Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Dealer: North

Vul: All

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


South West North East
    1♣* Pass
2 Pass 2 Pass
2 Pass 3 Pass
4 Pass 4 NT Pass
5 Pass 6 All Pass
*16-plus, any hand

Opening Lead: Over to you!

“Was it a vision, or a waking dream?

Fled is that music: Do I wake or sleep?”

— John Keats

You might think that best defense to a slam is difficult enough to envisage even with the dummy on view. But there are players who can work out the full story before seeing dummy. Today’s deal arose in the qualifying stages of the 1982 Rosenblum Teams, in a contest between India and Pakistan.


Zia Mahmood, West, thought it likely that North-South were missing an ace and it was most likely to be the diamond ace. Accordingly, a diamond lead looked called for. He further deduced that North must have a singleton diamond; otherwise, he would not have used Blackwood. If North had a singleton diamond, there was a lot to be said for leading the king. This would leave West on play at trick two to find the killing continuation through dummy’s strength. So Zia led the diamond king, the only lead to beat the slam.


As you can see, if West leads anything but a diamond, declarer simply draws trumps, discards his diamonds on dummy’s hearts, and concedes a club to West. On the other hand, if West leads a low diamond to East’s ace, declarer should win the club return with the ace and run the diamond queen, taking the ruffing finesse for his 12th trick. All declarer’s clubs go on dummy’s hearts. But as the play went, after leading the diamond king, Zia simply exited passively, and declarer had to concede a club trick at the end.

ANSWER: Your partner’s sequence suggests a three-suited hand short in diamonds. He was probably unwilling to bid on the first round because of spade length. Since the opponents have at least an eight-card diamond fit, simply bid three clubs. You may hope to make more, but the opponents probably have spade ruffs coming.


South Holds:

9 8 7 4
Q J 5
A J 10 5 3


South West North East
  1 Pass 1 NT
Pass 2 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