Lead:J

“Slight not what’s near through aiming at what’s far.”

— Euripides

After a transfer auction you arrive in six hearts, but when dummy comes down, you might think that you have aimed too low. You only have 11 top tricks, but if clubs break or the queen is doubleton, you have 13 winners. Even if that doesn’t happen, your extra chances in spades and diamonds make the grand slam eminently playable. That’s all the more reason not to go down in the small slam!


The danger comes when West has great spade and club length, as here, as well as the diamond king. As you will see, if you try to play the hand along normal lines, you cannot dispose of either the spade or diamond loser on the clubs, so something more subtle is called for.


You start on pedestrian lines by winning the spade lead and drawing trumps in three rounds. Then take a second top spade and, rather than trying anything fancy, take the third top spade, finding West with the length. Now you simply exit with the fourth spade, knowing West has only minor-suit cards left. Whichever suit he leads, you have your 12th trick.


Had East turned up with spade length, you had an equally elegant counter. Instead of leading the fourth spade for an endplay, you take the club king and lead a second club, playing the jack if East follows suit, or playing low if East discards. Again, West will win and be endplayed, forced to concede the 12th winner or to set up a club winner for you.

ANSWER: Three spades. North’s transfer followed by two no-trump invites game, suggesting five spades and about nine points. With a minimum and three spades, you can pass two no-trump or correct to three spades. I would opt to play spades because I may be able to ruff a diamond in my hand for the extra trick.


South Holds:

8 5 3
K J 7
A J 8 6 3


South West North East
1 NT Pass 2

2 Pass 2 NT 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